Livingston Football Club
- City: Livingston, West Lothian / Leivinstoun, Wast Lowden / Baile Dhunlèibhe, Lodainn an Iar
- Founded: 1943 (as Ferranti Thistle)
- Ground: Almondvale Stadium (9,512)
- Nicknames: Livi; The Lions
- Colours: Amber shirt with white and black pinstripe vertical stripes and trim, amber shorts, and amber socks with black trim.
- 2022-23 League: Scottish Premiership
- Club Website: https://livingstonfc.co.uk/
- Club Twitter: @livifcofficial
- Best League Finish: 3rd in the Scottish Premier League (2001-02)
- Best Scottish Cup Finish: Semi-Finals (2000-01 & 2003-04)
- Scottish League Cup
- Winners (1): 2003–04
- Scottish First Division
- Champions (1): 2000–01
- Scottish Second Division/League One
- Champions (4): 1986–87, 1998–99, 2010–11, 2016–17
- Scottish Third Division
- Champions (2): 1995–96, 2009–10
- Scottish Challenge Cup
- Winners (1): 2014–15
- Scottish Qualifying Cup (South)
- Winners (1): 1973–74
Livingston Football Club is a Scottish team that currently plays in the Scottish Premiership, the top flight in the Scottish football pyramid. They are based in the post-war ‘new town’ of Livingston / Leivinstoun / Baile Dhunlèibhe, which is the largest town in the central belt county of West Lothian with a population of around 57,000 inhabitants, and located approximately fifteen miles (25 km) west of Edinburgh and thirty miles (50 km) east of Glasgow. The club currently plays its home games at the 9,512-capacity Almondvale Stadium, more commonly referred to by its sponsored name of the Tony Macaroni Stadium. Built in 1995 in preparation for Meadowbank Thistle’s relocation to Livingston, the stadium is situated in the Almondvale area of the town and located on the southern side of a meander of the River Almond / Abhainn Amain that flows through the settlement towards the Firth of Forth.
The foundations of the club hark back to 1943 when it was founded as the works team of the Edinburgh-based Ferranti engineering company and called Ferranti Thistle. They initially competed in the amateur/junior Edinburgh local leagues before moving to senior football and joining the East of Scotland League in 1953. Following some success in the early 1970s which saw Ferranti Thistle qualify for the Scottish Cup after winning the 1973-74 Southern Qualifying Cup, the club was elected to become a member of the Scottish Football League in 1974. However, this development forced the club to change its name to Meadowbank Thistle and move into the recently-constructed Meadowbank Stadium, which was initially built to host the 1970 Commonwealth Games.
Throughout Meadowbank Thistle’s existence within the SFL, the club often bounced between the second and third tiers of the Scottish football pyramid. The best period of Thistle was the mid-to-late 1980s when it won the 1986-87 Second Division title, and followed it up the next season with their best-ever league finish of runners-up in the First Division (second tier). However, by the early 1990s, the part-time club was suffering massive financial problems and at risk of being liquidated. Therefore, they took the hugely controversial step of moving from their traditional Edinburgh base and relocating westwards to the new town of Livingston in 1995, changing their name to the current one to reflect their new base.
Starting in the fourth tier at the start of the 1995-96 season, Livi’s rise through the football pyramid was meteoric, and they gained promotion to the Scottish Premier League (SPL) just six seasons after the relocation. In their debut season in the top flight, Livingston continued their monumental rise and finished in third position, the best side outside of the Old Firm clubs, and their best league finish to date. This qualified them for the 2002-03 UEFA Cup, their first foray into European competition, where they beat Liechtensteiner powerhouses FC Vaduz on away goals before being knocked out by Austrian side Sturm Graz 6-8 on aggregate in the first round of the competition. The following season, Livingston also won their first major trophy when they lifted the 2004 Scottish League Cup by beating Hibernian 2-0 in the final.
Alas, despite the tremendous successes of the club in a short time period, it was all built on unsecured foundations and the club started to experience excessive financial problems once again. Having twice gone into administration, and acquiring a collection of owners throughout the tumultuous period, it saw Livingston drop back down to the Third Division by the start of the 2009-10 season. Thankfully, the club managed to secure its future and rapidly returned to the First Division in consecutive seasons. There Livingston consolidated their position in the second tier, with the highlight of that time when Livi won the 2014-15 Scottish Challenge Cup by defeating Alloa Athletic 4-0 at Perth. Although they were relegated from the now-named Scottish Championship at the end of the 2015-16 season, they roared back in fashion by first winning the 2016-17 League One title, and then securing promotion back to the top flight in the following season via the promotion playoffs. Livingston overcame both Dundee United and Partick Thistle over two legs each time to reach Scotland’s highest tier for the first time since 2006.
Since their promotion in 2018, Livingston has continued to maintain its position in the Scottish Premiership and the 2022-23 season is the club’s fifth consecutive season in the top flight, matching the achievements of that successful side of the early 2000s. Last season, the club finished in seventh position with 49 points, finishing top of the bottom six conference following the league’s split after 33 games played.
