Tuesday, 2 December 2014

2014 Stadium #23 - Oakwell

Date: 14th November 2014
Stadium: Oakwell
Location: Barnsley, South Yorkshire

My twenty-third stadium of 2014 was on Friday 14th November at Oakwell in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. The match was Barnsley vs. Colchester United in Football League One.

Oakwell is in the east of the town around half a mile from Barnsley railway station and the town centre itself. The venue was opened in 1887 and the club have played there ever since.

Oakwell was extensively renovated during the 1990s and the West Stand is the only original part of the ground still in use. The West Stand is a two-tier structure which is partially covered and is a throwback to another era when compared to the rest of the stadium. The upper section has a roof with a number of supporting columns so there are restricted views for anyone in this part of the stand. Some of the seats remain from when it was built in the early part of the 20th century. The lower tier of the stand is uncovered and contains modern seating throughout. The capacity of the West Stand is around 4,750.

On the opposite side of the pitch is the East Stand, which, with a capacity of 7,500, is the largest in the ground. There are two tiers of seating with executive boxes splitting the two tiers. In the corner between this and the Pontefract Road End is an additional section for corporate viewing with room for just over 200. The Pontefract Road End itself is a single-tier stand able to house 4,500 fans and also contains the reception, club shop and a gym. The North Stand is a large single tier stand with room for over 6,000 spectators. This is used as the away end though with Barnsley currently in the 3rd tier it is usually mostly empty. Directly behind this stand are several football pitches which form part of the club's academy set-up.

Colchester made a bad start and were 1-0 down after just 3 minutes - the ball broke to Sam Winnell in the corner of the penalty area and he drilled a shot into the bottom corner of the net to give the hosts the lead. The U's were looking shaky and almost conceded a second shortly after. In the 15th minute the equaliser came as Elliot Hewitt's low cross evaded several players before Sanchez Watt poked the ball home. The game ebbed and flowed as both sides had chances with Barnsley having a goal ruled out for offside. Colchester again made a slow start to the second half and in the 55th minute retook the lead. As Devante Cole advanced on goal Sean Clohessy mistimed his tackle resulting in a penalty. Conor Hourihane sent Sam Walker the wrong way from the spot to put Barnsley 2-1. The Reds then extended their lead in the 70th minute when Peter Ramage leapt highest to head in a corner. The visitors did not give up and in the 75th minute brought the game back to 3-2 when Rhys Healey played an excellent ball through for Freddie Sears who smashed past Ross Turnbull in the Barnsley goal. Colchester applied the pressure late on but were unable to make it count as Barnsley won an exciting game of football.

Result: Barnsley 3-2 Colchester United
Division: Football League One
Attendance: 9,191

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

2014 Stadium #22 - The Camrose

Date: 1st November 2014
Stadium: The Camrose
Location: Basingstoke, Hampshire

My twenty-second stadium of 2014 was on Saturday 1st November at The Camrose in Basingstoke, Hampshire. The match was Basingstoke Town vs. Chelmsford City in Conference South.

The Camrose is opposite a retail park in the south-west part of the town around 1.5 miles from the railway station. The ground has been home to the club since 1946 though plans have been published to expand the retail park on the current stadium site and move the club to a new venue just south of the town centre.

There is a 650 seater stand on the south-east part of the ground in line with the half way line. This consists of a lower section containing dressing rooms and dugouts an upper section for the spectator areas. There are a few supporting columns for the roof and one of the floodlights sits between this stand and the pitch. On the rest of this side of the venue is uncovered standing except for a small covered section to the left of the main stand.

There is a large amount of space on the opposite side of the pitch with a covered concrete terrace set quite a way back from the pitch. In front of this is a wide area for uncovered standing. Behind the goal at the north-east end of The Camrose there is another covered concrete terrace while at the other end of the pitch there is more concrete terracing, this time uncovered. Just out from the entrance in the south-east corner of the ground there is a clubhouse located in the car park.

Chelmsford looked dangerous from the outset and went close on 4 minutes when Joe Ward's 25 yard effort fizzed just over the crossbar. In the 15th minute they did get their noses in front when Leon Redwood crossed into the box to an unmarked Jason Williams who headed into the corner of the net. A few minutes later the hosts got back on level terms when a defender failed to cut out a through ball allowing to Lloyd Macklin to muscle his way through and slot the ball into the bottom corner. The visitors started the second half strongly and though they had a goal disallowed were able to regain the lead from the penalty spot in the 53rd minute. Jamie Brown needlessly tripped Michael Cheek as he was heading out of the area and Lee Sawyer who stroked the ball home to put Chelmsford 2-1 up. In the closing stages the visitors had to withstand a spell of pressure but were able to hold on to pick up a deserved three points.

