Saturday, September 29, 2007
Hull City 3 Ipswich Town 1
Kingston-upon-Hull gets short shrift a bit more often than it is rightly due in my humble opinion even being named as the worst place to live in the UK by the Channel 4 documentary “The Best and Worst Places to Live” back in 2005. It’s not than bad indeed I almost took a job there in the mid-90’s, opting in the end for a position in London, and now twelve years on I work for a company that ships gawd knows how many ten of thousands of containers through the Port of Hull each year. But that’s by the by.
Among the many noticeable assets the area can boast is the pretty awesome Humber Bridge. In fact my last football trip to Hull, way back in 1983 when the Tigers were still entrenched at Boothferry Park, was just a year or so after it was officially opened by HM the Queen. Apart from being a quite extraordinary feat of engineering (it’s centre span alone is 1.4 Km long) it’s sits, in my humble opinion, quite elegantly in it’s surrounds. Watch it here.
Another gem is the KC (Kingston Communication) Stadium, which opened in 2002 and that the footie club and Hull FC Rugby Club share. Two years ago a poll of some 3,000 fans to find England's best stadium put the £44 Million 25,000-capacity ground in top place based on comfort, facilities and view. Although in my opinion they skimped a bit on leg room.
A picture paints a thousand words, the saying goes, so rather than attempting to describe the KC’s interior with my own ramblings two panoramas that will do a much better job can be found here and here. The second one is not up to Extreme Groundhopping’s usually high standards (!) but I’ve put it online to show what I thought was a pretty neat roof line. Which it must be said was far more interesting than the game being played underneath it. The floodlighting is also rather unique consisting as it does of two pylons that rise like two large croquet hoops out of the eastern roof while the lighting from the western flank is built into the roof line.
Vital statistics: Admission 23 Pounds, match programme 3 pounds, attendance: 15,456.
Match Number: 1397
Sunday, September 23, 2007
No 5 (in a series of several): Sir Stanley Matthews (1915-2000)
Sir Stanley Matthews certainly needs no introduction from me. This statue outside Stoke City’s Britannia Stadium was erected in memory of the former Stoke, Blackpool and England legend in October 2001 and a fine work it is too. The rightmost figure shows Sir Stanley in the 1930’s, the middle figure captures him playing for England in the 1950’s, while the leftmost statue shows him as he reached the end of his career in 1965 (an incredible thirty-one years after his international debut). The three statues are all to scale and every detail of the strip, boots and balls is authentic. The picture was taken prior to the Stoke v Ipswich Championship game on Monday January 2nd, 2006.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Ipswich Town 4 Coventry City 1
Town continued their excellent start to the season - recording a third consecutive home win and the second by a 4-1 margin - in a game with a late afternoon kick-off for the benefit of Sky TV. Pablo Counago netted twice, and Jason De Vos and Jon Walters scored one a peice, while Stephen Hughes hit a late consolation for Iain Dowie's Sky Blues.
Vital statistics: Admission by Season Ticket, programme three pounds, attendance 18,840.
Match Number: 1396
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Not far from Stanway Rover’s Hawthorn Ground is a late Iron Age/early Roman burial site which was excavated, between 1987 and 1997, on what is now a sand and gravel quarry. The most recent graves found were dated at around AD 60 suggesting that it was a burial place for prominent locals from and around the Roman’s first British settlement, Colchester, or Colonia Claudia Victricensis as it was catch-ingly known at the time.
Significant dates in Stanway Rover’s history are somewhat more recent. Re-formed in 1956 they moved to their current home on New Farm Road twenty-three years later in 1979, joined the Eastern Counties league (then the Jewson League and now the Ridgeons) in 1992, and, at the fourteenth attempt, won the Ridgeons First Division title in 2006 for a place at the top table. All quite unremarkable, as is their Hawthorns Ground (the irony of the clubs colours of Gold and Black may not be lost on any West Brom fan’s that may stumble across this blog. Speaking of which I do think MOTD2, hosted by Baggies fan Adrian Chiles, is infinitely superior to MOTD with Lineker and his crones. How about you?)
With average attendances barely topping the fifty mark you would have thought the club officials would do anything to attract more fans or at least treat those that do show up with a modicum of courtesy. Well unfortunately that was not the way your humble reporter was treated by a suited jobsworth this afternoon. No doubt released on his own recognisance from nearby Colchester Zoo for the day.
The official took great offence to me taking pictures of the entrance to the ground, yes, snaps of the spectator entrance, suggesting that I was some sort of national security threat. He really did take some persuading before accepting that I wasn’t a member of an Al-Qaeda cell planning an outrage in Stanway that very afternoon.
Vital statistics: Admission 5 pounds, match programme 1 pound, pre-match cuppa 50 pence, attendance 66.
Match Number: 1395
Friday, September 14, 2007
Revisited: Derby County (Baseball Ground)
January 19th, 2002
The Baseball Ground was Derby County’s home from 1895 until they moved across town to Pride Park in 1997. For the next six years until it’s demolition in 2003-04 the ground continued to be used for Rams reserves and youth games and it was for one of the later that Junior and I bid farewell to this venerable old ground in a midday fixture between Derby and Newcastle (en route to a Premier League fixture between the Rams and Ipswich at Pride Park later that day).
With a capacity of 42,000 the stadium was, as the names suggests, first used for baseball and the original tenants, Derby County Baseball Club, where the first champions of National Baseball League of Great Britain and Ireland in 1890. By the time it hosted it's last senior Ram’s game the capacity had been reduced to just over 18,000. Probably it’s finest era if not hour was the 1970’s when, with Brian Clough at the helm, Derby won the league title in 1971-72 and 1974-75.
