An old club with new ideas
You could say that Meadow Park, the home of Irvine Meadow XI FC (usually just known as ‘Meadow’ or ‘Medda’) is hidden in plain sight, being tucked away in a sea of houses. But once you find it, chances are that you’ll want to go back again soon.
Formed in 1895, the then nameless club moved to Meadow Park, which was then the home of Irvine Celtic FC. Two things then happened in quick succession: the club acquired a name and Irvine Celtic disbanded. Meadow thus had Meadow Park all to themselves and it’s been their home ever since.
Of course, the modern day Meadow Park looks rather different from how it appeared in 1895. For starters, there’s all those houses around it, and, more pertinently, it now boasts a fine grandstand incorporating the changing and match officials rooms, a licensed social club, hospitality rooms, and a kiosk from which peckish fans can grab a hot snack during matches. The rest of the stadium has also been upgraded in recent years and not only looks very smart but also features new floodlights, a modern first aid room, and a covered area for wheelchair users.
The club is rightly proud of Meadow Park but, if anything, the club’s history is even more impressive than its home, Meadow having won the Scottish Junior Football Cup on three occasions, the Scottish Junior Football Association West Region Premiership three times plus a host of other league and cup competitions. Moreover, Meadow was the first Scottish junior club to have a match televised, the highlights of their 1958 Scottish Cup tie against Fauldhouse being shown on Scotsport. A little over half a century later, Meadow became the first junior football side to play a Scottish Premier League team in a competitive match, travelling through to Edinburgh to take on Hibernian, then riding high in the SPL, in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup. Meadow acquitted themselves well, giving their hosts a few frights before eventually losing 3-0. The club remains proud of this achievement, as evidenced by an entire wall of the social club being taken up by a supersized image of Meadow fans at Hibernian’s stadium.
In addition to running its junior team, Irvine Meadow created a separate Community Interest Club in 2016. Its commitment to the community is evident through not only its teams – it has fourteen youth teams and a ladies group – but also by the support it gives to retired people through its Wednesday Club. Founded in 2017, the Wednesday Club meets every Wednesday afternoon. For the princely sum of £1, attendees get a cup of tea, a biscuit, and a place to meet and socialise. Moreover, the Wednesday Club lays on entertainment for its members, such as guest speakers (who have included Craig Brown, Archie Knox, and Jim Fleeting), film shows, and quizzes. Outings are arranged from time to time, and there’s also a Christmas Dinner. It’s proven to be a popular initiative, with around 35 to 40 people attending every week.
Meadow has now left the ranks of junior football (the term ‘junior’ referring to the level at which the football is played rather than to the age of the players) and now play in the West of Scotland League Premier Division, which forms part of the sixth tier of the Scottish senior football pyramid. The club also plays an annual Marymass match against Irvine Victoria – a game which, needless to say, is always very keenly contested!
There’s much to like and admire about Meadow, not least of which is the warm welcome extended to visitors. It’s a fine example of how an old club can stay true to its roots whilst continuing to support its community in an ever-changing world.
Irvine Meadow XI FC, Wilson Avenue, Irvine, KA12 0TW.