Sunday, April 29, 2007
Arsenal 3 Fulham 1
A day out in London today for Extreme Groundhopping Jnr and I with plans to meet up with a group of Fulham supporting pals at Kings Cross around noon. From there a short tube ride to Finsbury Park and a short-ish walk after that to Arsenal’s shiny new home at the Emirates Stadium. This was a key day for the Cottager’s in their bid to avoid relegation from the Premiership, but more on that in a minute.
From Finsbury Park you walk south towards the old Highbury Stadium (the historic Facade (back wall) is all that is all that is left of the old West Stand) and along Gillespie Road past Arsenal tube station. With the Emirates Stadium being so close to Arsenal’s historic home many of the street vendors who have plied their trade around Highbury down the years have stayed put for match days and still do a roaring trade in food and souvenirs.
You turn the corner onto Drayton Park Road and there looming ahead is the North Bank bridge one of two pedestrian bridges built over the railway line that passes along the west side of the new stadium. The other is the Clock End Bridge and both take their names from the stands behinds the goals at the old ground.
Having crossed the bridge you enter a huge plaza (for want of a better word) that surrounds three sides of the Emirates. There’s lots of concrete, steel and glass, with the odd Arsenal club badge and Emirates logo scattered around, but no real focal point – or stand out feature as such. But there is plenty of space, and despite another 60,000 sell-out today nowhere feels over crowded. It’s almost pleasant!
Anti-clockwise we continued around the outside past the gated entrance to the underground car park and VIP stadium access into which the Fulham club coach was passing as we walked by. A quick peek in the Armoury, Arsenals’ megastore, and then onto one of the many official concessions scattered around the ground.
One of my Fulham pal’s was in search of the mythical super expensive Emirates burger, at £8.00 the most expensive burger in British sport. But a myth it proved to be. No burgers available at all from official outlets, so we made do with a Balti pie at £4.00 a pop. A Coke will set you back £2.00 whilst for a beer you’ll need to part with £3.25! But the official programme – at just £3.00 – was a good read according to Junior.
On to the away section or Green Quadrant as our tickets and stadium signage are helpfully labelled. Visitor’s tickets were priced at £32.00, the low end of the Emirates pricing structure, which, at its upper end, reaches a dizzying £66.00. And that’s just the regular seating. In the premium seating area (the lower middle ring around the stadium) prices start at £2,500 per season.
Automatic gates allow you in once you’ve worked out that your ticket has an RFID tag embedded in it and you need to wave it in front of a reader. Fortunately there was a helpful security chap at our gate to help old duffers like me work out how to get in!
The space theme continued on the inside of the Emirates with lots of room in the concourse and minimal queuing at the plentiful and well staffed concession stands. One complaint here is the provision of toilets. At half-time it would prove to be quite a scramble to relieve myself of the coke I had consumed before the game.
Our seats were right on the aisle leading up from the south east corner flag and 17 rows back giving a pretty good view of the pitch. And with ample leg room and extra deep seats this was not bad at all. This is the lower of four seating levels inside the Emirates. The top and bottom are for the proletariat, 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. It’s noisy, but you would expect that given that there are 23,000 more Arsenal fans inside the Emirates than there was at Highbury in its final days.
Fulham have shifted into free fall over the past few months and have not won since early February. As a consequence they find themselves just above the relegation zone with only three games left including today’s London Derby with the Gunners. And you could see why in a first half in which they put on a woeful performance and found themselves a goal down after just 4 minutes, Julio Baptista firing home from close range.
The second half was a different matter as Fulham pressed for an equaliser that duly came 13 minutes from the end when Simon Davies took advantage of a flap by Arsenal ‘keeper Jens Lehmann and lobbed the ball home from the edge of the box. But almost immediately Emmanuel Adebayor broke to put the home side back in front and Gilberto Silva's penalty secured the points for Arsenal with three minutes to go. The Cottager’s will have to come up with something special against Liverpool next week to avoid finding themselves in the bottom three come the final day of the season.
