Thursday, 16 April 2015

2015 Stadium #5 - Woodstock Park

Date: 4th April 2015
Stadium: Woodstock Park
Location: Sittingbourne, Kent

My fifth stadium of 2015 was on Saturday 4th April at Woodstock Park in Sittingbourne, Kent. The match was Woodstock Sports vs. Holmesdale in the Southern Counties East League.

Woodstock Park is on the edge of Kent Science Park, to the south of Sittingbourne. The venue is mostly surrounded by fields with only the south-west side backing onto the Science Park itself. It is around 2.5 miles from Sittingbourne railway station. The club moved to the ground in 2010 and in 2013 Sittingbourne FC also relocated to Woodstock Park after ground problems of their own.

There is a large clubhouse on the south-west side of Woodstock Park - this building contains the club offices, dressing rooms and two bars. There are a number of benches placed in front of this for fans to sit and watch the game. The rest of this side of the ground is uncovered standing except for one covered concrete standing area in the north-west corner.

The north-east side of the pitch has no spectator areas though it is where the two dugouts have been placed. Behind the goal at the north-west end there is a small covered metal terrace while the only all-seater stand is behind the goal at the south-east end. This 150 seat structure was added in 2013 just prior to Sittingbourne moving in and there is planning permission in place to extend the seating area in this part of the ground if needed.

Woodstock came into the game comfortably ahead of Holmesdale in mid-table but were taken apart by the visitors in the opening 45 minutes. Holmesdale opened the scoring in the 8th minute when the ball broke to Benga Ogunseye on the edge of the box and was able to turn and unleash a 20 yard effort into the top corner. A couple of minutes later the visitors doubled the lead as Ogunseye again caused problems  for the home defence before squaring for Michael McKenna to tap in on the line. In the 19th minute Holmesdale scored an easy 3rd as two defenders were left unmarked at a corner and Mark Axel reacted quickest to head home. Shortly before the break the visiting side extended their lead further when Woodstock lost the ball in the area and Michael McKenna was able to loop a shot into the top corner from 20 yards out. After a dreadful first half the hosts made it a more even second period though they did concede one more goal in the 69th minute as a ball over the top found Ogunseye who lofted the ball over the advancing keeper to complete the 5-0 rout.

Result: Woodstock Sports 0-5 Holmesdale
Division: Southern Counties East League
Attendance: 30

Friday, 10 April 2015

2015 Stadium #4 - Vale Park

Date: 3rd April 2015
Stadium: Vale Park
Location: Burslem, Staffordshire

My fourth stadium of 2015 was on Friday 3rd April at Vale Park in Burslem, Staffordshire. The match was Port Vale vs. Colchester United in Football League One.

Vale Park is located in the town of Burslem in the northern part of the wider city of Stoke-on-Trent. The ground sits is bordered by Burslem Park to the south and Sproson Park to the north though also backs onto a residential area on its eastern side. The venue is 1.5 miles from the nearest railway station at Longport and has been home to the club since 1950.

The tallest stand in the ground is the Lorne Street Stand which runs alongside the eastern side of Vale Park. This stand was opened in 1999 to replace the former uncovered concrete terrace which had stood there before. It was intended to seat 5,000 fans but still remains unfinished with seats only in place for half of the lower deck. However, the upper deck was completed giving the club the opportunity to provide balcony-style hospitality boxes. The Lorne Street Stand also includes the club reception and other facilities in use by community organisations.

The Railway Stand is on the opposite side of the pitch - this was formerly a mixture of seating and terracing until the latter was upgraded during the 1990s. Several supporting columns reside in the middle of the stand and the roof does not extend out to all the seats at the front of the stand. Next to this the north-west corner has a small two-tier structure with uncovered seating in the lower section and covered seating in the upper section. This area is hemmed on by the Railway Stand on one side and the Bycars Road End on the other. The Bycars Road End is a single tier stand with two supporting columns on each side - as with some of the other stands those at the very front are a little open to the elements. Behind the goal at the southern end of Vale Park is the Hamil Road End - this 4,500 capacity stand houses the away fans and also has some stanchions half-way up the stand. On the outside of this structure, the club shop is attached  The south-west exterior of this structure backs onto to the club shop and there is also a pub across the car park.

