Thursday, July 30, 2009
Shelbourne, Home Farm and Drumcondra
07-08-2001: Dublin City 0 Ipswich Town 5 (Friendly)
In August 2001 Ipswich travelled to Dublin for a pre-season friendly against the short-lived (1999-2006) and now defunct Dublin City. Formerly Home Farm Fingal, Dublin City played at various grounds including Tolka Park, Dalymount Park, Morton Stadium, Richmond Park and Whitehall Stadium. The game against Town eight years ago took place at Tolka Park, then and now the home of Shelbourne FC, which is located in Drumcondra, a suburb on the northern side of Ireland’s capital city.
Of the grounds in the area, and there are several, by far the most famous is Croke Park, the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association and principal venue of Ireland’s own unique sports of Gaelic football and hurling. On our walk out of the centre of Dublin to Tolka Park we passed the “Croke” (at the time very much under-construction) and a few words on the rather impressive stadium can be found here.
The aforementioned Tolka Park was originally the home of Drumcondra FC. The Drums became the first ever League of Ireland side to record an aggregate win in European Competition when they knocked Danish side B1909 out of the old Fairs Cup (later the UEFA Cup and now the Europa League) in 1962. They also tasted victory against Bayern Munich on home soil (a one-nil win) as well as enjoying what must have been some special European nights against, amongst others, Athletico Madrid and Eintract Frankfurt.
The club lost it’s league status in 1972 following a merger with Home Farm (you’d best read the Wikipedia article on Drumcondra for the full story on that) and pretty much went out of business, although the name does live on in the form of a Sunday team who play in the Leinster Senior League on park land adjacent to Tolka Park (see pics)
The 9,500 capacity Tolka Park became the permanent home of Shelbourne in 1989 and the club then set about redeveloping the ground into the Republic’s first all-seater stadium. The ground is made up of four distinct stands. The main stand (with club house, changing rooms, etc underneath) is a barrel-roofed affair and it was from here that we watched the Dublin City-Town game. Opposite is a partly covered stand, originally a terraced bank (I would guess) with the teams name picked out in its coloured seats, whilst the stand behind the southern goal is completely open to the elements. The newest of all the stands sits behind the northern goal - running just half the length of it’s touchline - which, built in the 1990’s is, like the main stand, fully covered. The club would like to relocate to a new ground – as yet various plans to do so have come to nothing – following extensive damage to Tolka Park and surrounds when the River Tolka (from which the ground takes it’s name) burst it’s banks, a year before our visit, in November 2000.
Home Farm FC
Formerly Home Farm Drumcondra (see above), Home Farm Fingal and Home Farm Everton, the one time League of Ireland side is now best known as a producer of fine quality young footballers (Liam Brady, Johnny Giles and Ipswich Town’s Owen Garvan amongst them). At the time of our visit the club were heavily sponsored by Leeds United who benefitted from this arrangement by having first dibs at any new talent that rolled off the Home Farm production line. With the Leeds deal long since expired Portsmouth have recently stepped into the breach. Home Farm’s neat Whitehill Ground is just a few minutes walk up the road from Tolka Park.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
A first for extreme groundhopping as cricket makes it's bow on these humble pages. Thanks to the Archivist's Assistant for this panorama taken during the second day's play of the second test between England and Australia earlier this month. The game ended in an historic win for England, as the home side, powered by some heroic bowling from Andrew Flintoff ended their 75-year-old Ashes jinx at Lord’s.
While yours truly has been to the home of the MCC many times in the past the last time was for a Championship match between Middlesex and Kent way back in 1983, and I can't recall having been to a game since. Weather permitting this will be recitied in a fortnights time when I head over to Northampton to watch the first days play between Northants and Kent.
Monday, July 27, 2009
25-07-2009: Bromley 1 Ebbsfleet United 0 (Friendly)
Hayes Lane (currently named the Courage Stadium) has been the home of Bromley FC since the late 1930’s. While the town of Bromley is well within the bounds of Greater London, the football ground has a distinctly rural feel to it surrounded as it is on all sides by paddocks, fields and, along one touchline the cricket pitch of Bromley Town CC. To emphasise this a horse was gambolling in the paddock next to the main turnstile block as my host for the weekend Bromley native SE20Blue (a Bromley & Ipswich Town fan of long standing) was parking the car.
There is a VIP car park directly behind the main stand, and behind one goal a more than ample public car park. When larger crowds are expected a second set of turnstiles are brought into use. These are accessible directly from the main car park, but so far they have seen action just once, that for the visit of AFC Wimbledon the year before last. Ground grading regulations insist on a certain number of turnstiles and this second block was built to meet the requirements of level 6 of the national pyramid (or Blue Square South as it is more commonly referred) when Bromley were promoted out of the Isthmian League two seasons ago.
Entering through the main turnstiles the main stand is on your right. At one time the ground boasted a 2,000 seater wooden stand but this was lost during a fire in 1992 and replaced by a brick and metal clad job that seats a rather more modest 320. In the last couple of years this has been extended to include a new bar and executive area (with a small viewing platform, under which is the club shop) and been renamed the John Fiorini stand. A portakabin style building sits between the stand and the turnstiles and houses the match day public bar.