So game over and we exited south past the ARSENAL statue lettering (as featured in the opening credits of MOTD) and down the Holloway Road towards Highbury & Islington Tube Station. Here we expected to have to queue for ages (based on prior experience doing the same thing at Upton Park and the old Wembley). But no. All very well organised and we were down on the platform and away on a train less than 30 minutes after the full time whistle. Chalk one up for Tfl.
Match Number: 1370
Friday, April 27, 2007
The Humble Turnstile
In my coverage of last week’s trip to AFC Portchester I confess to being a bit hasty in my dating of their newly installed turnstile (which I had put at around circa 1930). To rectify the matter I since been doing a bit of investigation and can now confirm that the model of said turnstile is almost certainly an Ellison’s Patented Rush Preventative Turnstile (see add above) manufactured in Salford, Manchester, anywhere between 1895 and 1963.
Two companies in the Manchester area (WT Ellison & Co and WH Bailey) produced the majority of turnstiles installed at British stadia from the mid-1890’s to the 1980’s and in the intervening years the designs produced by both companies changed very little. The Ellison turnstile originally sold for just over £7 and had two features to separate it from its rivals. A foot pedal allowed the operator to lock and unlock the turnstile as each spectator passed through, allowing just one paying customer through at a time. It also had a finely engineered, and tamper-proof, brass mechanism with ceramic counters, to allow officials to tally the gate against monies collected. WT Ellison client’s found that their receipts rose considerably once the devices were in pace!
One-hundred units were in place when the old Wembley Stadium opened in 1923 and other famous stadiums on Ellison’s customer list included Hampden Park, Twickenham, Murrayfield, Old Trafford and Highbury. A testament to their durability (they were rated at upto 4,000 entrants per hour) is the fact that thirteen of them were still in pace at Manchester City’s Maine Road ground when it closed it’s doors for the last time in 2003. And three of those are believed to have dated from 1896!
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Fareham Town 1 Brading Town 2
That’s it for Wessex League action for me this season. I’ll be keeping fingers crossed for Gosport Borough in their attempt to lift the Premier League title, and that AFC Totton, who are top of the league on goal difference as I write this, lift the FA Vase at the new Wembley in May, where I shall be cheering them on. Good night!
Match Number: 1369
Monday, April 16, 2007
AFC Portchester 1 Otterbourne 2
Quite a transformation at the Wicor Recreation Ground, home of AFC Portchester, since my last visit there at the beginning of the 2005-06 season. What was previously a roped off section of grass in one corner of a public playing field is now the start of a neat little ground. Enclosed by an outer perimeter fence (sadly already showing signs of vandalism) on the inside the pitch is circled by steel railings and hard standing for spectators. There are two brand new dug outs along the eastern touchline and brand new changing facilities too.
Plans are also afoot to install floodlights (acquired from Bournemouth) and to have perimeter advertising in place for the 2007-08 campaign. Clearly this club has a bit of ambition and the changes, which meet ground requirements for steps 5 & 6 of the non-league football ladder, mean the side will be able to play above Wessex Division Two level, should they achieve promotion at some point in the future.
What will probably set the heart of any groundhopper/anorak all a flutter is the turnstile that has been installed, but not yet commissioned, at the main entrance. All shiny and posh looking in a recently applied coat of black paint the single circa 1930’s contraption, purchased from Norwich, looks quite the business. Sadly, the team doesn’t. Conceding a goal direct from a free-kick and having a player dismissed in the first ten minutes didn’t get them off to the best of starts, and while they managed to get on level terms after twenty, the one man disadvantage showed in the second half with Otterbourne finding the winner ten minutes in.
Match Number: 1368
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Fleetlands 0 Stoneham 0
Games at this level are very much about the taking part, rather than the watching, in my humble opinion, although this was an acceptable game for the dozen or so spectators on hand at Fleetlands’ attractive Lederle Lane ground. Fleetlands lost out to Gosport Borough Reserves in the Portsmouth Senior Cup final at Havant & Waterlooville’s Westleigh Park last Wednesday by two goals to nil. With Gosport bolstered by a number of first team regulars, Fleetlands defended resolutely by all accounts, keeping the score at a respectable level despite having had a defender red carded for a professional foul. Defending was the key to tonight’s game too, with the backline’s of both sides easily dealing with the minimal number of chances created by either Fleetlands or visitors Stoneham.