Port Vale come into the game off the back of some really poor results and raced out of the traps early on to threaten the Colchester goal. Vale looked particularly dangerous down the wings and the U's goal led a charmed life in the opening half-hour. After this the visitors came back into the game and only a smart save from Sam Johnson prevented George Moncur opening the scoring towards the end of the first half. The second period saw Colchester well on top and they took the lead in the 57th minute as Moncur was able to play a 1-2 with Chris Porter on the edge of the box before having the time to control the ball and drag it into the bottom corner. The away side had several chances before grabbing a second goal on 77 minutes. Some sloppy passing from Vale saw the ball fall to Jacob Murphy who played a quick 1-2 with Porter before beating a defender for pace and drilling his shot into the bottom corner of the net. The hosts did get one back with a few minutes to go as Louis Dodds slammed home a volley after a corner wasn't cleared properly but in the closing stages it was Colchester who looked the more likely to score again as they claimed a 2-1 win.

Result: Port Vale 1-2 Colchester United
Division: Football League One
Attendance: 4,471

Monday, 30 March 2015

2015 Stadium #3 - Avenue Stadium

Date: 21st March 2015
Stadium: Avenue Stadium
Location: Dorchester, Dorset

My third stadium of 2015 was on Saturday 21st March at the Avenue Stadium in Dorset, Dorchester. The match was Dorchester Town vs. Frome Town in the Southern League Premier Division.

The Avenue Stadium was built on the southern tip of Dorchester next door to a retail park. The venue is bordered by a Tesco store to the north, the A35 to the south and a railway line to the east. This line splits off to Dorchester South and Dorchester West railway stations, both approximately 1 mile from the ground. The venue has been home to the club since 1990 when it replaced their nearby former home, also called 'The Avenue', where they had resided for the previous 61 years.

The ground is dominated by the main stand which is raised above pitch level on the western side of the venue. This 710 seat structure is split into 10 small seating blocks across two levels with the interior of the stand including the club reception and ticket office. Either side of the stand there small sections of uncovered concrete terracing.

On the opposite side of the pitch there are two sections of covered terracing split in the middle by additional turnstiles and a small club shop. Similar covered terracing takes up the entirety of the southern side of the ground and there is also a food outlet in the south-west corner. The northern side of the ground has the same level of concrete terracing but there is no roof in this area.

Both sides went into the game in the bottom third of the table and it was not difficult to see why after a desperately poor first half. Frome edged the early passage of play but the best chance of the half fell to the home side when Ben Watson's close range shot was tipped onto the crossbar by visiting keeper Darren Chitty. The second half was a little better but the game didn't spring into life until there was a quarter of the game left to play. In the 74th minute the hosts grabbed the lead as Bradley Tarbuck showed good strength to loop a seemingly lost ball back into the danger zone and Ben Watson was able to nod over the keeper into the top corner. Frome came back at Dorchester and in the 85th minute levelled the game up at 1-1. Shortly after having a shot cleared off the line the visitors kept sending it back into the area and with the hosts unable to gain control the ball fell to Mark Cooper on the left. Cooper whipped the ball into the six-yard box for Lewis Haldene whose saw his first effort parried by Alan Walker-Harris but then reacted quickest to the rebound to send the ball over the line. The final few minutes saw end-to-end football but with no clear cut chances Frome were able to rescue a point.

Result: Dorchester Town 1-1 Frome Town
Division: Southern League Premier Division
Attendance: 425

Thursday, 19 February 2015

2015 Stadium #2 - Beveree Stadium

Date: 24th January 2015
Stadium: Beveree Stadium
Location: Hampton, London

My second stadium of 2015 was on Saturday 24th January at the Beveree Stadium in Hampton, London. The match was Hampton & Richmond Borough vs. Dulwich Hamlet in the Isthmian League Premier Division.

