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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Needham Market

Needham Market 0 Ipswich Town Reserves 3
Suffolk Premier Cup Quarter-Final
Bloomfields, Needham Market, Suffolk

Needham Market Matchday ProgrammeAfter an absence of some thirty years, Ipswich Town Reserves re-entered the Suffolk Premier Cup this season. They made relatively light work of Felixstowe & Walton United in round one, and in tonight’s tie short shrift was made of Needham Market to set up an interesting cross-Town derby against Ipswich Wanderers in the semi-finals next March.

These games provide a workout for reserve players starved of action following the ejection of Town (along with the second string’s of Norwich City, the MK Dons amongst others) from the FA Premier Reserve League during the close season. The games lost as a result of this have been made up somewhat by action in the reformed Pontin’s Holiday Football Combination League but not sufficient to ensure that all fringe players get a look in. Hence competing in the counties premier cup compo.

Anyway, it’s good for local sides to be able to pit themselves against the big boys from PR, it’s good exposure for the club too, while the gate money helps increase the coffers of the sides drawn against the Blue’s. 500 or so at Bloomfield’s tonight at a fiver a time.

Match Number: 1339

Official website: www.needhammarketfc.teamexpert.co.uk

Match report: www.needhammarketfc.teamexpert.co.uk

posted by chevblue at 10:09 pm 0 comments


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Fulham

Fulham 0 Reading 1
FA Barclaycard Premiership
Craven Cottage, London

Craven Cottage early 2004

And now the main event of the day ...

Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham since 1896, has to be one of the most pleasant settings for a football ground in the UK, sitting as it does to the north of a large public park on the bank of the River Thames. The last time I passed this way was in early 2004 when the ground was in the midst of a full makeover. Fulham were ground sharing with QPR at the time and the improvements to the clubs spiritual home signalled the end (certainly for the time being) of grandiose plans by the club to build a 40,000 seater stadium in White City, or elsewhere within the capital, running very much against the wishes of the majority of their fan’s. Common - and fiscal - sense prevailing as Mr Al-Fayed realised that his plans to turn the Cottagers into the "Manchester United of the south" wasn’t going to be quite as straightforward as he had first thought when he took over the club in the late 90’s.

The conversion of the ground into an all-seater affair, the installation of corporate boxes and a new roof at the Hammersmith End, plus a roof over the previously uncovered Putney End, have all been done with great taste, fitting in very well with the Grade II listed Johnny Haynes Stand on Stevenage Road (the only road access to the ground) and the famous Cottage in the south-east corner. The original architect of the stadium, Archibald Leitch, would be quite pleased with the efforts of his modern counterparts I’m sure.

The roofing of the Putney End, in addition to providing cover for the away supporters that are housed there, has upped the atmosphere inside the ground too. For a crowd of 22,000 it was certainly pretty noisy today, although most of the noise it must be said was being generated by Reading fan’s still relishing their sides first ever season in English football’s top flight. Ipswich Town’s last appearance in SW6 was back in 2001-02 and I had stood in the Putney End in the pouring rain, armed, rather embarrassingly, with my young daughters pink umbrella.

Match Number: 1338

Official website: www.fulhamfc.com

Match Report: www.telegraph.co.uk

posted by chevblue at 11:30 pm 1 comments


Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium, Wembley, Middlesex

Wembley Stadium

Walking around the exterior of the new Wembley Stadium it’s difficult to see what’s preventing it from seeing its first footie action. Although I do understand that there is snagging list as long as one of Peter Crouch’s arm’s, and each item needs to be sorted before Multiplex will formally hand the building over to the FA, and before any sort of license will be issued for its use. I seem to remember that the original plans for our new national stadium had it positioned slightly away from the site of the old one. Or maybe I’m just imagining it. Either way, it lines up nicely with the old Wembley way and forked pedestrian bridge. As you approach it along Wembley Way it’s difficult to look at anything other than the hugely impressive arch that sweeps majestically from one end of the stadium to the other. I’ve prattled on about this signature feature before in this blog but it is something special, particularly when lit up at night. So what’s waiting for us on the inside? 90,000 seats, a retractable roof, 107 steps instead of 39 take you to the Royal Box, Two Giant TV Screens and 600 smaller ones, 2,618 toilets, and lots lots more. See wembleystadium.com for more.

