Monday, March 24, 2008
Cornard United 2 Long Melford 0
Ridgeons League Division One
Cornard United boast the best drainage of any club in the Ridgeons League and a small reward for this was today’s bumper crowd of 249 for the local derby with Long Melford.
Like your humble writer there were a good number at the game who had planned to be at another (the diabolically crap Easter weather calling a halt to many local games on Saturday and again today) my plans having originally called for a trip to Maldon Town of the Ryman League North.
Cornard United’s Blackhouse Lane ground is on the southern edge of Great Cornard, once a small village adjacent to the better known Suffolk town of Sudbury (were yours truly received his final years of schooling).
Cornard became a designated London overspill area in the 50’s and 60’s as part of the County of London Plan and with further home building in recent years now threatens to dwarf it’s (shall we say) more elegant neighbour. But Cornard United’s ground retains a rural feel.
The village’s senior side is adjacent to the facilities of the Cornard Dynamos Youth Football Club, with both clubs sharing more than ample parking facilities.
Incidentally my brother and I – as players for another local youth side – enjoyed a few tussles with the Dynamos in our youth, but more of that perhaps in a later post.
There’s a decent club house (plugged in the very readable match programme as the best in the area) with covered standing between it and the home and away dugouts on the near touchline.
On the far touchline is a small concrete stand with capacity for a hundred or so spectators, behind which excavation work is on the go for a new rugby pitch and facilities for the oval ball brigade.
Billed as the Division One wooden spoon game, the home side eased concerns of finishing the season with this unwanted addition to the trophy cabinet with a comfortable two-nil victory – only there third league success of the term.
Vital statistics: Admission 4 pounds, programme 1 pound, cup of tea 50 pence, attendance 249.
Match Number: 1426
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Scunthorpe United 1 Ipswich Town 2
When Town’s fixture list was published back in June or July of last year one of the first games I looked for was today’s clash at Glanford Park, simply because it was the only side in the division whose ground I had yet to visit (OK, strictly speaking Hull’s KC Stadium was another but I had previously seen the Tigers play at their old Boothferry Park ground). Most Ipswich supporters at today’s game would be making their first visit there too as Town had previously played at Glanford Park on just two occasions, both friendlies, since it became, in 1988, the first new ground to be built in England since the end of World War Two.
Accompanied by Extreme Groundhopping Junior, who had kindly treated me to the return train fare from Ipswich to Scunthorpe as an early birthday present, off we set from Ipswich, changing first at Peterborough and then at Doncaster, to the North Lincolnshire town arriving in plenty of time for lunch, a look around the town centre (five minutes is more than sufficient for this) and then out along the Doncaster Road to Glanford Park, a route that takes you past United’s former ground.
Before moving to their current home the Iron had played at the Old Showground on Doncaster Road, since 1867, which in addition to having the country’s first cantilever stand (opened in 1958) boasted a capacity of 24,000. Part of the deal that saw the move out to Glanford Park was the sale of the site to Safeway for redevelopment as a supermarket, which has changed hands a number of times before becoming a Sainsbury’s in 2004 (see picture). A plaque by the main entrance is now the only reminder of the site’s former tenants.
Opposite Sainsbury’s is Baths Hall (also pictured). Originally constructed in the 1930’s - as the name suggests - as a public bath house, the building was converted for use as a music venue in the 1970’s and was regularly frequented by the late and great John Peel and has hosted many well known bands including two of my all-time favourites The Damned and The Kinks. Having been saved from the bulldozers by the current Labour Council the hall is currently closed awaiting a major refurbishment.
A further mile-and-a-half along Doncaster Road, Glanford Park sits next to a slew of retail outlets, a Tesco’s and a gardening centre. Known locally - but not entirely with love and affection by a number of home fans that we spoke to - as the Biscuit Tin, the ground is totally enclosed by four low level single tiered stands. Three of the these are all-seated: The Scunthorpe Telegraph Stand on the west touchline houses the changing rooms, club offices and executive boxes, opposite that is the Grove Wharf Stand and behind the southern goal is the away end or AMS Stand.
