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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Revisited: FC Flora Tallinn

July 22, 2001
FC Flora Tallinn 1 Ipswich Town 5
Lilleküla Stadium, Tallinn, Estonia

FC Flora Tallinn

England’s next stop on their Euro 2008 qualification trail is the Lilleküla Stadium in Tallinn where Steve McLaren’s boys will take on Estonia on June 6th. On a pre-season tour of Finland and Estonia back in 2001, Ipswich stopped off in the Estonian capital for a game that, I believe, was billed as the official opening of the Lilleküla Stadium. Although the stadium was far from being finished as far as I recall.

FC Flora Tallinn

Lot’s of building material lying about and not a single toilet available inside the stadium, which caused a certain amount of discomfort for the Town fan’s that had been sitting in the historic town square, catching a few rays and drinking beer for a good few hours before the early evening kick-off.

FC Flora Tallinn

The Lilleküla Stadium replaced the Kadrioru Stadium as the Estonian FA’s home. The Kadrioru, you may remember, hosted the “game that never was” in 1996. The kick-off of the World Cup qualifier due to be played there between Estonia and Scotland was moved to daylight hours after UEFA deemed it’s floodlights unfit for an evening fixture. The ruling angered the Estonians who boycotted the game, leaving Scotland to take to the field on their own. Captain John Collins took the kick-off and then raised his arms in victory after just three seconds of play.

FC Flora Tallinn

While Town had around fifty fans in the town square before the 2001 game and Scots had packed in thousands back in 1996 – an occasion fondly remembered by the locals we spoke to. The square, in the medieval old town, became a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997, and is really quite charming, once boasting the tallest building in the world – the 15th Century 159 metre high spire of St. Olav's Church!

FC Flora Tallinn

One of Extreme Grounhopping’s early attempts at stitching together pictures to create a panorama (of the Lilleküla Stadium) can be found here.

FC Flora Tallinn

posted by chevblue at 9:15 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Gosport Borough

Gosport Borough 2 VT FC 2
Sydenhams Wessex Premier League
Privett Park, Gosport, Hampshire

Gosport BoroughThe point from this game leaves Gosport Borough just a single point behind league leaders AFC Totton. With Totton in action this weekend against Billingham Synthonia in the second leg of the FA Trophy semi-finals, a win against Poole Town, who visit Privett Park on Saturday, could put the Boro’ top of the Wessex Premier League. With just seven games to follow after that, and with Gosport finishing the season with a visit to AFC Totton, it’s going to be a very exciting climax to the 2006-07 campaign.

Spring is finally here and the mild and sunny weather that accompanied the change to British Summer Time over the weekend has continued into the week making for a pleasant start to the evening. One hundred and twenty paying spectators, taking advantage in the break from the cold and damp, saw the Boro’ take an early lead against third placed VT, a looping header by Ian Rew catching the visitor’s keeper out of position. But VT (an entirely different side to the one I watched defeat Brading Town 1-0 in a dire contest a fortnight ago) were quickly level through a Ryan Ashford free-kick that Ronaldino would have been proud of. A howler of a clearance by Boro’s usually dependable ‘keeper Mark Brown allowed Tyrone Bower’s to put the visitors ahead, so 1-2 it was at the break. Despite laying siege to the visitors goal for large tracts of the second half it wasn’t until the 75th minute that Boro got the equalizer their patience merited, Warren Byerley firing past the VT ‘keeper to keep Boro’s title aspirations very much alive.

Match Number: 1362

posted by chevblue at 11:58 pm 4 comments

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Revisited: Croke Park

Croke Park

Back in August 2001 Town were playing Dublin City at Tolka Park, to the north of Dublin City centre on the main road out to the airport. This route took Extreme Groundhopping Jnr and myself past Croke Park (home of the Gaelic Athletic Association, the GAA) which at the time was in the middle of one of several phases of a rebuilding programme originally begun in the early 1990’s. This particular phase involved the construction of the Hogand Stand which would complete the three-sided, and covered, seating area.

The fourth side, an uncovered terrace, is the famous Hill 16, which was built with rubble taken from the city following the Easter Rising in 1916. The terrace also bore witness to another tragic event in Anglo-Irish history which saw the Black & Tans (the nickname given to an auxiliary division of the British Army) fire indiscriminately into the crowd killing fourteen fans attending a Gaelic football match in 1920.

The Canal End Stand (pictured) and the Cusack Stand to its right dwarfed the surrounding area. Six years on and the finished stadium, with a total capacity of 82,500 making it the 5th largest in the EU, must look truly awesome. The stadium has featured quite often on the back pages of late. With Lansdowne Road currently being redeveloped, both the Irish RFU and the Irish FA needed a home for there respective teams in the interim. The possibility of either playing at Croke Park would have been unheard of just a few years ago, with the GAA formed originally to protect the future of indigenous sports and to oppose “imported” ones.

But various rules have been temporarily relaxed to allow the first ever Rugby Union International to be held there just last month, and the very first Football international followed earlier today as 72,500 watched the Republic of Ireland defeat Wales in a Euro 2008 qualifier. Fitting perhaps that the one-nil win for Steve Staunton’s side should be scored by Ireland, Stephen Ireland that is.

posted by chevblue at 9:20 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


VT FC 1 Brading Town 0
Sydenhams Wessex Premier League
Vosper Thornycroft Sports Ground, Sholing, Hampshire

VT FCWorking, as I do, half way between Southampton and Portsmouth there is around a fifty-fifty make-up - between those who express an allegiance between one or the other - of Saints and Pompey fan’s at the office. The healthy banter between the two groups involves a fair amount of name calling, Portsmouth fan’s calling the Southampton fans Scummer’s and the Southampton fan’s calling the Portsmouth fan’s Skates. The later being a new one on me which I’ll come to in a second. Scummer is an acronym for, I’m led to believe, Southampton City Union Men, after men from Southampton were used as black leg workers during a strike in Portsmouth during the 1930’s. While the strike at the Naval Dockyards did actually happen it is thought unlikely that docker’s from a trade port (which Southampton largely was) would have been used at Naval facilities. Indeed there is no written record of any such thing. The story most likely concocted as a means to incite the two rival sets of fans. As if they needed any help. Skates is a name used for Naval personnel, and is a reference to the flat fish found at one time in such abundance in the Atlantic and used, I’m told, as a substitute for female companionship during long spells at sea by HM’s Navy. I’ll leave your imagination to run with that one.

