Tuesday 19th April 2022 7:45pm – The Scottish Championship – Palmerston Park, Dumfries
There are few football clubs in Britain that do not take their name from the location where they play. Yes, we can argue about the proximity of Crystal Palace to Selhurst Park, West Ham to Stratford or even Everton, Forest Green and Tranmere being real places (they are) but go north of the border and you will find Rangers, Celtic and Heart of Midlothian in the Premiership who give no clue to their location in their name. And then there is Queen of the South.
Located in the market town of Dumfries, close to the English border, Queen of the South is the nickname of the club as well as the town. Dumfries got its nickname ‘Queen of the South’ from David Dunbar, a local poet, who in 1857 stood as a candidate in the general election and in his speech referred to the town as”Queen of the South”. The club also has an unusual nickname, “Doonhamers”, a version of the phrase ‘doon hame‘, a version of “down home”. Not that many people want to move away from the town according to Rightmove, who ranked it as the happiest place to live in Scotland in 2017, perhaps because of the number of pubs, which on the mile walk from the station to Palmeston Park, home of Queen of the South, totalled 12.
The club also claim to be the only football club mentioned in the Bible (Luke 11:31 “The Queen of the South shall rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them) although the words “Bury” and “Orient” as in the Leyton variety do also appear in the texts.
The football club haven’t had a remarkable history despite their unusual names. But they still hold a number of records – Palmerston Park has the tallest floodlights in Scottish Football and the steepest terrace to get the pulses racing. They haven’t played in the top flight for nearly fifty years and were staring relegation from the Championship (step 2) in the face as they hosted Inverness Caledonian Thistle in mid-April.
Actually, they needed a miracle. Nine points adrift with just three games to play, they had to take maximum points and hope that either Dunfermline Athletic or Ayr United dropped points. To make it all even more interesting, QOTS would face those two sides in their last two games. But first they hosted play-off bound Inverness Caledonian Thistle in a game billed as the “longest names in British football” at a total of 39 characters long, which was conveniently shortened to QOTS v ICT on the match tickets.
I’m often asked where Lewes would fair north of the border. Based on the crowd watching this one on a fine April evening I’d say very well, with less than 650 in Palmerston Park, two hundred less than the average at the Pan but in terms of one the pitch, whilst the play was often wayward, you could see flashes of professional skill from both sides in a pulsating game. The home side took an early lead through Josh Todd – goals have been an issue this season and QOTS came into the game as the league’s lowest scorers, but had conceded the most. At the other end Inverness were the second top scorers and had the third meanest defence.
The visitors equalised in the 17th minute after a fantastic run and strike from Logan Chalmers and fair play to the 40 or so fans who had made the 470 mile round trip (or 13 hours each way on the train) on a Tuesday night as they celebrated wildly. However, it was the home side who regained the lead just before half time when Euan East scored, and they hung on for 50 minutes to keep their Championship place alive for at least four more days when 8th place Ayr United arrive in town.
If you are ever passing through the region the town is definitely worth an hour or two of your time. Some decent pubs, friendly locals and a football ground steeped in history.