Pictures of Lederle Lane, taken during one of my two previous visits in 2005, can be found here.
Match Number: 1366
Monday, April 09, 2007
Gosport Borough 3 Fareham Town 0
A crowd of around 360 were on hand to watch the Boro’ leapfrog FA Vase finalists AFC Totton into first place with a comprehensive victory over local rivals Fareham Town in this Easter Monday derby. With AFC Totton having surprisingly lost at home to Moneyfields in a lunchtime kick-off - Wembley praying on their minds perhaps – Gosport knew that a win would put them top of the Wessex Premier Division with a game in hand and just five matches left to play.
A disappointing affair it must be said (particularly so having set off from Suffolk early this morning specifically to watch the game), with Fareham offering very little up front during the ninety minutes and Gosport finishing clinically when presented with goal scoring opportunities. For the record the goals were scored by Wilson (24’), Singh (31’) and Scammell (85’) while the one visiting player prepared to mix it a bit, Hunt, was red carded in the 78th minute for elbowing Gill in the face.
Match Number: 1365
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Ipswich Town 5 Barnsley 1
Juniors and my season ticket renewals dropped through the letter box mid-March, a full five months before the new season starts, and two months before the end of the current one. Concerned that many fans will not renew after such a poor season all sorts of additional carrots have been dangled in front of waiverer’s this past week. For one a 50% discount on a premiership season ticket should Ipswich gain promotion in the next two seasons. If today’s performance, that saw Barnsley ripped apart by a rampant Town attack, is seen by those attending as a promise of things to come then renewals will be returned to the ticket office at a healthy rate.
Match Number: 1365
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Tennis Borussia, Mommsenstadion, Berlin-Charlottenberg, Germany
The 15,000 Mommsenstadion sits in the leafy suburbs of Berlin-Charlottenberg, just to the west of the Berlin Messe (Exhibition centre). Owner’s Tennis Borussia formed, as perhaps the name suggests, as a Tennis and Ping-Pong club in 1902 the football side of things beginning a year later. A one time challenger to Hertha Berlin as the capitals top side, they just missed out on entry into the Bundesliga when it came into being in 1963, and a brief late-1990’s revival aside, have slowly slipped off the pace, just surviving financial collapse to come to rest in Oberliga Nordost-Nord, the fourth tier of pro-football in Germany. Just 450 turned up for TeBe’s last home game.
Well that’s it for Berlin for now but I really do hope to get back here at some point in the future because there’s plenty more grounds still to visit. Oh yes, before I go just a quick mention this summer’s UEFA U-21 Championship being held in Holland. Junior and I are heading over to catch a few games in the group stages of what promises to be a great tournament. Two years ago we watched a number of games in the FIFA World Youth Championships, also held in the Netherlands, which were all of a very high quality. This June we’ll be at the games between Portugal & Belgium, Czech Republic & England, Israel & Belgium and Czech Republic & Serbia. See you there perhaps.
Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark
Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg, Germany
As you may have guessed from my last two posts I am quite enjoying my visit to Berlin, and so too, I might add, is Mrs Extreme Groundhopping. There is some stunning architecture in Germany’s capital City, the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, etc., etc. The Bauhaus Archiv is my good lady’s favourite so far, while my favourite site is, by a country mile, or should that be kilometres, the Olympiastadion. It’s not just the big things that make this such a fascinating place to visit but the less obvious things too, such as the rather quaint Ampelmännchen and for many years Germany’s favourite fast food, Currywurst.
Ampelmännchen is the symbol used on pedestrian traffic lights in the former DDR. When red the male character, complete with hat, extends out a hand to signal stop while the green equivalent appears to confidently stride out across the road. Following reunification in the late 80’s Ampelmännchen survived attempts to standardise road signalling across Germany and now appears in many places in the west too. Currywurst is quite simply a hot pork sausage cut into slices and seasoned with ketchup and varying amounts of curry powder. Served with either a bread roll or with fries (smothered with mayonnaise), this Berlin invention makes for a great snack.
