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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Great Yarmouth Town

Great Yarmouth Town 0 Hadleigh United 0
Ridgeons League Division One
Wellesley Recreation Ground, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

[Click here for a full size version of the panorama]

The Wellesley Recreation Ground was first opened as a sporting venue in 1888, and while the first competitive football fixture was played there two years later, it wasn’t until the 1901-02 season that Great Yarmouth Town FC (the “Bloaters”) where granted permission to use the ground for home games, having played elsewhere since their foundation in 1897.

By this time the main attraction at Wellesley (for yours truly at least), the oldest surviving football grandstand in the world, had been in use for almost ten years. It’s opening in June of 1892 had attracted a crowd of over 4,000 for a combined Athletics and Cycle meet, and since then the grand old lady has watched over all manner of events, including Flower Shows, Cricket, Baseball, Archery and Horse Jumping.

A ground attendance record of 8,944 was set in November 1953 when the Bloaters played host Crystal Palace for an FA Cup 1st Round tie. Additional terracing was fashioned from fish boxes to help accommodate the huge crowd which watched over what would prove to be home sides finest hour as they saw off their illustrious visitors with a 1-0 victory.

Following the Bradford fire of 1985 the predominantly all-wood grandstand came under close scrutiny. An accumulation of rubbish was removed, and fire-proofing materials and metal safety rails added to ensure spectator safety, but all in a manner sympathetic to the age of the stand. This gem of the world of non-league football, despite these and other updates over the years, has been allowed to retain much of its original character, and was rightly awarded Grade 2 Listing status in 2002. Well worth a look.

Match Number: 1326

Official Website: http://www.thebloaters.co.uk/

Addendum: A few more pictures can be found here.

posted by chevblue at 11:49 pm 1 comments

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Peterborough United

Peterborough United 2 Ipswich Town 2
(Peterborough 4-2 on penalties after extra time)
Carling Cup 1st Round
London Road, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

London Road in July, 2004

London Road is a bit like a time capsule, an example of how many Football League grounds used to be. My first visit to London Road was back in the early 1980’s and, with the exception of an attractive looking new stand along one touchline, where there was once an open terrace, not a great has changed in the intervening years. And in no way is that intended to be disparaging.

Peterborough gained election to the Football League in 1960 and have a bit of a reputation as giant killers in the two major domestic cup competitions, a reputation which was enhanced tonight with the scalp of Ipswich – albeit after a penalty shoot-out and indeed some may question the use of the word giant and Ipswich in the same sentence.

The club are famously known as the “Posh”, a nickname they have enjoyed since their formation back in 1934, and which was famously contested a few years back by the pop singing wife of a certain former England captain who currently resides in Madrid. Mrs Becks attempted to stop the club from registering the nickname as a trademark claiming that the nickname is recognised around the world as belonging to her. Apparently the use of 'Posh' as a sobriquet pre-dates both the former Spice Girl and current club first coming into use in the early 1920’s, when the player manager of Fletton United, previous incumbents at London Road, announced that he was looking for 'Posh players for a Posh team' to compete in the Northamptonshire League in the 1921-22 season.

Match Number: 1325

Official Website: www.theposh.premiumtv.co.uk

Match Report: www.prideofanglia.com

posted by chevblue at 11:25 pm 0 comments

Monday, August 14, 2006

Revisited: Barcelona

Wednesday March 21st, 1979
Barcelona 1 Ipswich Town 0
(European Cup Winners’ Cup 3rd Round, 2nd Leg)
Nou Camp, Barcelona, Spain

Nou Camp

I’m no technophile but while doing a bit of research at work I came across a bit of technology that I thought was pretty neat, namely the new ticket authentication system at Barcelona’s Nou Camp.

With a capacity just short of 99,000, the Nou Camp is the largest football stadium in Europe, and with a huge number of season ticket holders it’s no surprise that faked Id cards were causing Barca a number of problems, not least the loss of ticket revenue. The old system of admittance required the ticket holder to hold up their pass for a quick visual check by an attendant and off they went to their seat – a process open to abuse.

Nou Camp

Under the new system stadium staff, armed with specially adapted Nokia mobile phones, scan each fan’s Id card as they enter the Nou Camp, and also take a headshot using the phone’s built-in camera. This verifies the holders details in real-time while simultaneously uploading the snap for storage in the club’s database. This snap can then be used to verify the card holder’s identity next time they attend a home game, when the whole process is repeated.