To talk about a side that has had a rollercoaster history in Scottish football, having risen from the fourth tier to the top flight, before returning back whence they came, and then amazingly repeating the ascent through the pyramid once again, we interviewed the excellent Talk Livi Podcast. As their name suggests, they are a regular podcast that talks and reports about everything involving Livingston FC. To listen to their podcast, or discover more about it, you can find the links to their social media accounts and podcast in the list below:
- Website: https://talklivipodcast.libsyn.com/
- Twitter: @TalkLivi
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/talklivipodcast/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TalkLivi
- YouTube: @talklivipodcast8055
- Podcast Links: Apple Podcasts; Spotify
Q. Firstly, how did you decide to start following and supporting Livingston?
Growing up in Linlithgow, Livingston were the senior team in West Lothian and were climbing the divisions at the time after having moved from Meadowbank (formerly Meadowbank Thistle).
I had started to get into football at that age and the club had a big emphasis on the community and families. For my dad, it was a no-brainer to take me along there and I instantly caught the bug.
Q. Who would you say is Livingston’s best player, and coach/manager of all time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
Our best player of all time in terms of ability is David Fernández [Spanish striker who played for Livingston between 2001 and 2002]. He could do things with a ball that I’ve not seen any other Livi players do and he always got you off your seat. He also played a huge part in the side finishing third in the top flight and winning the League Cup.
In terms of the all-round greatest ever player, that’s undoubtedly Scott Pittman [30-year-old midfielder]. He’s our record appearance holder [with 310 appearances at the time of writing] and is going to set records that’ll never be broken again in our history. He’s been integral to the recent success of the club as well and epitomises what the club is all about.
Manager wise is tough. There’s Jim Leishman [he managed the team in two separate spells between 1995 and 2003] who was integral to the original success of the club and rising up through the divisions before leading us into Europe. He’s also such an infectious character and fans always have great stories when they talk about Jim.
For me though, our current manager, Davie Martindale [who has managed the club since 2020], deserves to be mentioned. Working his way up through the club, being integral in terms of recruitment and building the infrastructure behind the scenes to then taking the top job. He’s since led us to a League Cup final and has fans dreaming of European football all whilst working on an incredibly small budget. The football club wouldn’t be where it is today without him.
Q. Of the current squad, who would you say is the best player at the club and why?
I think our best player currently is Joel Nouble [27-year-old forward]. He has been integral to our success this season and is such a handful for the opposition. Despite being a big presence and very physical, he has all the tricks and ability to beat players and I think if you asked opposition fans, they don’t look forward to playing against him!
Q. Who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent at the club?
For me, Stephen Kelly [22-year-old midfielder] is someone that really excites me for the future. He signed from Rangers in the summer and it looked like a signing with eyes on the future as our midfield of Jason Holt, Pittman, and Stéphane Oméonga almost picked itself last season.
He’s come in though and taken his chance. Technically very good and offers us something a bit different from what we have in midfield, as well as chipping in with some goals which have all been sublime.
Q. Who would you regard as Livingston’s biggest or historical rivals?
It’s difficult to say who Livi’s rivals are. We are a newish club having relocated in 1995. Locality-wise, you would look at Hibs and Hearts but we’ve also had battles and a bit of needle with the likes of Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Falkirk when we’ve been in the lower divisions. Some Livi fans would say Dundee due to an incident involving Hassan Kachloul that happened back in 2005 when we relegated them as well.
Q. Looking at the club’s history, what would you say has been the best game, result, or performance in your opinion?
The best game for me was the 2017-18 promotion play-off semi-final first leg against Dundee Utd at Tannadice. It’s arguably my favourite ever game of football and the scenes in the away end when Scott Pittman put us 3-2 up I’ll never forget.
You also have to say the League Cup final 2-0 win over Hibs in 2004. Our first major final and only major trophy in our history. Silencing 35,000 Hibs fans was something beautiful and winning the trophy while the club was in administration also adds to the level of the achievement.
Q. What do you think of the situation in Scottish league football currently? Are there any improvements you would like to see happen?
I think restructuring is required across the pyramid system in Scotland. Most fans will tell you they get fed up with playing the same team four times in a season.
Also, the way the promotion playoffs for the Premiership work, as well as those much further down the pyramid to get into the SPFL from the Lowland or Highland Leagues, are a bit of a joke.
Q. How would you describe the current performance or state of the club? How do you think this past season has gone?
The club is in an incredibly great place right now. When we first climbed up the leagues, it was great to see, but we were doing it by spending big and this eventually caught up with us when administration hit in 2004.
We’ve achieved our recent success by working within our means and are currently punching well above our weight. The infrastructure behind the scenes in terms of work done to the stadium, our women’s team, and starting the academy again makes it a club you can be really proud of.
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the club?
The best thing about supporting a club like Livi is that when success comes, it’s all the more sweeter because it doesn’t happen often. It’s truly been a rollercoaster since the club was formed in 1995 and has never been dull!
The worst thing is probably the stick the club takes from armchair supporters on social media, and other platforms for digs on the size of our support, the artificial pitch, etc. It gets quite tiresome and instead of getting praised for what we are doing as a club and what we achieve on the pitch, opposition fans just focus on these things.
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of Livingston?
It’s boring but sustaining ourselves as a top-flight club. If we stay up this season, it’ll be our longest stint in the Premiership and with the resources the club has available, we are often fancied to struggle every season. For the club to build, consistency is key!
The ultimate dream is that I’d love to see us qualify for European football again. I was lucky enough to see us play in Europe back in 2002, and it would certainly cap off a truly remarkable journey for guys like Davie Martindale and Scott Pittman as well.
A massive thank you to the Talk Livi Podcast for answering our questions on the Scottish Premiership side Livingston FC. Remember you can find their excellent podcast, website, and social media accounts in the links towards the top of the blogpage.
If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at email@example.com or send a message at @The94thMin on Twitter.