Result: Basingstoke Town 1-2 Chelmsford City
Division: Conference South
Attendance: 683

Monday, 27 October 2014

2014 Stadium #21 - Fenland Stadium

Date: 25th October 2014
Stadium: Fenland Stadium
Location: Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

My twenty-first stadium of 2014 was on Saturday 25th October at Fenland Stadium in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. The match was Wisbech Town vs. Thurnby Nirvana in the United Counties League Premier Division.

Fenland Stadium was opened in August 2010 as a new sports complex built in the north-eastern outskirts of Wisbech. Before moving the club had played at Fenland Park from 1947 until 2008 - at this point Wisbech Town entered a groundshare agreement until they were able to move in to their new home two years later. The nearest railway stations are at March and Watlington, each around 10 miles away, though stations further afield at King's Lynn and Peterborough offer better public transport connections.

The eastern side of the ground has the only all-seater stand in the venue - the 113 seat structure is covered and split into small sections. The other two stands at Fenland Stadium can be found behind the goals at the northern and southern ends - both of these are raised hard standing under a metal roof. They also include some form of seating with small wooden bench sections drilled into the western ends of the stands. The northern stand also has an additional seated section for 51 plastic bucket seats on top of concrete mounting.

The remainder of the ground is uncovered standing. On the western section of the stadium is a large building housing a large clubhouse, dressing rooms and toilets. Adjacent to this is a converted shipping container which contains the club shop. The two dugouts are also situated on the western side of the ground.

The first goal only took 90 seconds to arrive as Thurnby's Liam Canavan whipped a 30 yard ball over the head of Lea Jordan in the Wisbech goal and into the net back of the net. The visitors doubled their lead in the 17th minute - a ball upfield had resulted in a collision between several players and when the ball cannoned off Matt Melbourne it squirmed past Jordan and trickled into the bottom corner. Thurnby dominated the opening 30 minutes and should have been well out of site by the time they allowed Wisbech a foothold in the game when Jon Fairweather reduced the arrears by poking home a corner. Just a couple of minutes later Thurnby's two-goal cushion was restored as Celson Patrocinio raced down the pitch and lifted the ball over the advancing keeper to make it 3-1. Yet more chances were spurned by Thurnby and shortly before the break they conceded again when Adam Millson drilled home from close range after a shot was headed off the line. After somehow remaining in the game Wisbech were much improved in the second period and took only 30 seconds to restore parity - Danny Beaumont was left in acres of space on the left hand side and calmly controlled the ball before smashing past James Flinders in the Thurnby goal. Despite pressure from Wisbech it was the visiting team who again got their noses in front in the 70th minute as Liam Canavan headed in a cross for his second of the game. It was looking like Thurnby had done enough to leave with the points but in the 89th minute the ball found its way to Steven Reid on the edge of the Thurnby box - Reid unleashed a half-volley which flew into the top corner to save a point.

Result: Wisbech Town 4-4 Thurnby Nirvana
Division: United Counties League Premier Division
Attendance: 188

Thursday, 23 October 2014

2014 Stadium #20 - Glanford Park

Date: 18th October 2014
Stadium: Glanford Park
Location: Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire

My twentieth stadium of 2014 was on Saturday 18th October at Glanford Park in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire. The match was Scunthorpe United vs. Colchester United in Football League One.

Glanford Park sits adjacent to a retail park right on the western edge of the town. This runs alongside the M181 motorway and is 2 miles west of Scunthorpe railway station. The club left their former home at the Old Showground to move to the venue in 1988 but plans are afoot to move once again to a new all-seater ground.

From the outside Glanford Park is one of the least aesthetically pleasing stadiums in the Football League drawing comparisons with the appearance of a warehouse. This has been improved slightly as the club recently installed a wrap celebrating the team's successes over the years. Inside the 9,088 capacity ground is an enclosed rectangle shape with blocked off corners resulting in the spectator areas being split into the four sections. Only the North Stand consists of terracing with the more vocal home fans inhabiting this area. This part of Glanford Park was under threat of being converted to seating while Scunthorpe were in the second tier but relegation coupled with the announcement of another stadium move put pay to these plans.