There are various fail-safes in place within the system to ensure entrance into the ground is not impeded in the event of signal loss, or other computer related problem, and by all accounts the whole thing has been a great success. At Ipswich we now carry a credit card style card to gain entry to Portman Road, although verification is still done manually by a turnstile operator, and a number of other league grounds are operating similar scheme’s. None as slick as the Spaniard’s though. Things have certainly come a long way since my visit to Spain in ‘79 when my ticket was simply clipped bus conductor style!

Nou Camp

Disappointing though it was to loose by the odd goal at the Nou Camp all those years ago it’s a pretty awesome experience watching a game in front of a full house there (100,000) – and this was before they added an additional tier around the stadium (taking the capacity to 120,000 at the time). Town carried a two-one lead into the game from the first leg at Portman Road, but it was the Spaniards goal in Suffolk that ultimately carried them through into the next round, winning by a goal to nil at home to go through on the away goals rule. What made it doubly disappointing was that this was the second year in a row Town had been knocked out of European competition by Barca. The year before, this time in the UEFA Cup, the Blues had beaten Cruyff and Co at Portman Road three-nil only to loose the second leg by the same score and then make a hash of things in a penalty shoot out. Barcelona went on to win the Cup Winners’ Cup in ’79, defeating Fortuna Düsseldorf 4-3 in the final in Basle, Switzerland, a final regarded as one of the best finals of this now, sadly, defunct competition.


The same week we were in Barcelona a hockey tournament was taking place in an ice arena adjacent to the Nou Camp. We watched a couple of games including one featuring the GB team (pictured bottom right)!

Nou Camp               Nou Camp

posted by chevblue at 1:06 pm 1 comments

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Revisited: Heart of Midlothian

Wednesday 22 September, 2004
Heart of Midlothian 2 Kilmarnock 1
(Scottish League Cup Round 3)
Tynecastle, Edinburgh, Scotland


Normally when I find myself in a previously unvisited Town or City you can pretty much guarantee that it’s football club will not have a single home match scheduled (not first team, not reserve, not youth, or even ladies) for the whole period I’m there. So you can imagine my excitement two years ago when I found myself working up in Edinburgh, that Hearts would be taking on Kilmarnock in a third round Scottish League Cup tie that very week.

This was the era immediately prior to the Jambo’s takeover by Russian born businessman and former Soviet Submariner Vladimir Romanov. The upturn in the clubs fortunes that have occurred since have been well publicised but back on that warmish night in September 2004, with just under 6,000 kicking around inside Tynecastle, there was not even an inkling in the air of what was to come.

From my hotel, close to Haymarket Station, it’s an easy twenty-minute walk out along Daley Road into the Gorgie district of Edinburgh and Heart of Midlothian’s Tynecastle ground. Three sides of this famous venue where completely rebuilt in the 1990’s, each boasting slick looking single tiered stands with the club’s distinctive crest picked out in the maroon coloured seats. But the main attraction as far as I’m concerned is the old McLeod Street Grandstand, the work of stadium architect Archie Leitch, and that’s where I headed for the evening.

This was one of Leitch’s less auspicious efforts, both in terms of the final product and the getting there. Alarms bells should have started ringing when the initial build estimate of £6,000 just £1,723 short of Hearts gate receipts for an entire season, where handed to the board in 1913. By the time construction was completed in late 1914 the final bill was £12,178, and the by now less than Jolly Jambo’s had had to sell star player Percy Dawson to help cover the difference.

At the time Leitch was also engaged at Aston Villa, tied-up in a wrangle with Arsenal over the construction of the new Highbury Stadium, while simultaneously moving offices from Liverpool to London – the Gorgie project obviously did not have his full attention. A fractious project from the off, involving a four-way fight between Leitch, Hearts, Edinburgh City Council, and the building contractors, Leitch still managed a grandstand of some merit. Although lacking one of his trademark decorative gables, it still features a mosaic floor in the entrance hall, an attractive red brick façade, light weight fire proof floors, known as Kleine decking (quite an advanced product in its time) and has an almost intimate atmosphere despite a capacity of 4,000. You can almost feel yourself being transported back in time ...

