After a month without a new ground, the chance came for me to get back on the train.
After going to celtic, southampton (was supposed to be dunfermline v inverness) and eastleigh, i had a final soiree if you like booked to go to glasgow again.
The reasoning being i would watch a game of some standard on the saturday and then head up to my relatives in perth before waking up sunday morning and spending lunchtime in dundee watching inverness. I booked the train journey back in december after the spl had re arranged dundee utd v caley for the sunday 12 pm from saturday 3pm for espn viewing. They then decided to change this again halfway through january to a monday night 7.45 game meaning i couldnt go and more importantly fuck all caley fans could either, which just sums up the scottish premier league and largely neil doncaster aka money grabbing bastard.
So in the end today i used my advance ticket heading for glasgow but got off at wigan north western, i left euston at 8.30 and arrived just less tham two hours later in the lancashire town, not bad!
I went for a wonder around the rather sadly run down town of wigan, i had been up since 4am so went to the wetherspoons for breakfast and ale, i had a pint of allgates - ukel-ale (clever). I had envisaged having more of a walk around then ending up at the camra wigan 25th annual beerfest opposite the dw stadiumb ut i stumbled upon a cracking pub called the anvil round the back of the church, they had 4 more different drops of allgates - i tried ostrana and pretoria and 3 different belgium draughts and more lancashire darker drops, but the time id had two more lovely pints of sunset the bar had filled up and it was half time in the midday premshite match, so off i toodled to the ground.
It absolutely pissed down on my way there and so instead of walking around the ground and surroundings i went straight and smashed down a meat and potato pie.
The game was forgettable , martinez had left out rodallega, moses and diame leaving them utterly clueless and swansea grabbed a goal with the last kick in the 47th minute of the first half.
I got told off for having my music too loud by a gentlemen 3 seats away from me so quiet was the stadium, sigurddson scored another blinder in the second half which totally killed wigan off, then martinez put diame rodallega and moses on. Tactical genius.
A great day out, you certainly get more for your money up north
English premier league
Wigan athletic 0-2 swansea city
Adm 20, att 19’004
Parkhead/celtic park/ or ‘paradise’, as those who are that way inclined call it, was my destination this weekend.
I was off to watch my team inverness for the sixth time this season and although not a new ground per se, I hadn’t watched caley at celtic so with 17 quid return train tickets picked up and headed up north on the 0613 train from eastleigh.
I slept all the way into waterloo and thanks to the lack of engineering works on the underground was on the 0830 euston to glasgow service. The portsmouth and qpr fans (getting off at preston to go to blackpool and blackburn respectively) kept me awake for most of the 4 and a half hour journey.
After travelling through the really snowed under peak district I was really pleased to see the lack of snow after the borders region, an arrived at glasgow for one o clock.
Straight on the next train to motherwell from the lower level station of glasgow central, and after alighting at dalmarnock station was in the london road tavern (a massive celtic/irish haunt) by 13.45 where I met up with a few caley fans. I had one but being tired and hungry headed back out into the fresh air and into the ground.
I had heard bad stories about the stewards at celtic but I had no problems at all, no checks on the way in and was able to stand wherever I wanted even after they had looked at my ticket..
I put the stadium in my top 3 when I went there nearly 9 months ago. The atmosphere is brilliant it blows your mind, you might not like the songs they sing but can’t argue with the passion shown. The away fans however stand next to the old stand and have a massive stanchon in the way (you can buy cheaper restricted view tickets in this case), and the megatron screens make up for it anyway I think.
Its the biggest stadium in scotland which is strange seeing how much they don’t want to be part of the countries football league.
Caley played exceptionally well today and it made it all the worth while, only losing 1 nil to celtic is not great shame.
Of course the fact that celtic had a man sent off at home (how dare they!?) Meant that it was all a conspiracy and the sfa was to off.