Behind each goal were cantilevered stands whose lower terraces didn’t quite line-up with the goal-lines giving the ground an odd wedge shape appearance. This was not a ground that offered the best of views. I once stood behind one of the goals with an old flame who was unable to see a single minute of match action due to a large crowd (well Ipswich were the visitors of course) and the poor rake of the terracing (the fact that she was only 5’ 4” didn’t help either it must be said).
A few more pictures can be found here.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Ipswich Town Reserves 5 Southend United Reserves 4
Pontins Football Combination League
A see-sawing thriller that went something like this:
1-0 (Sylvain Legwinski 5')
Vital statistics: Admission by Season Ticket, no programme but team sheet free, attendance 415.
Match Number: 1394
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Tiptree United enjoyed their finest hour in the FA Vase in the 2001-02 season when they reached the final of the competition, a remarkable feat for a village side. En route to the final at Villa Park they KO’d holders Taunton, Pickering, Burgess Hill and fellow Eastern Counties league side AFC Sudbury before a final showdown against Whitley Bay.
A single goal in extra time ended the “Jam Makers” dreams of a major bit of silverware but they do retain the distinction of being one of just a few sides to have entered the competition every year since its inception back in 1974-75.
Simple Pieman and Harry Hotspur visited Tiptree’s Chapel Road just a few weeks ago - if you’re wondering why a few of the pictures look a bit familiar - and by pure coincidence I would have joined them had it not been for a bit of a delay in an internal decorating project at Chez Extremegroundhopping. However, today’s visit to the Essex club made up for that minor disappointment.
I didn’t take up their recommendation of a visit to the Jam Museum, despite it being free, choosing instead to stroll through the village, in the glorious sunshine, to the Tiptree Windmill for a few pictures. Minus its sails the red brick tower is now a private residence. Overall Tiptree is a pleasant although unremarkable village, so back to the footie…
Tiptree have got off to a bit of flyer in Division One of the Ridgeon’s League and at the time of writing top the division after five games. They have also made it through the extra preliminary and preliminary rounds of the FA Cup for a 1st Qualifying Round tie against Brentwood Town two weeks time. A largish crowd should be on hand for that game when they host the Ryman League side from twenty miles down the A12.
Just 69 where on hand for today’s game, a shame as there were some real gems in amongst the seven goals which started hitting the back of the net with some regularity after former Colchester United midfielder Tom English put the home side ahead after 20 minutes.
Three-up at the break Tiptree showed no signs of letting up with a further three goals in the second. The best of the seven, however, came almost on the stroke of full-time when Lewis Haycock hit a cracking shot from outside the area for a consolation for Northamptonshire’s Sileby Rangers.
Vital statistics: Admission 5 pounds, match programme 1 pound, pre-match cuppa 70 pence, attendance 69.
Match Number: 1393
Saturday, September 01, 2007
Having not ventured into this part of Cambridgeshire for a good number of years (the Extremegroundhopping sprogs were still in nappies at the time) I’d forgotten what a picturesque place Ely is. Dominated by it’s Cathedral (one of the “Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages” and the “Ship of the Fens” it says on Wikipedia), the market town has some wonderful winding and photogenic streets and a pleasant marina, sitting as it does on the banks of River Great Ouse.
Quite some way out of the city centre, on the A10 towards Downham Market, sits the Unwin Ground, home to Ely City since 1986. The evocatively named Paradise Ground was their previous home for some ninety years, the club itself dating back to 1885 when it was formed by members of the Ely St.Etheldreda Football and Cricket Club.
Cambridgeshire’s oldest senior club joined the Eastern Counties (Ridgeons) League in 1960, were league runners-up in 1970, Division One Champions in 1997, and after conceding a whopping 111 goals in the 2002-03 Premier Division campaign have played the last few years back in the league’s second-flight.
The main stand, the “Roger Pauley” stand (see programme cover for picture) has seating for several hundred and offers a very good view of the action as well as the Cathedral off in the distance. It is flanked on either side by two low-level covered standing areas.
Behind the right hand one stands the club house, which on this (rare) sunny afternoon was doing a pretty brisk trade in cold beverages. It shares the surrounding area with the local rugby, squash and tennis clubs as well as a golf driving range all of which were doing a far bit of business as the locals took advantage of the closing days of the summer holidays.
By the way, today’s FA Cup opposition Boston Town hail from the United Counties League Premier Division and their Tattershall Road ground was the subject of a non-match day visit by yours truly last year.
Vital statistics: Admission 4 pounds, match programme 50 pence, attendance 166.
Match Number: 1392
Ipswich Town Academy
Ipswich Town 1 Leicester City 1
Granted academy status during the summer of 1998, the ITFC youth set-up has, at any one time, around twenty full-time apprentices, who play in the U18 and reserve sides, and one hundred or more schoolboys between the ages of 9 and 16 who play at U-16 level and down.
The various academy teams share the £2Million Playford Road facilities with the seniors and reserves, and a pretty impressive set-up it is too. There's eleven full size pitches, an indoor dome with a field turf playing surface, 14 changing-rooms with showers, a fully equipped gym, and an array of classrooms, treatment rooms and kitchens that must be the envy of many Premiership sides.
Vital statistics: Admission free, no programme but team sheet is free, attendance around 100, breakfast sandwich 3 pounds 80 pence (superb!)
Match Number: 1391
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)