It’s great too to be able to see many of the locations used in the excellent 1960’s film Funeral in Berlin that starred Michael Caine as British agent Harry Palmer in Len Deighton’s classic Cold War drama. But enough of that. While Berlin has just the one top flight club – Hertha Berlin – there is certainly no shortage of lower level clubs or stadia. The Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark is the first of two stadiums we plan to visit today, in amongst visits to other sites of more interest to my long suffering better half.
At the beginning of this season the stadium became the home of Oberliga Nordost-Nord side BAK Ankaraspor 07. Used by Hertha Berlin - in preference to the Olympiastadion - when small crowds are expected, the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, built in 1951, holds 20,000 (all-seated). The Stasi backed Dynamo Berlin played their DDR-Oberliga games here, although they now use the Sportforum Hohenschönhausen further out into the eastern suburbs, and the East German national side played ten international matches here between 1951 and 1990.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
1.FC Union Berlin
1.FC Union Berlin 0 Holstein Kiel 2
A forest setting, at sundown, in a crumbling stadium, with a boisterous and very loud six thousand plus crowd, a fracas between the police and the visiting fans just after the break and a corking goal from a free-kick to settle this German Regionalliga match. What a way to end another most enjoyable day in Berlin.
A forty minute U-Bahn (underground) and S-Bahn (local railway) trip south east out of Berlin takes me into what was formerly East Germany and the suburb of Köpenick. The origins of 1.FC Union Berlin, the name the club has carried since 1966, date back to the beginning of the last century. At one time the club drew huge crowds, across the city at the Olympiastadion, but now relies on the support of the relatively meagre crowds that turn out to watch Regionalliga Nord action (the 3rd level of German football). Union did reach the final of the German Cup as recently as 2001 and also made a relatively successful appearance in the UEFA Cup in 2001-02 when they reached the second round. More details of which can be found here.
With a squat all-seater stand along one touchline, the remaining three sides of the Alte Försterei Stadion are all terraced. While the popular end appeared to be in good order the remaining two sides were crumbling affairs that would not get a license from the relevant authorities for any level of football back in the UK. But the atmosphere created by the fans standing on them was pretty special, and noisy, for a crowd of just 6,000 (the total capacity is 18,100).
Hooliganism is still very much an issue in the Bundesrepublik, particular amongst the followers of teams from the east, and a ruck between away fans and riot helmetted police bore witness to this shortly after the half-time interval. A huge plume of smoke billowed out from the “Gäste” section – a flare or large firework perhaps – and the police moved in to remove the offending fans, sparking a melle.
The game itself wasn’t too much to write home about with very little in the way of goalmouth action apart from the two goals. A side footed effort after 63 minutes, following a break down the right, put Holstein Kiel ahead, and matters were settled at two-nil from a rocket of a free kick taken from a good twenty-five yards out with just six minutes to go. Watch a game at the Alte Försterei if you can. It’s a must for REAL football fans.
Match Number: 1364
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Olympiastadion, Berlin, Germany
Arriving at the Olympic Stadium from the U-Bahn (underground) station your first site of the stadium proper is across the Olympic Square. You can see that the stadium is going to be a biggy but it’s not until you reach it’s entrance, at the massive Olympic gate, that you begin to get a true impression of how big the whole complex is.
Crossing from the gate to the main east entrance, you enter the stadium at mid-level. The pitch and the lower seating ring is below ground level, and the upper level rises above you, with the new roof - added for the 2006 World Cup finals - atop that. It’s cavernous. While it may not match the likes of the Nou Camp, Old Trafford, etc., in terms of capacity (74,228), the view across to the Marathon Gate, where the Olympic Flame stands, quite takes the breath away. Really!
The Berlin Olympic site, as it is now referred to, was once the Adolf Hitler’s Reichssportfeld, before that the site of the aborted (due to WWI) 1916 Olympics, and prior to that a race track and the German National Stadium, which the Reichssportfeld swallowed up.
