Hopes rising of work starting soon now £1.45m budget agreed for repairs to Galashiels football stand

Plans to bring Gala Fairydean Rovers’ main grandstand back into use after over two years sitting empty look to be edging within sight of goal.

By Darin Hutson
Monday, 29th March 2021, 7:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 9:13 pm
Gala Fairydean Rovers' main stand at their Netherdale ground (Photo: Scottish Borders Council)
Gala Fairydean Rovers' main stand at their Netherdale ground (Photo: Scottish Borders Council)

Bosses at Scottish Borders Council have agreed to earmark £1.45 million in their 2021-22 capital budget for repairs to the A-listed grandstand, both acclaimed as a masterpiece of brutalist architecture and reviled as an eyesore reminiscent of Soviet-era Russia.

No timetable has yet been set for work to begin on the reinforced concrete stand, opened at Netherdale in November 1964 but closed in the same month in 2018 due to concerns over its safety, but a team of engineers, architects and surveyors was commissioned almost a year ago to assess what restoration work would be required to make it fit for use again so it is hoped that repairs will now get under way within months rather than years.

In the meantime, the old blue seats in the 100-capacity small stand opposite the closed-off main one have been replaced with red ones to reflect the Galashiels club’s colours, courtesy of York City

Gala Fairydean Rovers' main stand, opened in 1964 but shut for the last two seasons (Photo: Scottish Borders Council)

They were surplus to requirements following the English sixth-tier side’s relocation from their previous Bootham Crescent ground to a purpose-built £44 milllion stadium in Huntington, prompting Rovers to offer to provide a new home for them.

The small stand, bought by Gala from former Lowland League rivals Selkirk after they folded almost three years ago, has enabled them to comply with the terms of the Scottish Football Association licence by providing covered seating for up to 100 spectators despite their main stand being out of action.

Club chairman Ryan Cass said: “Obviously, the go-ahead being given for the repairs to the main stand is fantastic news for the club.

“There has been a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes regarding the stand, particularly by former Fairydean chairman Ross Buchan, who has been driving the project on our behalf.

Spectators packing out the stand to watch Gala Fairydean Rovers playing host to Clyde in October 2013 (Photo: Brian Sutherland)

“Matchdays were just not the same with the stand being closed, and we look forward to the day when the repairs are completed and we can host spectators in it again.

“I'm sure our supporters will return in droves to cheer on the team in comfort, particularly if they continue playing a brand of football which is attractive to the eye.

“We have been really fortunate that our sponsors and Premier Club members have stuck by the club during the pandemic break, and we are so grateful to them and can't wait to welcome them back when playing resumes.

“It was always our intention to replace the seats in the smaller stand.

Club chairman Ryan Cass is glad to be seeing red after years of feeling blue (Photo: Gala Fairydean Rovers)

“When I read York City were moving ground, I phoned them about their seats and director Richard Adams called back saying they would help us.

“York have been great to us and hopefully we can invite them to Scotland soon so we can thank them personally.

“They were posted to us by courier and again our loyal club helpers came to our aid and spent a lot of hours installing them."

The 500-capacity main grandstand was designed by acclaimed Gattonside architect Peter Womersley, alive from 1923 to 1993, and was one of first football stadiums in the UK to employ a cantilever design.