posted by chevblue at 11:00 pm 0 comments


Wembley Arena

Wembley Arena, Wembley, Middlesex

Wembley Arena

OK, not strictly a footballing venue, but the Wembley Arena has hosted indoor football, most notably the sadly now defunct Daily Express Five-A-Side’s, a televised tournament that was held there in the 1970’s. By pure luck I attended the tournament in ’77, the one and only time that Ipswich won the thing. And indeed bigger things were lurking on the horizon for the Blue’s as later that season (May 1978) they went onto lift the FA Cup at the neighbouring Wembley Stadium. Heady days indeed.

Better known these days as a music venue, the arena was originally built to house the swimming pool for the British Empire Games back in 1934. It has played host to Ice Hockey, Boxing, Trade Exhibitions, and some of the most famous names in the world of entertainment, and has recently undergone a major refurbishment, one of a number of projects, including the complete rebuild of Wembley Stadium, that are transforming the area. It reopened in April of this year.

Official website: www.wembley.co.uk

posted by chevblue at 10:30 pm 0 comments


Arsenal (Emirates Stadium)

Emirates Stadium, Islington, London

Emirates Stadium

My visit to Islington for a quick wander around the outside of Arsenal’s new home coincided with a torrential downpour and I was too busy trying to keep myself and camera dry to really pay that much attention, or form any meaningful opinion of this new £390 million addition to North London skyline. Inmac held a promotional bash at the Emirates Stadium a few weeks back, including seminars from several blue chip companies including IBM & Microsoft, in the executive boxes, and everyone who went was promised a tour of the ground. A friend of mine did just that so that he could compare this young upstart with the tradition of Portman Road!

The tour of the ground was cancelled but he still managed to take a couple of snaps of the playing area with his mobile phone. The one below shows some bizarre devices on the pitch, which are, in fact, light machines! They are used to shine light on the grass for the part of the pitch that was in the shade!! Islington light is obviously not good enough, and presumably the electricity was imported from France too. He was impressed overall with the stadium but, in his words:

Emirates Stadium

“Walking around the outside I noticed that (a) you can't tell one side from the other - there is no impressive entrance, and it all looks pretty bland, and (b) there is too much bare concrete which makes it look a bit like the Barbican. Maybe it worked in the 1970’s when the Barbican was built, and you can excuse it at the Nou Camp and the San Siro because they're a few years old, but at the Emirates Stadium in the 2000’s? There is a lot glass which looks great, and a couple of huge Arsenal logos which is impressive, but there is no need for so much concrete-coloured concrete to be on view. Shame.

“Inside there are 4 levels, a bit like the Royal Albert Hall. The top and bottom are for the unwashed masses, with the second level having big carpeted bars and space behind the seats, and the third level being wraparound executive boxes with three rows of seats outside. Not bad, but it will take long time for any tradition to build up and, because it all looks the same inside and out, it is hard to identify with a particular part of the ground, such as the old North Bank, or Churchmans, etc. “

A panorama of the exterior of the stadium can be found here.

posted by chevblue at 10:00 pm 0 comments


Arsenal (Highbury)

Emirates Stadium, Islington, London

Highbury

With Arsenal tube station closed for refurbishment, fan’s heading to the Emirates Stadium need to take the Victoria line to Finsbury Park and then make a fifteen minute trek across the Borough of Islington to the Gunner’s new home. This walk can take you past the old Highbury ground – and what a bizarre sight it is.