The remaining three sides of the ground are seated with away fans positioned in the South Stand. There are a number of supporting beams across all of the stands in the ground which can restrict views but the the fairly low roof does mean the sound is retained better than some more modern venues. When Glanford Park arose Scunthorpe were the first Football League club in several decades to go for a new purpose-built stadium and they have recently decided that stadium design has moved on sufficiently to warrant another move to a new home at some point in the next few years.

The match was the first for Scunthorpe under their newly appointed manager Mark Robins but it was Colchester who almost took the lead early on. Sam Walker caught a Scunthorpe corner and the resulting fast counter-attack saw Freddie Sears hit the underside of the bar. Barely three minutes later the hosts opened the scoring against the run of play. Gary McSheffrey floated a free-kick into the box and Rory Fallon took advantage of slack Colchester defending to nod home from close range. In the 33rd minute the visitors got an equaliser when a slick passing move culminated in Freddie Sears striking a 20 yard effort into the bottom corner of the net and the visiting side remained on top in the second period. In the 80th minute Colchester had a glorious opportunity to go into the lead when George Moncur blazed over from a few yards out after a penalty box scramble. In the 92nd minute another chance went begging, this time as Rhys Healey's effort came back off the post. Shortly after the final whistle went with the hosts hanging on for a point.

Result: Scunthorpe United 1-1 Colchester United
Division: Football League One
Attendance: 3,303

Thursday, 25 September 2014

2014 Stadium #19 - Olympiastadion (Berlin)

Date: 13th September 2014
Stadium: Olympiastadion
Location: Berlin, Germany

My nineteenth stadium of 2014 was on Saturday 13th September. The match was Hertha Berlin vs. Mainz in the German Bundesliga.

The stadium is part of the Berlin Olympic Park which was created for the 1936 Olympic Games. The complex is located in the western part of the city and is served by both an S-Bahn station and and U-Bahn station though there are also several other stations within walking distance. The venue has been home to the club since 1963 when they left their former home in the north of the city.

The stadium underwent substantial renovation works between 2000 and 2004 to bring it up to the required standard to host the 2006 World Cup Final. Though many facilities were vastly improved the main look of the venue was retained. There is still the gap on the western side of the ground where the steps run up towards the Olympic torch and the stone list of medallists from the 1936 Games. This also allows views of the 250ft high bell tower which was built in 1934. With a capacity of 74,244 the seating takes the shape of a two-tier bowl though there is a section in the middle of the south side which is styled differently. The area facing the pitch consists of four small rows of VIP seating on the lower tier, a media centre on the top tier and corporate boxes right at the back of the stand. As part of the renovation works the south side now has an extensive five storey area housing VIP lounges, kitchen, police holding area, player dressing rooms, a chapel and a large car park. When the players walk onto the pitch they emerge from a tunnel underneath this part of the ground. The substantial roof weighs approximately 3,500 tonnes and has twenty supporting columns distributed across the top tier to hold it in place.

There are spacious concourses outside of the arena on both tiers with a club shop built into the eastern side of the lower tier. As the stadium is just a part of the wider Olympic Park there are vast grass areas outside for many food and drink outlets on matchday. In addition to the main stadium there are smaller football and athletics venues as well as a hockey stadium and outdoor swimming stadium. To the west of the ground is the Maifeld with the clock tower at the top of this. When approaching the main entrance to the park on the eastern front fans walk down the wide Olympischer Platz with the Olympic rings displayed between the two that dominate the skyline.

The first half was a lacklustre affair with neither side looking particularly likely to score until the 36th minute when the visitors got their noses in front. The Hertha defence were slow to react to a looped ball into the box allowing Koo Ja-Cheol a clear run at goal. His initial shot was saved but he then squared it for Shinji Okazaki who rifled the ball into the corner of the net. The second half was a more entertaining one for the fans as the effort of the home side increased. They threw on new signing Solomon Kalou with 20 minutes to go but just seconds after this change they found themselves 2-0 down after a slick team move by Mainz culminated in Sami Allagui (playing against his parent club as part of his loan spell at Mainz) tapping in from a couple of yards out. In the 86th minute the hosts reduced the deficit when Ronny scored from the penalty spot but any hopes of an equaliser were dashed in added time when Hertha were undone by another ball over the top as Yunus Malli found enough space to cross the ball to Okazaki who stroked in his second of the game from close range. Mainz were well drilled and able to expose Hertha's poor defence with the same tactics on several occasions - a well deserved victory for the away side.