Tonight’s hosts, VT FC, once Vosper Thornycroft FC, were born as the works sides of Vosper Thornycroft one of the world’s major ship builders who, until recently, had a ship building facility on the River Itchen at nearby Woolston (on the outskirts of Southampton). The facility closed in 2003 to be replaced by a modern affair over in Portsmouth Harbour (on the outskirts of, er, Portsmouth). VT, the football club, joined the Wessex League as recently as 2004, after twenty-three seasons in the Hampshire League, where they were champions twice. Their ground, in Sholing, is just a mile or so from the park and ride facility for those travelling to St Mary’s for Southampton games. And there was one tonight, the Saint’s taking on Cardiff City, so the final mile or so of my journey to took slightly longer than expected. But, arriving with fifteen minutes to spare until kick-off, I was still greeted as the first paying spectator of the evening at the barrier to the car park that also doubles as a turnstile into the VT Sports Ground.

“You’re the first one ‘ere” I was told when I wound down the car window, but misheard as “You the only one in there?” creating a confusing few seconds in which I thought I was being accused of trying to sneak in non-paying spectators. There’s barely room for my large frame in my 206 let alone anyone else. Confusing these Hampshire accents with pronounced changes in such short geographical distances. Which brings me back to Portsmouth and Southampton, where residents of the former all talk a bit like ‘Arry Redknapp, and call each other “mush”, and the latter who all sound like Mick Channon and call each other “Lover”.

Match Number: 1361

posted by chevblue at 11:34 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Gosport Borough

Gosport Borough Reserves 1 Bemerton Heath Harlequins Reserves 0
Sydenhams Wessex Combination League
Privett Park, Gosport, Hampshire

Even in the sparse crowd at tonight’s game there was a high proportion of fan’s showing an allegiance to Portsmouth FC in the form of hats, shirts and jackets carrying the club crest. Not surprising I guess as Portsmouth is a short ferry ride away from Gosport – the Portsmouth Spinnaker is clearly visible from the Privett Park Grandstand, as indeed it is for miles around – and Fratton Park is the only ground within eighty miles currently hosting top flight football. Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp made an interesting point in a TV interview with the BBC a few years back that Portsmouth is very much a one team town in that you don’t see the profusion of club colours that you see in other towns and cities – you just see those of Pompey. The usual “patronise the home support” nonsense you may think but no he was spot on. The kid’s that have a post-school kick about in the alley behind my lodgings here in Gosport wear – if they are wearing football kit at all – the colours of PFC. A similar scene in my home of Ipswich would feature the kits of Arsenal, Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool and, if your really lucky, an ITFC shirt.

Match Number: 1359

posted by chevblue at 10:43 pm 0 comments

Cross-Town Derby

Ipswich WanderersUp in Suffolk tonight Ipswich Wanderers will take on Ipswich Town Reserves in the semi-final of the Suffolk Premier Cup. Around 1,000 are expected to attend a sell-out game at the Wanderers Humber Douchy Lane ground (a few hundred yards away from Town’s own Playford Road training ground and Academy facilities). Having co-sponsored the match ball it would have been nice to have made the game, but with a mortgage to pay work considerations take priority and I’ll be staying put in Hampshire, where I will probably watch Gosport Borough Reserves take on their counterparts from Bemerton Heath in the Wessex Combination League.

posted by chevblue at 5:18 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fareham Town

Fareham Town v Brading Town
(match postponed waterlogged pitch)
Sydenhams Wessex Premier League
Cam Alders, Fareham, Hampshire

Not doing that well for games down in Hampshire at the moment, this being the second game that has been postponed on me in the past two weeks, and the third this season to have fallen foul of the weather. As I type this it’s raining again in what seems to be a never ending series of showers and storms across the south.

Just got back from my abortive trip to Cam Alders in time to watch Liverpool kick off against Barcelona live on ITV, which was an entertaining enough affair enlivened by a flow of text messages (goal flashes) from a mate at the KC Stadium, Kingston-upon-Hull, as Ipswich put five past Hull City (their first goals away from home since last year) for a 5-2 Championship victory. Remember Francis Jeffers who Arsenal paid Everton £8 Million for a few years back? Well he played his second game for Town since joining on loan from current club Blackburn last week and scored Ipswich’s first of the night and set-up two others.

I’m currently reading Margrave of the Marshes, the late John Peel’s autobiography. He would have been pleased with both results tonight. As a well known Liverpool fan, he’d have been quite chuffed with the Reds progress to the Champions League Quarter-Final stage. He also had a bit of a soft spot for the boys in Blue and White too, living close to Ipswich (the East Anglian badlands he liked to call them), he and his wife Sheila were season ticket holders at Portman Road. There are a couple of oblique references to this double allegiance within the text of this great book that has managed to make he laugh and cry simultaneously. What a fantastic life he had.

posted by chevblue at 10:14 pm 0 comments

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extreme groundhopping

a (mainly) pictorial account of one man's obsession with football stadia, floodlight pylon's and ipswich town football club

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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)