All that is left of the 1990’s North Bank is a few steel girders, while the other end, the former Clock End, is completely gone, leaving an uninterrupted view from Gillespie Road across what would have been the pitch to the backs of the terraced houses on Aubert Park to the south. The uninformed passer-by is given no hint of some of the great games that have taken place here since Arsenal became the first football franchise, uprooting and moving here from Woolwich in 1913. Crowds on 60,000 plus were not uncommon, and yours truly has watched a number of games here played out in front of crowds approaching that number.

The listed Art Deco East Stand and it’s opposite number on the former west touchline are to be preserved, and turned into apartments (700 of them), in a housing scheme known as "Highbury Square". Where the pitch once lay there will be a communal garden. A fitting end for the “Library”.

Farewell to Highbury: www.arsenal.com

Highbury Square Apartments (there’s a few left): www.thestadium-highbury

posted by chevblue at 9:30 pm 0 comments






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Ground Visit Record

ENGLAND

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)

Arsenal
(Emirates)

Arsenal
(Highbury)

Aston Villa
(Villa Park)

Barnet
(Underhill)

Barnsley
(Oakwell)

Basildon United
(Gardiners Close)

Billericay Town
(New Lodge)

Birmingham City
(St Andrews)

Blackburn Rovers
(Ewood Park)

Blackpool
(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)

Brentford
(Griffin Park)

Brighton & Hove Albion
(Withdean Stadium)

Brighton & Hove Albion
(Goldstone Ground)

Bristol City
(Ashton Gate)

Bristol Rovers
(Eastville)

Bromley
(Hayes Lane)

Burnley
(Turf Moor)

Bury
(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)

Chelsea
(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)

Dartford
(Watling Street)

Debenham Leisure Centre
(Maitlands)

Derby County
(Pride Park)

Derby County
(Baseball Ground)

Diss Town
(Brewers Green Lane)

Eastleigh
(Sparshatts Stadium)

Ely City
(Unwin Ground)

Everton
(Goodison Park)

Fareham Town
(Cams Alders)

FC Clacton
(Rush Green Bowl)

FC Fleetlands
(Lederle Lane)

Felixstowe & Walton United
(Dellwood Avenue)

Framlingham Town
(Sports Ground)

Fulham
(Craven Cottage)

Gillingham
(Priestfield)

Gorleston
(Emerald Park)

Gosport Borough
(Privett Park)

Great Yarmouth Town
(Wellesley Recreation Ground)

Grimsby Town
(Blundell Park)

Hadleigh United
(Millfield)

Halstead Town
(Rosemary Lane)

Hamble ASSC
(Follands Park)

Harwich & Parkeston
(Royal Oak)

Havant & Waterlooville
(West Leigh Park)

Heybridge Swifts
(Scraley Road)

Histon
(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 )

Kingstonians
(Kingsmeadow)

Leeds United
(Elland Road)

Leicester City
(Walkers Stadium)

Leicester City
(Filbert Street)

Leiston
(Victory Road)

Leyton Orient
(Brisbane Road)

Lincoln City
(Cincil Bank)

Liverpool
(Anfield)

Long Melford
(Stoneylands)

Lowestoft Town
(Crown Meadows)

Luton Town
(Kenilworth Road)

Manchester City
(Maine Road)

Manchester United
(Old Trafford)

Middlesborough
(Ayresome Park)

Millwall
(The New Den)

Millwall
(The Den)

MK Dons
(National Hockey Stadium)

MK Dons
(stadium:mk)

Needham Market
(Bloomfields)

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)

Portsmouth
(Fratton Park)

Preston North End
(Deepdale)

Queens Park Rangers
(Loftus Road)

Reading
(Madejski Stadium)

Redbridge
(Oakside Stadium)

Romsey Town
(Bypass Ground)

Rotherham United
(Millmoor)

Saffron Walden Town
(Catons Lane)

Salisbury City
(Raymond McEnhill Stadium)

Scunthorpe United
(Glanford Park)

Sheffield United
(Bramall Lane)

Sheffield Wednesday
(Hillsborough)

Shrewsbury Town
(Gay Meadow)

Shrewsbury Town
(Prostar Stadium)

Soham Town Rangers
(Julius Martin Lane)