A quick getaway back to dalmarnock and 10 minutes ahead of time for the 1740 back to london, this time with quiet qpr, portsmouth and , getting on at crewe - chelsea fans. Back home by half 1
Scottish premier league
Celtic 1-0 inverness
Adm 26 prog 3 att 50,014
So after the karlsruhe game it was up north west to kaiserslautern for the game of the weekend (or so we thought)
After navigating an easy exit onto the autobahn we soon turned off onto one the best roads I’ve ever witnessed, firstly tunneling under and through the valleys and then most definitely through the valleys and woods in a snake like fashion, quite a tight road but was safely navigated by chris.
We arrived into kaiserslautern by 4.30 for a half 5 kick off, such is the efficiency that we parked at the university park and ride and was at the ground within 10 minutes.
It didn’t feel partcularly cold at this point but once inside and up 8 flights of steps near to the top, we soon became a bit chillier, and the pitch was in a bad way with actual ice laying dormant on the field.
The game didt help much either, an absolute diabolical game which was disapointing and other than a red card for the homesters and the inevitable one goal for koln there wasn’t much else to write about.
We stayed the night in karlsruhe and went out for the evening to the vogel bier brewhaus, the beer was excellent and cheap at around £2.50 a pint, the food was also to die for and the warmth was even better.
A fairly relaxed morning saw us checkout and find a prominent parking position by the wildparkstadion on the ring road in karlsruhe itself. We parked so as to face away from the ground so we could shoot straight off for our next game.
We had however arrived 3 hours before kick off and with it being minus 14 at half 8 in the morning we got our tickets and programmes and headed back to the car.
On entering the ground, as with all german grounds you get frisked, he wasn’t too happy that I had a pot of vaseline in my coat so made me throw it away. Hilarious.
We took a walk around the back of the main stand and found the fanhaus, more warmth, skysports, good atmosphere and good food.
the game was to be bottom (18th ) v 14th, and the visitors, enzegebirge aue had travelled 445km for this half 1 kick off so I wasn’t expecting many away fans. Of course I was wrong and they brought a good 300 all tucked away in the sunshine on the terraces
The stadium was fantastic, 30,000 capacity but only over a third full and still a great atmosphere was made.
Aue went one up and with their fans being behind the other goal and behind the athletics track, there was a funny delay and it stunned the home ultras into silence - for a second or two.
Karlsruhe did eventually pull it back, a bit like yesterdays game and the crowd erupted knowing the their team vitally needed the points, and even the prawn sandwich (ok schnitzel) brigade in main stand stirred up some noise.
We chose to move around the corner of the same end and so to be in the sunshine, thus taking the temperature up to around minus 6.
The homesters came out fired up and took only 10 minutes to grab the winner, but out of mine and chris’ sight their striker delron buckley then got a straight red less than 60 seconds later.
It didn’t change much and karlsruhe were more dominant in these heatwave conditions.
A fantastic place, the ground is from a sadly by gone era, and the fans are as proud of their team as any other.
I had had this trip booked for a few months after bumping into a hopping buddy at a welsh premier league game, as you do.
Due to the location of our trip i chose to fly to frankfurt on the friday and spent the day keeping warm by walking around the rather generic city.
Saturday saw me link up with chris back at the airport, where we picked up our hire car. After working out how to actually turn the bloody thing on, we then realised that we had no sat nav but finally we where on our way. Chris had never driven in germany before and with me being a shit co driver needless to say it was an eventful journey.
We arrived at the town of sinsheim before and parked at the ground, the club has risen from obscurity and crowds of less than a thousand and bundesliga stardom and the village of hoffenheim only holds 3,000 people itself.
The town of sinsheim isnt much bigger and so much of the fans have appeared from nowhere and needless to say all other teams that play hoffenheim usually come bearing the sheiss Hoffenheim song.
After meandering around the town for a while, basically to keep ourselves warm, we got into the ground just before half two.
The ground is another standard new build with a bit of character and was a good ground to get in.
The game was supposed to be a homebanker with augsburg propping up the table, but spurred on by their noisy supporters they went a goal ahead when finally hoffenheims poor defensive skills were punctured.
Hoffenheim got back in the game and scored towards the end of the half when the striker looped the ball over the goalie and let the augsburg players do the rest by simply running into eachother and in turn run into the ball.