The AMS Stand holds 1,600 visiting fans and despite Town’s appalling away form over the past year-and-a-half appeared, remarkably, to be full from were we were seated (at the very back of the stand in row M). The fourth and remaining stand is the Study United FC Stand (or the Donny Road End as it is still more popularly known) which is terraced giving Glanford Park a total capacity of 9,088. Apart from a number of annoyingly positioned supporting pillars for the roof, and the fact that the whole place could do with a lick of paint, this is not a bad little ground, a panoramic view of which can be found here.
The match was a notable one for a number of reasons in addition to being only the third away victory all season for the Tractorati. Scunthorpe’s Ian Baraclough, was making his 700th career appearance. The defender, who signed for the Iron in 2004, has played for seven other clubs in a career that has spanned three decades. Town’s Pablo Counago netted Town’s opening goal in the first half before picking up the third red card of his Ipswich career for a spat of handbag’s at twenty paces with Jack Cork in the second. Fellow Spaniard Castro Sito, who prior to today’s game had yet to score for the Blue’s, went on a mazy run through the home defence in the 71st minute to net a superb goal a goal that proved to be the winner after Ben May netted a late consolation for the home side almost on full time.
Scunthorpe, making their first appearance in the second tier of English football for the first time in forty-three years, have the look of a doomed side (six points from safety at the time of writing) and will sadly be returning to League One after just a season in the Championship.
Vital statistics: Train Fare 43 pounds, All-Day Breakfast in Scunny 3 pounds 60 pence (magic), Admission 18 pounds, match programme 3 pounds, attendance 6,636.
Match Number: 1425
Monday, March 17, 2008
Ipswich Town Reserves 5 Colchester United Reserves 0
Vital statistics: Admission by season ticket, free team sheet, attendance 230+/-
Match Number: 1424
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Ipswich Town 2 Charlton Athletic 0
Vital statistics: Admission by season ticket, match programme 3 pounds, attendance 23,539.
Match Number: 1423
Friday, March 14, 2008
Revisited: Widzew Lodz
Wednesday, December 10th, 1980
I have been most fortunate to have watched the Town in European action, both home and away, on many occasions during the seventies and early eighties. All of the away trips were memorable in one way or the other but the most memorable of them all was the trip to Poland for the UEFA Cup 3rd Round, 2nd Leg tie with Widzew Lodz in December of 1980.
At the time the country was in the middle of political upheaval, with Dock Strikes and other industrial actions being taken by the newly formed Solidarity movement under the guidance of Lech Walesa. In fact at the time we travelled the Russians were threatening to move in the tanks and troops in a style reminiscent of that that crushed similar civil disturbances in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the 50's and 60's.
The Foreign Office were actually advising people against travelling to Poland at all. But that wasn't going to stop myself and around 40 other town fans from seeing the Boy's in Blue in action. (My Mum was a tad upset mind!)
We flew with the Team from Stansted Airport on a splendidly appointed LOT airlines charter plane. Things were already beginning to have a tint of the surreal whilst we waited to board with the disturbing site of Eric Gates trying his utmost to show Kevin O'Callaghan how to play Space Invaders in the departure lounge!
The outward flight was rather unremarkable; although it was a bit off that the players had the smoking section of the aircraft.
The fun started when we arrived at Warsaw Airport. Hundreds of Polish football fans were there to great us, and convinced that the Town fans were either part of the official party or members of the team, began a mad scramble for autographs. I must confess to having pretended to be Allan Hunter (well we were of a similar height) and duly signed a slew of autograph books to that effect.
The journey from Warsaw to the mining Town of Lodz proved to be rather hazardous as the roads were covered with a thick layer of packed ice. Indeed, Trevor Kirton, Towns kit manager at the time, twice left the road in the van he was travelling in and managed to dislocate and un-dislocate his shoulder, respectively, in the two incidents.