Southampton
(St Mary's)

Southampton
(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)

Sunderland
(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)

VT FC
(Vosper Thornycroft Sports Ground)

Walsall
(Bescot Stadium)

Walsall
(Fellows Park)

Walsham Le Willows
(Walsham Sports Club Ground)

Watford
(Vicarage Road)

Wembley Stadium
(Old)

Wembley Stadium
(New)

West Bromwich Albion
(The Hawthorns)

West Ham United
(Upton Park)

Whitton United
(King George V Playing Field )

Wigan Athletic
(JJB Stadium)

Wimbledon
(Plough Lane)

Winchester City
(Denplan City Ground)

Witham Town
(Spa Road)

Wivenhoe Town
(Broad Lane)

Woking
(Kingfield Stadium)

Wolverhampton Wanderers
(Molineux)

Woodbrige Town
(Notcutts Park)

Worcester City
(St. Georges Lane)

WALES

Cardiff City
(Ninian Park)

SCOTLAND

Aberdeen
(Pittodrie Stadium)

Heart of Midlothian
(Tynecastle Stadium)

AUSTRALIA

Northern Spirit
(North Sydney Oval)

AUSTRIA

SW Wacker Innsbruck
(Tivoli Stadion)

BELGIUM

RSC Anderlect
(Constant Vanden Stock Stadium)

FC Brugge
(Olympiastadion)

SV Zulte-Waregem
(Regenboogstadion)

DENMARK

FC Kobenhavn
(Gladsaxe Stadion)

Helsingor IF
(Helsingor Stadion)

ESTONIA

FC Flora
(Lillekula Stadium)

FINLAND

HJK Helsinki
(Finnair Stadium)

VPS
(Hietalahti Stadium)

Tampere United
(Tammelan Stadium)

FRANCE

St.Etienne
(G.Guichard Stadium)

GERMANY

1. FC Koeln
(Mungersdorfer Stadion)

Borussia Dortmund
(Westfalenstadion )

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

HOLLAND

AZ Alkmaar
(Alkmaarder Hout)

AZ Alkmaar
(Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam)

FC Dordrecht
(GN Bouw Stadion)

FC Groningen
(Euroborg)

FC Utrecht
(Galgenwaard Stadion)

Feyenoord
(De Kuip)

NEC Nijmegen
(Goffert Stadium)

PEC Zwolle
(Oosterenkstadion)

PSV Eindhoven
(Philips Stadion)

SC Heerenveen
(Abe Lenstra Stadium)

Twente Enschede
(Arke Stadion)

Twente Enschede
(Diekman Stadion)

Vitesse Arnhem
(Gelredome)

Willem II
(Willem II Stadion)

IRELAND

Bray Wanderers
(Carlisle Grounds)

Dublin City
(Tolka Park)

ITALY

Inter Milan
(San Siro)

LUXEMBOURG

Avenir Beggen
(Stade Josy-Barthel)

NORWAY

Skeid Oslo
(Ulevall)

POLAND

Widzew Lodz
(Stadion LKS)

SPAIN

Barcelona
(Nou Camp)

Real Madrid
(San Bernabeu)

Valencia
(Luis Casanova)

SWEDEN

Orgryte IS
(Gamla Ullevi (Old))

Helsingborgs IF
(Olympia Stadium)

Landskrona Bois
(Idrottspark)

Malmo FF
(Malmo Stadion)

Mjallby AIF
(Strandvallen)

Trelleborgs FF
(Vangavallen)

IFK Goteborg
(Ullevi)

USA

Chicago Sting
(Comiskey Park I)

Chicago Sting
(Wrigley Field)

Chicago Sting
(Chicago Stadium)

Chicago Sting
(Rosemont Horizon)

Chicago Sting
(Rockford MetroCenter)

Chicago Vultures
(Odeum)

Milwaukee Bavarians
(Bavarian Center)

Schwaben AC
(Schwaben Center)

Tampa Bay Rowdies
(Tampa Bay Stadium)