Mountblow Recreation Ground in the 21st century

Mountblow Pavilion in the 21st Century.

Have a look at the photograph above of the once fine sports pavilion.   The rendering has fallen off the walls, ther doors have metal grills on them, even worse the windown in front of the central tower is shuttered, the windows have grills on them and the general picture is one of dilapidation.   The running track was, when last seen, a simple, red blaes, path surrounding what had been the small football pitch.   To the best of our knowledge the days of two full time groundsmen are gone.   We have the local vandals to thank for all the shuttering and metal grills.     The councillors of vision who conceived of, developed and boasted of it have gone – the Clydebank Town Council has gone and the governing body is based in Dumbarton.   The Commissioner of the Special Areas in Scotland which put up three quarters of the cost of the facility no longer exists and if it did, it would probably not be able to contribute from a Special Areas Fund.    But just by looking at the picture it is clear that no maintenance has been done on the building for many years.   

Athletically,  it was very well used by the club until in about 1960 there was a new track laid at Whitecrook in the east end of the burgh.   Unlike Mountblow it was an eight lane with ten in the straight, 440 yards, cinder track.   The Running Track Directory says: “The track was built in about 1960 and was initially known as the Whitecrook Running Track. At the time it was considered to be a state of the art cinder track with first class field facilities and was used by Clydesdale Harriers. In the late 1970s the name changed to the Whitecrook Community Education Centre Track following a change of name of the adjacent centre. However, in 1993, the local council decided that the cost of upkeep was too high and leased the whole playing field area to the Clydebank Rugby Club for 19 years for a peppercorn rent.”   The bigger track meant that there was a bigger infield with more room for field events.   At one end there was a high jump fan with good firm cinder approach and jumpers from other clubs were known to come along and train there – eg David Cairns of Springburn Harriers came along.   

There were some problems initially.   The track was very soft and some runners, like the former double Scottish Junior cross-country champion John Wright took to training at the Mountblow track.   The feeling was that the softer surface was an injury risk but once they learned about this the local authority added to the mix of the cinder and firmed it up.   The other little difference to Mountblow was that there were no changing rooms with showers, etc and the athletes had to change in the Primary School which was all of 100 yards away across the football pitches.   The Directory referred to above did not mention that there were three football pitches beside the track which gave a big perimeter for the endurance runners to use.   In addition at the track, it was so big that runners could run 300 yard reps on the grass inside the track if they preferred it or if recommended to do so by a physio.    It seemed a good change for the club to make.   Then when a pavilion was built beside the track it was even better.   The pavilion had many fewer dressing rooms than Mountblow, women and men used the same short, narrow corridor to access them and there was only one set of showers.   

This meant that the track at Mountblow was not being used very much at all with mainly occasional runners using it as a base for road or country running at weekends.   The hockey fields had long since been done away with and the Singer cricket team ceased to exist in the late 1950’s; Clydebank Cricket Club was officially disbanded in September 1987 – exactly 50 years after the facility was set up..    No cricket, no hockey, no athletics and that only left football.  Football was and is always wanting more facilities – in the 1990’s when Clydesdale Harriers had been evacuated from the track at Whitecrook various options were looked at with Jack Daly, the West Dunbartonshire official responsible for leisure activities.   He suggested the big pitch at William Street in Duntocher because it was seldom used – but that was ruled out because it was one of the few in the area that could be used for cup matches; part of the good grass at Mountblow which was not in use was also ruled out – this time because it was a ‘resting’ football pitch.   It was the same story with every piece of vacant ground.   The football lobby then started a campaign to turn Mountblow into a Football Centre.   They were successful and in February 2017 the area was ear-marked for an £850,000 overhaul including the pavilion.   It was opened for use in February 2020 and now has three 7-a-side pitches and one 11-a-side pitch suitable for all weathers.   

Mountblow as it is today: The pavilion is a shadow of what it was, football pitches everywhere and the whole open area divided up by fencing.   

It is easy to see why the multi-sports facility became a single sport venue.   If the cricket, athletics and hockey all went elsewhere with football the sole user, it was inevitable that this would be the fate of the Recreation Ground.   It was not inevitable that it would be allowed to get into the state it is in currently – that was a political decision.    Mountblow plan is below.   And what about Whitecrook?

Well, what about Whitecrook?   After we left the rugby club had had it from 1969 but were looking for other users for the pitch.   Local sports clubs came together and established the Clydebank Community Sports Hub in 2012.      The complex was described in the Clydebank Post as:

No running track.