When you think about Cowdenbeath a variety of things may spring to mind. A cult club? The Blue Brazil? The Cowden? Coal mines? Or even the Kingdom of Fife?
What is certain is that few football clubs in Scotland play at a stadium that is as ramshackle as Central Park. With its multi-use feel (it is used for football, stock car racing and was once a greyhound track) the club home is located in a largely nondescript town in the Fife region of Scotland.
Back in the late Victorian period Cowdenbeath was a small mining village of a few thousand people. The growth of the village and the immediate surrounding area as well as local football was related to coal mining.
Football in Cowdenbeath started with Cowdenbeath Rangers in June 1880. Many of the early players were employees of the Cowdenbeath Coal Company.
The current Cowdenbeath FC traditionally date their origins to the merger of football players from different Fife coal mines. These men came together to create Cowdenbeath FC in 1882. The first registered colours of the club were red, white and blue striped Jerseys; colours which can still be detected in the current kit.
It was in 1905 that Cowdenbeath made a Scottish League debut. A penalty goal by stalwart Willie Mercer gave Cowdenbeath a 1-0 victory over Edinburgh side Leith Athletic.
Since then Cowdenbeath have been a proud lower league club who have traditionally bounced between the bottom tiers of the Scottish league. Success – in terms of titles – have been threadbare but only once (at the end of the 2017-18) season were the club in serious danger of dropping out of the league. Only a play off victory over Cove Rangers saved the club from a drop into the Lowland League.
Some of the most famous players to play for Cowdenbeath include Greg Stewart, Craig Gordon, William Devlin and George Wilson.
Few would disagree however that the most symbolic thing about Cowdenbeath is its home ground – Central Park. Although Cowdenbeath first played football at Jubilee Park in 1888 they moved to North End Park which was used for football for many years.
Finally a move was made to Central Park when it was opened in 1917 with the main stand added in 1921.
By the 1970’s Central Park had become a stock car racing track even hosting several world championships.
Amongst the more unusual features of the current Central Park are two main stands. Half of the original main stand (West Stand) was destroyed by fire in 1992. In its place was built the Alex Menzies Stand which opened in 1995.
The rest of the ground is characterised by fenced off terracing, racetrack boundary and possibly some of the worst football watching positions of any football stadium in Scotland.
It is a place worth visiting however much it may not be for the purest. Cowdenbeath and Central Park is about as far away from Ibrox or Celtic Park as you can get.