Back to the entrance and on your left is the obligatory burger van, while directly in front is the match day programme vendors hut. Crystal Palace fan’s will almost certainly recognise the hut’s occupant. The “Walrus”, as he is affectionately known, has been performing a similar task outside Palace’s Selhurst Park for many many years.
The ground originally had earth banking on three sides but this has since been converted to concrete terracing. Most of it is open to the elements but there is a small amount of cover behind each goal. Behind the far goal seating has been installed in the form of wooden planks. This may all sound a bit archaic but it is all very pleasing to the eye and all in a state of excellent repair.
They say a picture paints a thousand word, so I'll leave my snaps to do exactly that.
More pictures here.
23-07-2009: FC Clacton 2 Ipswich Town Reserves 7
My second visit to FC Clacton's Rush Green Bowl (details of the first, two years ago, here), this time for the the visit of an Ipswich Town Reserve side for the Paul Hillier Testimonial.
More pictures here.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Panorama Mania 4!
Here’s another batch of stadium/ground panoramas for your amusement, three from the last couple of weeks (visits to Gorleston, FC Clacton and Bromley), three from Ipswich Town’s pre-season tour of Finland in 2001 (Tampere United, VPS Vaasa, and the Finnair Stadium, Helsinki) and one from a Town game in 2004 (FC Randers, Denmark).
The latter one’s have been created using Microsoft's Image Composite Editor (free to download) which has done a pretty decent job of stitching together my old snaps.
Many thanks to Mike at el Loco & el Lobo for the pointer.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
18-07-2001 Tampere United 2 Ipswich Town 4 (Friendly)
Summer in Finland is virtually three months of daylight so it was still relatively light by the time we’d returned to our hotel after the Tampere United-Town evening game. Half an hour later and the sky went pitch black, the heavens opened, and we witnessed the most incredible thunderstorm. The wind whipped up to into something called thunderstorm whirls (sort of tornado wanna-bees), causing a small crane on a nearby building site to thrash around like a spinning top. You could feel the increase in air pressure from the almost incessant thunderclaps while the lightning illuminated the area like a scene from a Hammer movie. Scary stuff.
Tampere, in southern Finland, is dubbed the "Manchester of Finland" as it was once the center of Finnish industry. That’s where any likeness ends. Surrounded by acres and acres of elk inhabited forest, and with two large lakes to the east and west, this is not Lancashire. It was once the home of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin who moved here in 1905 and at a Bolshevik conference held in the city met Joseph Stalin for the very first time. Consequently Tampere, amongst other attractions, boasts a Lenin Museum. An entirely separate concern is the nearby Moomin Museum. Those with kids may well be familiar with exploits of these furry troll-like characters.
The city hosted Finland’s very first ice hockey match and is home to the national Ice Hockey Museum, but football is by far and away the most popular sport. It’s main club is premier league side Tampere United, who despite having only been in existence since 1998 have still managed to rack-up three league titles (their first coming in 2001, the year of our visit).
United play at the 17,000-seater Ratina Stadium. Primarily a football stadium, although it does have an athletics track, it has covered stands behind each goal, a main stand along one flank and a lower covered stand on the opposite touchline. To the south of the city centre it is located in a primarily residential area with large apartment blocks on either side. Arriving quite early for the game we entertained ourselves at a nearby restaurant, until the gates opened and we were the able to avail ourselves of the numerous beer and food tents (we thought coke + pussi at 20 marks was a bit of bargain) set-up in one corner of the stadium. All quite civilised.
The pictures continue here.
Monday, July 13, 2009
11-07-2009 Gorleston 0 Ipswich Town Reserves 8 (Friendly)
A mile or so away from Great Yarmouth on the East Anglian coast, Gorleston-on-Sea is historically in the county of Suffolk, although for electoral and administrative convenience it became part of Norfolk in the late 19th century. In Edwardian times it was a major seaside resort, was at one time the centre of the herring fishing industry in the UK, and could boast three railway stations (although the last of these was closed in 1970), which is really quite some boast for a population of well under 6,000.
Hannah Spearritt of S Club 7 was born there, a fact I mention only because her uncle, Eddie Spearritt, played for Ipswich during the 1960’s, and the town’s beach is regularly awarded Blue Flag status for it’s a cleanliness. This I can certainly vouch for, arriving early and enjoying a walk along the beach before heading out to Emerald Park for the match.
Gorleston FC was founded in 1887 and were inaugural members of the Eastern Counties League (currently the Ridgeons League) in 1935. They have been champs on four occasions, most recently in the 1980-81 season, winners of the Norfolk Senior Cup fourteen times, and have reached the first round proper of the FA Cup twice. They were relegated from the Ridgeons Premier in 2005 and have remained in Division One since.
