Photographer Keith Smith set out to picture all Scotland’s 42 league grounds, with his first book focusing in general on the north east.
He continues his travels, and although Aberdeen feature again, his follow up publication, Volume Two, reveals a new gallery of grounds visited, taking his quest to 20 venues so far.
Says Smith: “I love the variety of stadia, the often ramshackle appearance of older grounds. And even though photographing people doesn’t really interest me, there’s something about people’s behaviour at a match that makes great images.”
He can also identify with why it’s often the case that followers of football have a similarly keen interest in the music scene.
“I think for many working class males of my age, football and music was often the biggest two interests, so I think the two go naturally together.
“I’m a bit of a geek about both, and both cultures attract their share of geeks!”
This time round his travels continue in the east of Scotland, where Dunfermline Athletic feature prominently. Rich with a history stretching back to 1885, they are two times Scottish Cup winners.
Contrast that to comparative new boys, Kelty Hearts. Nicknamed The Maroon Machine and only founded in 1975, Kelty joined the SFA in 2017 and consecutive promotions in 2021 then 2022 has seen them up into League One with five games to spare.
Smith’s ventures also took him to St Johnstone, East Fife and Raith Rovers among others.
There’s a place for a Cove Rangers match played earlier in the season, as well as that night game at Pittodrie, with Celtic the visitors.
Explains Smith: “Although I’m very much still capturing grounds away from match day (other people do that way better than me), I like the idea of recognising that fans are back in, and that things have moved on from when I started.”
Born and brought up in Norwich, Smith still supports the Canaries. A first idol was Kevin Reeves, sold for £1m to Manchester City, and his first game, November 1978, was Norwich against Spurs, with Martin Peters (for Norwich) and Tottenham’s Argentinian stars Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa all on show.
Fast forward 40 plus years and football fan Smith is still out there, compiling his photo essay on Scotland’s grounds, with Glasgow and the western side of Scotland still to come.
“New Year 2021 I decided I wanted to visit and shoot every league ground in Scotland,” said Smith.
“I’m not really sure where the idea came from, it just seemed to resonate. The chairman of Elgin City invited me in to see the changing rooms and boardroom, which was amazing.”
His father was an early influence on his love of photography. “I’ve had cameras since I was a kid. My dad always had cameras,” said Smith. “All the images at Cove Rangers were shot with a Nikon 55 – 200mm lens. For everything else I used a Sigma 10-20mm.”
Smith has this advice for any aspiring photographers:
“There is a theory that photographers should focus on one subject and become known for that” he said, and clearly disagrees.