Result: Hertha Berlin 1-3 Mainz
Division: German Bundesliga
Attendance: 42,069

Sunday, 7 September 2014

2014 Stadium #18 - Wessex Stadium

Date: 23rd August 2014
Stadium: Wessex Stadium
Location: Weymouth, Dorset

My eighteenth stadium of 2014 was on Saturday 23rd August at Wessex Stadium in Weymouth, Dorset. The match was Weymouth vs. Hitchin Town in the Southern League Premier Division.

The Wessex Stadium, known as the Bob Lucas Stadium since 2010, is on the edge of the town in between a golf course and a police station. The ground is just under 2 miles north-west of Weymouth railway station and has been the club's base since 1987 when they left the Recreation Ground which they had inhabited for the previous century.

The Main Stand is positioned on the western side of the ground - this all-seater structure has room for 900 fans and as it is raised well above pitch level offers good views of the game. The seating within the stand is split into three sections with the directors area located in the middle of these. This west side of the ground also includes the players entrance and a club shop.

The rest of the ground is taken up by concrete terracing with metal barriers - the terracing forms a bowl which takes up the north, east and southern side of the ground and runs up towards the Main Stand on the western side. The terracing is a mixture of covered and uncovered with the areas behind the two goals and around half of the eastern side of the ground under a roof. The covered area on the eastern side also includes a food outlet at the back of it.

Weymouth raised out of the traps and grabbed the lead with only a couple of minutes on the clock. There was panic in the Hitchin defence as they tried to clear an early corner and when the ball fell to Adam Kelly inside the box he smashed the ball into the top corner. The home side played some attractive football in the opening half but despite having Hitchin penned in they did not extend their lead and were punished for this just before half-time. In the 42nd minute Hitchin punted a free-kick into Weymouth territory - Brett Donnelly nodded the ball on to Matt Lench who chested the ball down before striking through the goalkeeper to send the sides in level at the break. Hitchin put in a much better effort in the second period though they narrowly avoided going behind again in the 65th minute when a Weymouth effort struck the angle of post and bar and was scrambled away. In the 74th minute the hosts gave the ball away to Matt Lench in midfield - Lench was able to ride one tackle and as several defenders congregated around him was able to lay the ball off to the open Donnelly. The striker had time to compose himself before drilling the ball into the bottom corner of the net. Just as it looked like the home side were heading for defeat they lobbed a long ball into the box and when the ball fell to Stewart Yetton he was able to score from close range to grab a point for Weymouth.

Result: Weymouth 2-2 Hitchin Town
Division: Southern League Premier Division
Attendance: 619

Friday, 5 September 2014

2014 Stadium #17 - Stoneylands

Date: 20th August 2014
Stadium: Stoneylands
Location: Long Melford, Suffolk

My seventeenth stadium of 2014 was on Wednesday 20th August at Stoneylands in Long Melford, Suffolk. The match was Long Melford vs. Cornard United in Eastern Counties League Division One.

Stoneylands lies on the eastern edge of the village and is part of a complex with a few football pitches which backs onto the Suffolk countryside. The nearest railway station is at Sudbury - 3.5 miles south of the ground.

There is a covered metal stand on the western side of the ground which contains 106 seats. Built in 2002 it enabled promotion into the Eastern Counties League. Adjacent to the stand is the club bar, food outlet and dressing rooms. The remainder of the west side of the ground is uncovered standing though there is a covered section by the bar.

The opposite side of the ground contains the dugouts but as space is at a premium there are no viewing areas for spectators. The rest of the ground is uncovered standing though you can see the remnants of a former covered standing area behind the goal at the northern end of the ground. As it no longer has a roof in place it offers no protection from the elements.

Cornard nearly took the lead in the 14th minute when a free-kick was tipped onto the bar but after this Long Melford got on top of the game and took the lead on the half-hour mark from the spot. Will Wingfield beat several defenders and drew Cornard goalkeeper William Green into making a mistimed slide tackle which sent Wingfield sprawling. Nathan Rowe took the penalty and shot low into the corner. In the 37th minute the visitors equalised when John Root beat a defender in the box before poking the ball home. The second half was fairly even for a time but towards the end Long Melford ratcheted up the pressure on Cornard and in the 78th minute they made their breakthrough when Glen Harris headed in from a corner. Just a few minutes later the hosts had a third as Jack Durey dispossessed a Cornard defender close to goal and was able to tuck the ball into the net.With only five minutes remaining the game petered out ensuring Long Melford's winning start to the season continued.

Result: Long Melford 3-1 Cornard United
Division: Eastern Counties League Division One
Attendance: 118