Emerald Park is a couple of miles to the south-west of the town centre and there is not a solitary road sign pointing you in it’s direction (follow signs for the crematorium if heading there youself). Nor is there anything at the entrance to the car park indicating the purpose of the bland looking metal clad structure that is actually the stand behind the eastern goal. Don’t be put off though. A friendly greeting awaits at the single turnstile in the back of this stand and a quite photogenic ground awaits once you’ve passed through it.
The ground has covered seating on three and a bit sides while the fourth side (on the southern touchline) contains a mixed bag of structures that are all very nicely maintain and painted in the clubs colours of green and white. These include the changing rooms, bar, tea bar, toilets and a handsome 10 seater stand with cushioned seating for, I guess, VIP’s and club officials. None of these facilities would have been stretched for today’s game which was attended by just 180 fan’s (including a smattering of Norwich City supporters who turned up, presumably, so that the Town supporters present could poke fun at them following their demotion to the nether regions of the Football League back in May) .
The game was, even more than expected, a hopelessly one sided affair with the visitors threatening to run up a cricket score in the first half hour. Six ahead at the break they could easily have hit double figures but for some wayward finishing in the closing stages of the second period. Not a classic match but as a day out a good one and a nice way to ease into the 2009-10 campaign.
The pictures continue here.
Friday, July 10, 2009
30-04-2004 Sheffield United 1 Ipswich Town 1
Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens (home of Glamorgan CCC) this week became the first venue to host an Ashes Test as its first match since 1902 when England and Australia played at Bramall Lane, now the home of Sheffield United. England lost on that occasion by a hefty margin and never played there again although the ground continued to be used for county cricket up until the early seventies.
Sheffield United Football Club had been formed three years earlier (by tenants Sheffield Cricket Club) specifically to make better use of Bramall Lane during the winter months (a distinction they share with Chelsea and Plymouth Argyle who were also formed to make use of an existing sports ground).
However, they were by no means the first side to play football at the Lane. In 1862 Sheffield FC (the worlds oldest football club) played a game there, Sheffield Wednesday played a few home games there around 1867, and in 1878 the Lane played host to the world’s first ever floodlit football match.
United joined the newly formed Division Two of the Football League in 1892, were promoted to Division One a year later, and won their one and only League Championship crown in 1898. A year later, and now FA Cup Winners too, their success enabled them to buy the ground from its previous owner the Duke of Norfolk. Around this time a possible ground share with Wednesday failed to materialise (Wednesday moving in to Hillsborough in 1899).
As the stadium began to take shape, famed Scots architect Archibald Leitch was commissioned to build the main John Street Stand on the west touchline - a separate development to the cricket pavilion behind the south goal - and a large banked Kop terrace was constructed at the north end of the ground. By the Thirties three sides of the ground were covered but the area beyond the eastern touchline remained grassed for use by the cricketing arm of the club.
Floodlights returned in 1955, this time permanently, a week before rivals Wednesday installed theirs, and by now it was quite clear that footballing arm wanted rid of the cricketers in order to develop the fourth side of the pitch and make viewing from the eastern touchline more practical for spectators.
From a cricket fan’s view point, apparently, Bramall Lane had little going for it: “There is not a tree to be seen, and, both sight and sound reflect encircling industry. The clatter of tramcars and the scream of a saw-mill and factory hooters make a back¬ground of noise to the cricket, and a brewery chimney periodically pours smoke and soot into the air”, wrote the joints authors of 'Homes of Sport' Norman Yardley and J. M. Kilburn in 1952.
With the Blades now enjoying a period of relative success in the Football League’s top-flight a new £750,000 cantilever stand was constructed along the open touchline (and over the wicket of the cricket pitch). It’s opening heralded a period of decline for United who, over the next six years, suffered three relegations and started the 1982-83 season in Division Four. Apt punishment perhaps for a football club that had put the knife into the cricket club that had first brought it into existence.
The Taylor report, a spell in the Premiership, and a number of other factors have all led to significant changes at Bramall Lane over the last thirty-years. The Leitch Stand is long gone, the Kop bank is now all-seater, corners have been in-filled, business centres opened and a hotel built. All of which can be read about in more detail at Wikipedia and the Internet Football Ground Guide.
The pictures continue here.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
04-03-2004 Pub Tour
Brentford’s Griffin Park ground, named after one time owners of the surrounding land the Griffin Brewery, is unique in English football (perhaps even in British football) with it’s boast of a pub at each of it’s four corners.
Approaching from the direction of Brentford railway station the first of the four is The Royal Oak (above).
Walk along the back of the Brook Road Stand (away fans) to the corner of Brook Road South and Braemar Road and you’ll find number two The Griffin (above).
The main entrance to Griffin Park is fifty yards or so to along Braemar Road. Follow this to the junction with Ealing Road and you’ll hit pub number three The Princess Royal (above)
Head north along Ealing Road, along the back of the home terrace and there’s the fourth and final hostelry The New Inn.
Here are pictures of all four interspersed with a few exterior shots of the football ground itself. Can’t claim to have been to all four but can vouch for The Griffin, a real London Boozer, which, if memory serves me correctly, serves a fine pint of Fuller’s London Pride.
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)