The larger elements of the Reichssportfeld, built for the 1936 Olympics, are still very much in evidence. From east to west are the aforementioned Olympic Square and Stadium (original capacity 100,000). Beyond that there is the 28-acre May Field, with a huge 60,000 capacity stand on its far side, topped by a 247 foot clock tower. The May Field was used for gymnastic events, and the like, and when fully in use could hold as many as 250,000. And just fifty meters behind that is an amphitheatre, it’s capacity a mere 25,000. The Nazi’s wanted something big and Architect Werner March delivered it.
Re-modelled for the 1974 World Cup – roofs were added along two of its flanks - it played host to a number of group matches. But it was the decision to stage last years World Cup final there that led to a flurry of activity and a €242 million spend to bring the 70 year old stadium fully up to date. Home of Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin, Berlin Thunder (American Football) and annual host to the German Cup final, this is a stadium not to be missed.
Various panoramic views of the stadium can be found over on our big brother site, where you can find shots taken from the lower level and upper level’s. Further info on the stadium can be found at Wikipedia and the Official Olympiastadion website.
Addendum: A few more pictures can be found here.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Lilli-Henoch-Sportplatz, Berlin-Kreuzberg, Germany
A birthday treat for myself as Mrs Extreme Groundhopping and I head for a short break in the capital of Germany. Here’s the first of several, I hope, stadium reports from the 2006 World Cup Final host city, starting with a small one (both ground and report) ...
A twenty minute walk to the south and west of Checkpoint Charlie, in what was once the Allied Sector of Berlin, is the Lilli-Henoch-Sportplatz, Kreuzberg. A modern facility with an artificial surface, floodlighting and space for 500 spectators (standing), it is used primarily (and here I welcome comments from anyone who knows any better) by BSV Al-Dersimspor who field a variety of teams ranging from juniors to seniors (over 40’s) and several women’s sides in the Berliner Fussball-Verband (Berlin Soccer Federation). BSV Al-Dersimspor sent a women’s side to Tehran for two friendlies against the Iranian National Women’s team in April last year, which coincided with the end of a ban preventing women from attending sporting events in the Islamic Republic.
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 RecordENGLAND
(Fitness First Stadium)
(Wicor Recreation Ground)
(King's Marsh Stadium)
(Alton (Bass) Sports Ground)
(Brantham Athletic Sports & Social Club)
Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton & Hove Albion
(New Writtle Street)
(Chelmsford Sport & Athletics Centre)
(Saunders Honda Stadium)
Dagenham & Redbridge
Debenham Leisure Centre
(Brewers Green Lane)
(Rush Green Bowl)
Felixstowe & Walton United
Great Yarmouth Town
(Wellesley Recreation Ground)
Harwich & Parkeston
Havant & Waterlooville
(West Leigh Park)
(Glass World Stadium)
(Five Heads Park)
(SEH Sports Ground )
(The New Den)
(National Hockey Stadium)
Netley Central Sports
(Station Road Recreation Ground)
(St James' Park)
(Cricket Field Road)
Preston North End
Queens Park Rangers
Saffron Walden Town
(Raymond McEnhill Stadium)
Soham Town Rangers
(Julius Martin Lane)
St Albans City
(New Farm Road)
(Green Meadows Stadium)
(Stadium of Light)
(White Hart Lane)
United Services Portsmouth
(Vosper Thornycroft Sports Ground)
Walsham Le Willows
(Walsham Sports Club Ground)
West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
(King George V Playing Field )
(Denplan City Ground)
(St. Georges Lane)
Heart of Midlothian
(North Sydney Oval)
SW Wacker Innsbruck
(Constant Vanden Stock Stadium)
1. FC Koeln
1. FC Union Berlin
(Stadion An der Alten Försterei)
(Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam)
(GN Bouw Stadion)
(Abe Lenstra Stadium)
(Willem II Stadion)
(Gamla Ullevi (Old))
(Comiskey Park I)
Tampa Bay Rowdies
(Tampa Bay Stadium)