The roots of Scottish football | Joris van de Wier


Intrepid Dutch born enthusiast has now added to an ever increasing tally of grounds visited right across Britain by taking in some of the more remote, and quirky, venues at the real grassroots of Scottish football.

The lower leagues of Scottish football is where Joris van de Wier is to be found most Saturdays at a different ground, revelling in the surroundings and soaking up the atmosphere.

These photographs all come from clubs that used to play in the Junior League in Scotland, which almost ceased to exist in 2020 when clubs moved to join the West and East of Scotland League.

Newburgh Juniors. Scottish Non League Football.
Newburgh Juniors. © Joris van de Wier
Whitburn Juniors. Scottish Non League Football.
Whitburn Juniors. © Joris van de Wier
Vale of Leven. Scottish Non League Football.
Vale of Leven. © Joris van de Wier

When it comes to photographing football grounds, van de Wier has an insatiable thirst.

Having photographed all 116 grounds in England’s top four divisions and National League (more than once!), van de Wier is an accomplished, and addicted, football grounds photographer, with a catalogue of pictures that encapsulates every aspect of the British game, from the summit to its rock bottom basement.

“In the Netherlands you don’t really have grounds like in Scotland,” he said.

“Non-League football is totally different. For example, the club I played for had seven senior teams and 31 youth teams. There was not really a ground, but many pitches and lots of plastic.”

St. Roch's. Scottish Non League Football.
St. Roch’s. © Joris van de Wier
Sauchie Juniors. Scottish Non League Football.
Sauchie Juniors. © Joris van de Wier
Yoker Athletic. Scottish Non League Football.
Yoker Athletic. © Joris van de Wier

With often ramshackle facilities and very little cover for the devoted spectators huddled on the touchline, van de Wier’s travels across Scotland opened up a world far removed from his recollections of football life back home. There, he said, it is more about uniformity.

“The bigger non-League clubs have grounds that are all very similar to each other,” he said. “I don’t really like to visit them, because they all look the same. And a lot of clubs are mergers, so you won’t see a lot of clubs that are older than 100 years.”

Rosyth. Scottish Non League Football.
Rosyth. © Joris van de Wier
Lanark United. Scottish Non League Football.
Lanark United. © Joris van de Wier
Forth Wanderers. Scottish Non League Football.
Forth Wanderers. © Joris van de Wier
Newmains United. Scottish Non League Football.
Newmains United. © Joris van de Wier
Maryhill. Scottish Non League Football.
Maryhill. © Joris van de Wier

In Scotland he found it was a completely different story, with all the variety he craved.

“Keanie Park of Johnstone Burgh is one of my favourite grounds,” he said. “I like stands with a barrel roof and they have a big one. Another brilliant one is Craighead Park, the ground of Lesmahagow. It’s like a natural amphitheatre. 

“East Shore Park of Newburgh is also a ground which is a joy to visit. Quirky stands, weird floodlights and a beautiful backdrop. What’s not to like?”

Johnstone Burgh. Scottish Non League Football.
Johnstone Burgh. © Joris van de Wier
Lesmahagow Juniors. Scottish Non League Football.
Lesmahagow Juniors. © Joris van de Wier

“There are a couple of nice old grounds in The Netherlands, but most of the time these clubs used to be former League clubs.

“What I like about Scottish, or British, football is that the support is not scripted. In mainland Europe you have all this pyro and ultras which all feels very forced to get likes on social media. I prefer spontaneous support.”

Petershill. Scottish Non League Football.
Petershill. © Joris van de Wier
Benburb. Scottish Non League Football.
Benburb. © Joris van de Wier
Fauldhouse United. Scottish Non League Football.
Fauldhouse United. © Joris van de Wier

Van de Wier has taken to life in Scotland since quitting his job back home in 2014. Following Hearts for a season gave him plenty of material for his book, Glorious Hearts, but the following year he decided to do something different.

“Although it was nice to follow Hearts for a season I didn’t really get attached to them,” he said, “so the next season I didn’t buy a season ticket, but just choose a different match every weekend.

“Most of them were in the non-League. If I don’t work in the weekend, as a sports writer, I still choose mainly Scottish non-League matches to visit. 

“I don’t really have a favourite team in Scotland, but there are several clubs that I have a soft spot for like Pollok, Arthurlie (ironically they are rivals), Dalbeattie Star (I’ve won the 50/50 draw there) and Johnstone Burgh.”

Pollok. Scottish Non League Football.
Pollok. © Joris van de Wier
Arthurlie. Scottish Non League Football.
Arthurlie. © Joris van de Wier
Largs Thistle. Scottish Non League Football.
Largs Thistle. © Joris van de Wier
Kirkintilloch Rob Roy. Scottish Non League Football.
Kirkintilloch Rob Roy. © Joris van de Wier
Kilbirnie Ladeside. Scottish Non League Football.
Kilbirnie Ladeside. © Joris van de Wier
Irvine Meadow. Scottish Non League Football.
Irvine Meadow. © Joris van de Wier
Hill of Beath Hawthorn. Scottish Non League Football.
Hill of Beath Hawthorn. © Joris van de Wier
Glasgow United. Scottish Non League Football.
Glasgow United. © Joris van de Wier
Dundonald Bluebell. Scottish Non League Football.
Dundonald Bluebell. © Joris van de Wier
Darvel. Scottish Non League Football.
Darvel. © Joris van de Wier
Cumbernauld United. Scottish Non League Football.
Cumbernauld United. © Joris van de Wier
Coupar Angus. Scottish Non League Football.
Coupar Angus. © Joris van de Wier
Bathgate Thistle. Scottish Non League Football.
Bathgate Thistle. © Joris van de Wier
Armadale Thistle. Scottish Non League Football.
Armadale Thistle. © Joris van de Wier
Ardrossan Winton Rovers. Scottish Non League Football.
Ardrossan Winton Rovers. © Joris van de Wier
Camelon. Scottish Non League Football.
Camelon. © Joris van de Wier
Blantyre Victoria
Blantyre Victoria. © Joris van de Wier
Beith Juniors. Scottish Non League Football.
Beith Juniors. © Joris van de Wier
Lugar Boswell Thistle. Scottish Non League Football.
Lugar Boswell Thistle. © Joris van de Wier
Auchinleck Talbot. Scottish Non League Football.
Auchinleck Talbot. © Joris van de Wier
Oakley United. Scottish Non League Football.
Oakley United. © Joris van de Wier
Larkhall Thistle. Scottish Non League Football.
Larkhall Thistle. © Joris van de Wier

Van de Wier’s love affair with football began in as an eight year old, following home town club Willem II, and was a big fan of their English striker Kevin Maddock.

“I started going to football from 1987,” he said. “First only home matches, but when I was in my teens, always away. I preferred these away games.

“Going on the train to another city, making a day of it. Later, I think early 2000s, I discovered other countries. First with some friends we went to Belgium and Germany, but I always wanted to go to England.

“In January 2004 I went there for the first time,” he recalled.”Portsmouth v Scunthorpe, fourth round FA Cup and I was hooked. 

“I just started taking photos at each match. Somewhere in 2006 I started a site called ‘Doing The 116’ (it was a bit of a tongue in cheek name, because of doing the 92) and tried to take better photos.”

Keep up with van de Wier’s football travels on Twitter and Instagram.

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