Our hotel was a site to behold I can tell you and a special feature of the hotel room I shared with two other Town fans was the hole in the bathroom floor that allowed you to view the ablutions of those occupying the room below.
The highlight of the first evening was a local "night club" that we managed to locate. The entertainment was provided by two musicians -- an electronic keyboard player and a saxophonist. And so popular were they that the only other clients in the place were three gentlemen in long grey coats and sable hats, with hammer and sickle insignia, sipping lemonade at an adjacent table. KGB?
In the afternoon, on the day of the match, we were then very kindly taken on a tour of the stadium, actually the home of LKS, Widzew's rivals in the City. This gave us a chance to inspect the pitch afterwards and what an absolute joke it was. The playing surface resembled an ice rink with a layer of snow thrown in for good measure. How UEFA gave the go ahead for the game to be played is anyone's guess and the fact that the player's from either side escaped serious injury is down to pure luck.
Back to the Hotel bar for a few beers or so we thought. The place was absolutely packed with afternoon drinkers, and the general buzz of the place was bought to a silence every 10 minutes or so when one patron after another hit the floor after consuming more than his or her daily intake of Vodka. Of course we had to help them out!
When our bus arrived at the Stadium for the game we were greeted by the Widzew fans in a similar manner as we had been at Warsaw airport the day before, and I again pretended to be Allan Hunter autograph-wise.
More amusement followed when a friend of mine, convinced that he could make a killing in the programme collectors market back home, made for the first available programme vendor and relieved him of his entire stock of 200 copies (incidentally he still has 50 or so available to this day).
More Vodka was to follow when we took our place on the terracing. I met up with a guy from Yugoslavia who was studying at the Lodz University. He was carrying two one-litre bottles of the Polish elixir, which we duly consumed in an improbably short period of time.
I cannot possibly comment on the game itself (other than to say that the pitch seemed to have worsened since earlier in the day, and the temperatures had plummeted to 15 degrees below zero) as it is all a complete blur. Although apparently we lost 1-0 to go through to the next round 5-1 on aggregate. The last thing I can specifically remember is the teams entering the field. The Town players bizarrely dressed in woollen leggings, gloves and bobbles hats. Their arrival was a signal for the home crowd to start pelting the machine gun toting guards around the perimeter of the pitch with snowballs, blocks of ice and other projectiles.
The return journey to Warsaw after the match is equally a blur although I would like to offer belated apologies to the owners of the Polish Bus Company for having decorated the inside rear of the bus with a techni-coloured yawn. Also a delayed apology to the various armed guards at the airport with whom I collided with in my attempts to stagger to the check-in desk.
And dear readers the story does not end there. At the time, Poland, as well as the other Soviet Bloc states, had strict controls over their currency and you were not allowed to take either notes or coins from the country. Anyway, being a collector of foreign bank notes I decided to discrete a 50 Zloty note about my personage and make off with it. When I got home I could not for the life of me find it anywhere !.
Two years later, when I was playing at being an ex-pat and living in the US, I went off to see my adopted (but sadly now defunct) Chicago Sting play a home game in the Major Indoor Soccer League. I arrived at the Stadium and hunted through my jacket pockets (a garment that I had only just recently purchased) for my season ticket and low and behold there was the 50 Zloty note! Strange but true.
More pictures here.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Wivenhoe Town 0 Ilford 0
Ryman League Division One North
Wivenhoe, just a few miles to the south east of Colchester, sits rather picturesquely on the north bank of the River Colne. One guide says the town has a bohemian quality to it which is why it attracts many students from the nearby University of Essex campus, or may be the town’s seven pubs have something to do with it.
With a history steeped in stories of fishing, ship building and smuggling and with it’s quaint streets, waterfront and distinctive Saxon Church it’s all rather pleasant and a very nice place to stop off at before the main attraction of the afternoon – a visit to Wivenhoe Town FC’s Broad Lane ground a mile or so out of town toward the A133 (the main drag from Colchester to Clacton).