The following week, and still in Edinburgh, I had hoped to get across town to visit the home of Tony Mowbray’s Hibernian at Easter Road. A late finish at the office, and a steady downpour, conspired to stop my watching a reserve game in Leith. Perhaps another time.

posted by chevblue at 5:56 pm 0 comments

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Ground Visit Record


AFC Bournemouth
(Fitness First Stadium)

AFC Portchester
(Wicor Recreation Ground)

AFC Sudbury
(King's Marsh Stadium)

AFC Totton
(Testwood Park)

Aldershot Town
(Recreation Ground)

Alton Town
(Alton (Bass) Sports Ground)



Aston Villa
(Villa Park)



Basildon United
(Gardiners Close)

Billericay Town
(New Lodge)

Birmingham City
(St Andrews)

Blackburn Rovers
(Ewood Park)

(Bloomfield Road)

Bolton Wanderers
(Reebok Stadium)

Bolton Wanderers
(Burnden Park)

Boston United
(York Street)

Bradford City
(Valley Parade)

Braintree Town
(Cressing Road)

Brantham Athletic
(Brantham Athletic Sports & Social Club)

(Griffin Park)

Brighton & Hove Albion
(Withdean Stadium)

Brighton & Hove Albion
(Goldstone Ground)

Bristol City
(Ashton Gate)

Bristol Rovers

(Hayes Lane)

(Turf Moor)

(Gigg Lane)

Bury Town
(Ram Meadow)

Cambridge City
(Milton Road)

Cambridge United
(Abbey Stadium)

Charlton Athletic
(The Valley)

Chelmsford City
(New Writtle Street)

Chelmsford City
(Chelmsford Sport & Athletics Centre)

(Stamford Bridge)

Chester City
(Saunders Honda Stadium)

Colchester United
(Layer Road)

Cornard United
(Blackhouse Lane)

Coventry City
(Ricoh Arena)

Coventry City
(Highfield Road)

Crewe Alexandra
(Gresty Road)

Crystal Palace
(Selhurst Park)

Dagenham & Redbridge
(Victoria Road)

(Watling Street)

Debenham Leisure Centre

Derby County
(Pride Park)

Derby County
(Baseball Ground)

Diss Town
(Brewers Green Lane)

(Sparshatts Stadium)

Ely City
(Unwin Ground)

(Goodison Park)

Fareham Town
(Cams Alders)

FC Clacton
(Rush Green Bowl)

FC Fleetlands
(Lederle Lane)

Felixstowe & Walton United
(Dellwood Avenue)

Framlingham Town
(Sports Ground)

(Craven Cottage)


(Emerald Park)

Gosport Borough
(Privett Park)

Great Yarmouth Town
(Wellesley Recreation Ground)

Grimsby Town
(Blundell Park)

Hadleigh United

Halstead Town
(Rosemary Lane)

Hamble ASSC
(Follands Park)

Harwich & Parkeston
(Royal Oak)

Havant & Waterlooville
(West Leigh Park)

Heybridge Swifts
(Scraley Road)

(Glass World Stadium)

Horndean Town
(Five Heads Park)

Huddersfield Town
(Leeds Road)

Hull City
(KC Stadium)

Hull City
(Boothferry Park)

Ipswich Town
(Portman Road)

Ipswich Wanderers
(SEH Sports Ground )


Leeds United
(Elland Road)

Leicester City
(Walkers Stadium)

Leicester City
(Filbert Street)

(Victory Road)

Leyton Orient
(Brisbane Road)

Lincoln City
(Cincil Bank)


Long Melford

Lowestoft Town
(Crown Meadows)

Luton Town
(Kenilworth Road)

Manchester City
(Maine Road)

Manchester United
(Old Trafford)

(Ayresome Park)

(The New Den)

(The Den)

MK Dons
(National Hockey Stadium)

MK Dons

Needham Market

Netley Central Sports
(Station Road Recreation Ground)

Newcastle United
(St James' Park)

Newmarket Town
(Cricket Field Road)

Northampton Town
(County Ground)

Norwich City
(Carrow Road)

Nottingham Forest
(City Ground)

Notts County
(Meadow Lane)

Peterborough United
(London Road)

Petersfield Town
(Love Lane)

Plymouth Argyle
(Home Park)

Port Vale
(Vale Park)

(Fratton Park)