By half time the sun had gone out of our view and suddenly you really did feel the cold, so we headed to the top and made a rough estimate that it was around minus 10, some people did head home at half time due to the cold but we found it easier just to jump around to keep warm.
Hoffenheim went 2-1 up early in the second half via a penalty however augsburg did not give up and equalised in good fashion via a header.
When we got back to our car which was in the sun still it read -7 so we guessed our temperature estimation inside the stadium was pretty correct, needless to say the heater was on maximum for the full journey to karlsruhe for the night
Tsg 1899 Hoffenheim 2-2 augsburg
Adm €26 prog €1.50 att 22500
Having watched a lacklustre performance by eastleigh at basingstoke the previous saturday it was time for me to take in a new ground again, for 6 pounds extra than conference south i watched millwall v southampton in the fa cup 4th round.
The research had been done and originally we were gonna park in bermondsey around a 10 minute walk from the ground, however with another person joining the fold late on we somehow ended up on southampton central platform come 11.30 am.
An awkward journey having change at woking then clapham (where we saw the lovely lucy pinder) then changing yet again at battersea park before finally getting to south bermondsey by 13.30.
As you exit the station on a matchday there is police everywhere, there is a separate caged/ fenced walk for visiting supporters (not that the police cared to check if you were or not - laziness!) and so we headed swiftly to the ground. We had the nerve to then walk out the away area and out into the home areas of zampa road, which is obviously not like it used to be however is it still a fortress and somehow you just know that everyone knows your not from here!
Back to the ground after a 20 minute adrenaline rush and into the ground to be meeted by no toilets having the facility to be flushed and 2 of the 8 food stalls shut!! Typical football league antogonising bollocks.
When we did get a beer we bought two at a time and somehow its still a shock not to recieve much change from a tenner.
Into the stands themselves and the saints fans had packed the upper tier up and were feeling very confident, the team didnt play well at all but was superb to see aaron martin have such a good game!
Saints did eventually go ahead which really riled the home fans into action, and to be fair when they did get into gear they can still make an atmosphere even in a low crowd as todays 8,000.
Millwall equalised in the final minutes and when the tannoy told us we were due for a 45 minute wait for the train you just knew we had experienced a millwall away day. Cest la vie
Photos up when i can be asked!
Fa cup 4th round
Millwall 1-1 southampton
Adm £18 att 8,227
a saturday off for the eastleigh boys meant a free saturday for me to do yet another ground, after catching up with my mate luke at the team solent game the night before, we both picked out some games and ended up heading to top of the table enfield town, playing in the ryman north league.
enfield town, a fan owned club, are finally back home, having been shafted previously by owners and the like they were a bit nomadic and i watched them last season playing at brimsdown rovers ground in an fa cup game versus worthing.
but now they are back on their feet, at their home ground since november and doing very well on and off the field.
i met up with luke after a long train journey for once, from eastleigh to waterloo, due to engineering works i went from eastleigh to woking but then it went off kilter adding an extra 45 minutes by going to chertsey, staines, twickenham and then back into clapham, fantastic!
finally got to the spoons at liverpool st station, full of spurs, wolves, leeds, palace fans all mingling.
we got on the 1300 to enfield which was full of spurs fans nattering on, but went fast enough, we had time to have the best kebab ive ever had outside of enfield town station and from there we walked north and through the terraced houses, eventually finding a public walkway to the ground.
on arrival we went straight into the grade 2 listed clubhouse come cafe come bar area. a nice and pleasant facility with sky and great views of the pitch from which we watched the second half from.
the ground is very good for this standard, with cover at each end and two lots of 3 step terracing along the near side of the ground.