Visitors to Broad Lane have had a much warmer welcome this season than the club had perhaps planned. It wasn’t until October that they picked up their first home point and they had to wait until the New Year had turned before registering their first home win. With twenty-four defeats in thirty-one league outings things don’t look to good for “The Dragons”.
Ilford, today’s visitors are the only side lower in the table, but despite their lowly positions both sides made a go of things over the ninety-minutes and with a bit more luck may have found the net, settling in the end for a goalless draw. But not to worry there’s plenty more to report on.
Sadly this has fallen into such a state of disrepair that it is no longer available for use by spectators. In fact all of the plastic seats have been removed and the stand is taped off like a crime scene on match days.
Then, following promotion to the Premier Division in 1990 work began on an ambitious project to build a 500-seater stand on the opposite touchline. With just a third of the stand complete the money ran out and that was that.
But Broad Lane can proudly lay claim to having the countries widest covered terrace. Located behind the goal at the far end of the ground from the clubhouse and main turnstile block it’s two ends extending beyond the playing area on either touchline.
Vital statistics: Admission 6 pounds, programme 1 pound, attendance 110.
Match Number: 1422
And lastly another of those moving image things...
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Ipswich Town 1 Sheffield United 1
Vital statistics: Admission by season ticket, match programme 3 pounds, attendance 20,190.
Match Number: 1421
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Thetford Town 1 Fakenham Town 3
Ridgeons League Division One
My first visit to Thetford Town’s Mundford Road ground was many many years ago to watch our works side take on their counterparts from Belgium. The occasion was considered important enough for the mayors of the respective Town’s to attend. After the game the home players were being taken back to the factory by coach and as the vehicle left the ground those sitting on the back seat decided it would be a bit of a hoot to moon the party of VIP’s that were standing by the exit waving them off. They were not amused. As a result plans to play a return game were, I believe, cancelled and the players responsible severely reprimanded.
Thetford and it’s surrounding forest were used for many of the external scenes in the classic 60’s and 70’s BBC comedy Dad's Army but it’s biggest claim to fame is as the birth place of one of the founding father’s of the United States of America, one Thomas Payne an eighteenth century free thinker, writer and revolutionary. An advocate for independence from Britain he emigrated to America and became actively involved in the War of Independence. Not content with the creation of one Republic some twenty or more years later he was also an activist during the French Revolution too. A statue of Payne stands at the edge of the town’s pedestrianised shopping area.
Back to the ground…
Bordered on three sides by playing fields the perimeter of the ground is ringed by a not particular attractive, but nonetheless I’m sure quite secure, metal fence. Thetford has a bit or rep for vandalism and spontaneous violence and so it’s best to keep everything locked down if you can. On the fourth side is the entrance to the ground, car park and an elderly but comfortable grandstand.
Many pitches slope from one end to the other but Mundford Road breaks with that tradition and slopes quite noticeably from the far touchline (where newly constructed dugouts sit) down to the grandstand. There is a small covered terrace (capacity no more than twenty) to the right - at the back of which is a tea and burger bar - and another small but uncovered terrace to the left. Under the grandstand are bar, kitchen and changing rooms.
Simple Pieman visited Mundford Road in April last year and his blog entry includes a picture of the old dugouts that used to sit in front of the stand. As he rightly guesses these have been replaced by spanking new brick ones on the far side. John Stoneman of GroundBlogger was also here last year, a month before the Pieman, and David Bauckman of Pyramid Passion back in 2004. The later has two pictures, in his entry for Thetford Town FC, of the remains of what was once a covered terrace on the far touchline, although this is now long gone.
And following on from the huge success of last weeks video clip from Bury Town, here, courtesy of You Tube, is Mundford Road in moving pictures…
Vital statistics: Admission 4 pounds, programme free, attendance 32.
Match Number: 1420
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)