Before each away game, Pars Review looks at the venue we will be travelling to: its history, with rare photos showing changes to the opposition club's stadium over the years, and how it looks now. On Saturday we travel to Somerset Park, home of Ayr United.
Formed in 1910, Ayr United were the merger of 2 teams from the town - Ayr, and Ayr Parkhouse. Ayr had played at Somerset Park since 1888, and in 1910 the newly formed team remained at that venue, and have done ever since. The ground was initially all uncovered terracing with a small stand. In 1924, a new main stand was built that still remains today. The photo below was taken on the day the stand was opened.
Apart from a covered enclosure being built at the railway end (the current away end) in 1933, the ground changed very little over the years, and in many ways has not changed much in the modern era either. The record attendance at Somerset Park was in 1969 in a game v Rangers. The photo below shows action from that game, with the North terrace on the opposite side of the pitch from the main stand in the background. Note the fans sitting on the narrow track that surrounds the pitch.
In 1970 floodlights were installed, years after many clubs had done so. The following year, the Somerset Road (home end) had a roof added to provide cover behind the goal.
The photos below show action from games in 1974 and 1978. The ground will be immediately recognisable to anyone who has visited it recently.
The exterior of the ground has hardly changed over the years. The photo below shows the stadium in 1977.
In 1989, the main stand had an extra section added with 600 seats, bringing the seated capacity in the ground to 1450. The new section of the stand also provided improved disabled access. In 1996, a hospitality suite was opened in the area above the North terrace, and named the Ally MacLeod Suite (see photo below), after Ayr's legendary manager, who was boss in 3 separate spells between 1966 and 1989. In 2011, both roofs at the home and away ends of the ground had extensive work done to upgrade them, with the home end roof also damaged in a storm and requiring repairs.
The photos below show Somerset Park in 2014 and 2015 (photos taken by Pars Review). The main stand is showing its age but the rest of the ground, with the exception of the ancient toilets, is in good condition considering how long it has existed. There is an element of stepping back in time when visiting Somerset Park, but that's not a bad thing.