A typical northern seaside town i would call morecambe, maybe im just being harsh seeing as i was only there for 4 hours and only saw the road in and out of the town from seafront and walked in (yes in) and on the beachfront, but sometimes you just get that feeling. a lancastrian mans barrow etc etc, that sorta place.
the new ground already looking run down, well looking hap hazardly built in the first place, mdf boarding everywhere, things in strange places, but it does the job.
a typical league stand incorporating hospitality (not much demand i expect) and typical up and down feature. two near on identical behind the goal terraces, with plenty of space outside of the ground but rather tight inside, even in this poor 1810 attendance with around 200 hardy souls from the brewery land. and then for a quid less you can stand in the 4 step side terrance open to the elements ( which around 30-40 people did), how this is enjoyable i do not know especially when it was pissing it down from kick off.
we chose the home end terrace option at a fair fifteen english pounds and plonked all 4 of ourselves in the middle as you do, with an hour till kick off. come ten to kick off and we moved, we simply could not be asked with the air raid siren (yes air raid siren) which a father for some reason had decided to bring for his kids pleasure but his wives embarrasement, three men varying ages turnt up with their separate drums not really looking like they were together or even knew who eachother were, and then final pisstake - a trumpet, a bloody trumpeteer at a league two game, what has the world come to (obviously not to morecambe - cheap shot).
the teams came out, the pitch was boggy and the rain was incessant, but the game was good, infact entertaining. morecambe took the lead when a great curling strike came off the post and into the net. burton equalised when a billy kee freekick took a massive deflection and went in.
morecambe started poorly second half and the gangly calvin zola put the brewers up, in a game which became quite dirty with seven yellows shown, morecambe equalised but neither team really looked like getting a winner.
After the lowestoft game we headed back up to great yarmouth with our newly purchased oranje wheat beer from the aforementioned brewery (we actually bought them from the clubhouse bar), and checked into the b&b for the night.
We still somehow had the energy to see those away and head out and see the nightlife, the first pub we came across resembled the one in the tv show shameless and that beer we drunk quite quickly as we swiftly made our way out the back door, we eventually stumbled across the troll cart wetherspoons, and this was much better so naturally we wasted a couple of our hours here.
we had another mammoth journey back down south for todays viewing so we left at 8, heading up to norwich and then circulating the local a and b roads before finally making it onto the more friendly double carriageways around stevenage and such like.
Kings langleys football ground if your coming from the north is before the village itself and rather near the village of apsleys train station.
A friendly welcome greeted us, a few hoppers had turned up doing the same as we’d done and added it to their two or three matches today!
Its a pretty standard fayre of a ground but has its quirky features and the game helped as kings langley were hosting top of the table (by 15+ points) london colney. We situated ourselves on the banking which is higher than the stand, and kings langley played a blinder with two quick goals effectively killing it off as a contet before half time.
A bit of walking around behind one goal saw me find two chairs, one with legs and one without, perfect and the sort of thing which appeals to me more than people coming and going at football league stadia which is so often the case.
Lots of injury time, 9 minutes i think, played into the hands of kings langley who excited the 130 plus crowd with two more goals in this time.
Spartan South Midlands Division One
kings langley 4-0 london colney
Admission £4 programme included attendance 130
so at 12.45pm part one had been completed, we merrily dashed of back down south 8 miles to lowestoft and once again did the cultural bit by standing on the most easterly point of the united kingdom at ness point, a rather subdued place, with not much signage or excitement surrounding it.
Onto the ground a short five minute drive back inland if you have a good map reader (sorry paul!), a lack of parking spaces at the ground of around ten!? Saw us having to park a fair few roads away, before we entered the ground via the clubhouse and had a pint each of lowestofts green jack brewery - trawlerman which is situated on the same road as the ground itself.
On entrance to the ground i couldnt help but feel let down, here was a team occpuying 2nd place in the ryman premier league table yet only had two sides of cover,and one side (the end) just a makeshift alimunium shelter. A little bit of terrace, think worcester and half it, gives poor sightlines.
The game itself another localish derby, bury (st edmunds) not actually bringing that many supporters at all but they went one nil up as the fantastic sam reed scored the opener. They somewhat lost the plot in the second half as they had two players sent off for straight reds. One an elbow and one a two footed lunge by a sub.
By then lowestoft had gone ahead undeservedly really and a draw would have been a fair result, one thing they do have on their side is a fair size home crowd, its miles away from anywhere and if they did go up then no conference north team would savour a trip there.