Preston North End

Queens Park Rangers
(Loftus Road)

(Madejski Stadium)

(Oakside Stadium)

Romsey Town
(Bypass Ground)

Rotherham United

Saffron Walden Town
(Catons Lane)

Salisbury City
(Raymond McEnhill Stadium)

Scunthorpe United
(Glanford Park)

Sheffield United
(Bramall Lane)

Sheffield Wednesday

Shrewsbury Town
(Gay Meadow)

Shrewsbury Town
(Prostar Stadium)

Soham Town Rangers
(Julius Martin Lane)

(St Mary's)

(The Dell)

Southend United
(Roots Hall)

St Albans City
(Clarence Park)

Stanway Rovers
(New Farm Road)

Stockport County
(Edgeley Park)

Stoke City
(Britannia Stadium)

Stoke City
(Victoria Ground)

Stowmarket Town
(Green Meadows Stadium)

(Stadium of Light)

Swaffham Town
(Shoemakers Lane)

Swindon Town
(County Ground)

Thetford Town
(Mundford Road)

Tiptree United
(Chapel Road)

Tottenham Hotspurs
(White Hart Lane)

United Services Portsmouth
(Victory Stadium)

(Vosper Thornycroft Sports Ground)

(Bescot Stadium)

(Fellows Park)

Walsham Le Willows
(Walsham Sports Club Ground)

(Vicarage Road)

Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium

West Bromwich Albion
(The Hawthorns)

West Ham United
(Upton Park)

Whitton United
(King George V Playing Field )

Wigan Athletic
(JJB Stadium)

(Plough Lane)

Winchester City
(Denplan City Ground)

Witham Town
(Spa Road)

Wivenhoe Town
(Broad Lane)

(Kingfield Stadium)

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Woodbrige Town
(Notcutts Park)

Worcester City
(St. Georges Lane)


Cardiff City
(Ninian Park)


(Pittodrie Stadium)

Heart of Midlothian
(Tynecastle Stadium)


Northern Spirit
(North Sydney Oval)


SW Wacker Innsbruck
(Tivoli Stadion)


RSC Anderlect
(Constant Vanden Stock Stadium)

FC Brugge

SV Zulte-Waregem


FC Kobenhavn
(Gladsaxe Stadion)

Helsingor IF
(Helsingor Stadion)


FC Flora
(Lillekula Stadium)


HJK Helsinki
(Finnair Stadium)

(Hietalahti Stadium)

Tampere United
(Tammelan Stadium)


(G.Guichard Stadium)


1. FC Koeln
(Mungersdorfer Stadion)

Borussia Dortmund
(Westfalenstadion )

1. FC Union Berlin
(Stadion An der Alten Försterei)


AZ Alkmaar
(Alkmaarder Hout)

AZ Alkmaar
(Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam)

FC Dordrecht
(GN Bouw Stadion)

FC Groningen

FC Utrecht
(Galgenwaard Stadion)

(De Kuip)

NEC Nijmegen
(Goffert Stadium)

PEC Zwolle

PSV Eindhoven
(Philips Stadion)

SC Heerenveen
(Abe Lenstra Stadium)

Twente Enschede
(Arke Stadion)

Twente Enschede
(Diekman Stadion)

Vitesse Arnhem

Willem II
(Willem II Stadion)


Bray Wanderers
(Carlisle Grounds)

Dublin City
(Tolka Park)


Inter Milan
(San Siro)


Avenir Beggen
(Stade Josy-Barthel)


Skeid Oslo


Widzew Lodz
(Stadion LKS)


(Nou Camp)

Real Madrid
(San Bernabeu)

(Luis Casanova)


Orgryte IS
(Gamla Ullevi (Old))

Helsingborgs IF
(Olympia Stadium)

Landskrona Bois

Malmo FF
(Malmo Stadion)

Mjallby AIF

Trelleborgs FF

IFK Goteborg


Chicago Sting
(Comiskey Park I)

Chicago Sting
(Wrigley Field)

Chicago Sting
(Chicago Stadium)

Chicago Sting
(Rosemont Horizon)

Chicago Sting
(Rockford MetroCenter)

Chicago Vultures

Milwaukee Bavarians
(Bavarian Center)

Schwaben AC
(Schwaben Center)

Tampa Bay Rowdies
(Tampa Bay Stadium)