A NARROW pitch, encircled by a stock-car racing track and wire fences, behind which lie discarded tyres and dilapidated terraces.
Welcome to Central Park, Cowdenbeath.
It might not be what most young players dream of as they make their way in the senior game but it holds a special place in the memory of Murray Davidson. The St Johnstone midfielder might now be a Scotland internationalist but he cherishes a spell spent on loan with the Fife club in the 2006, the foibles of the ground enough to spark a smile.
"It's old school," said the 24-year-old, who made his Scotland debut in Luxembourg earlier this month. "It was seven or eight games I played and it was good for me. It stands you in good stead going to places like that as a young boy. I think more young boys should be put out to lower division teams. It shows you it's not all about coming in and getting mollycoddled. You've got to go out there, work hard and see what it's like in the lower leagues."
Davidson was with Livingston at that time, before moving to Perth in 2008 and experiencing semi-final defeat in the Scottish Cup in 2011. Since then, forging a sustained run in knockout competition has proved beyond St Johnstone, who go in to this tie on the back of a league loss to Hibernian in midweek.
"It's good because you come from a Wednesday game, such a low, and you can't dwell on it," Davidson said. "You're back in first thing in the morning for a big game against Cowdenbeath in the Scottish Cup. The last few years we've been trying to get a cup run and we're under no illusions it's going to be tough. It's a tough place to go."
The difficulties Hibs faced at Central Park at the same stage of the competition last term, winning 3-2 after an anxious encounter, offer evidence of that and Colin Cameron, Cowdenbeath's player/ manager, is eager to make use of their drab surroundings again this afternoon.
"Central Park is a real culture shock for SPL sides as it is not the grandest of grounds and they do not liking playing on our narrow pitch, " said Cameron of a surface that will be inspected this morning, having been frozen solid during the week. "Last season we gave Hibs a real fright by taking the lead and we probably deserved more than the 3-2 defeat we had.
"We will look repeat that performance again this year but I know St Johnstone are a more than decent team. I watched them against Hibs in a dogged performance but I know that they can actually play better than that," added Cameron, who is an injury doubt. "They are the favourites but hopefully they will be unsettled by a few things at our place and we can take advantage of that."