The Beveree Stadium is located in the suburb of Hampton close to the banks of the River Thames. It is surrounded by a mixture of green space, residential properties and a school. The ground is half a mile east of Hampton railway station and has been home to the club since 1959.

The Beveree Stadium has a real mixture of viewing areas - on the western side of the ground there is a covered concrete terrace which runs from the south-west corner to near the half-way line. Attached to this is a seated structure with room for around 200 fans. The section where the two areas come together also contains a kid's food outlet. An additional semi-permanent all-seater stand was added to this side of the ground in 2008 in order to satisfy ground grading requirements.

The southern side of the venue saw a lot of improvements during the mid-2000s. In 2006 a renovated club house and changing rooms were completed and work was also done on the turnstiles during this period. Directly behind the goal is the Alan Simpson Stand, another all-seater structure able to seat around 100 supporters. The eastern side of the ground mostly consists of uncovered standing though there is one covered section about a quarter of the way along from the southern goal. The dugouts are situated on this side of the venue. The majority of the space behind the goal at the northern end is taken up with a covered standing section though there are uncovered standing sections either side of this.

The two sides came into the game off the back of varying form with Dulwich riding high having won six of their previous seven while Hampton & Richmond Borough had only picked up one win from their previous eight games. The visitors had the best of the early play and almost scored in the 35th minute when Nyren Clunis stuck the post from close range. In the 40th minute the ball found its way to Hampton's Charlie Moone on the edge of the Dulwich box and his smart turn gave him space to knock the ball into the bottom corner to give the hosts the lead at the interval. The muddy pitch deteriorated in the second half slowing the game down and this seemed to particularly Dulwich. They came closest to a goal with 10 minutes to go when there was a scramble in the Hampton penalty area but the ball was eventually scooped away and the home side hung on to win 1-0.

Result: Hampton & Richmond Borough 1-0 Dulwich Hamlet
Division: Isthmian League Premier Division
Attendance: 639

Thursday, 29 January 2015

2015 Stadium #1 - Cardiff City Stadium

Date: 2nd January 2015
Stadium: Cardiff City Stadium
Location: Cardiff, Wales

My first stadium of 2015 was on Friday 2nd January at the Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. The match was Cardiff City vs. Colchester United in the F.A. Cup 3rd Round.

The Cardiff City Stadium sits in the Capital Retail Park not far from the centre of the city. It is less than half a mile from Ninian Park railway station though there are several other stations, including Cardiff Central, within walking distance. The venue was opened in 2009 when the club moved from nearby Ninian Park which had been their home since 1910.

When built the stadium was a single-tier bowl on three sides with only the Grandstand on the south-west side of the venue split into two tiers. The Grandstand's two tiers are separated by a row of executive boxes while there are also additional corporate facilities at the back of the upper tier. The two corners of The Grandstand house the club offices though there is a thin layer of seats in front of this to ensure the seats extend the whole way round the ground.

In summer 2014 the Ninian Stand had an extra two tiers added to it thereby increasing the stadium capacity from around 28,000 to 33,316. The expansion consists of a larger upper tier and a smaller middle tier with some further corporate sections at the back of this. For the time being the stands behind the two goals remain single tier though there are plans in place to expand these as well should Cardiff become established in the top tier.

The match was one between two out-of-form sides and there was little to choose between them in the opening half-hour with both looking poor. In the 34th minute Cardiff grabbed the opener in fortuitous circumstances as Joe Ralls' 25-yard effort deflected off two Colchester defenders and looped over Sam Walker in the away goal. Just before the break Gavin Massey came close to pulling Colchester level but a good close range save from Simon Moore kept him out. The home side established a hold on the game in the opening passage of the second half and went 2-0 up in the 53rd minute. A corner was not well dealt with and while the ball was still up in the air Kadeem Harris reacted quickly and scored into the bottom corner with a bicycle kick. On the hour mark Cardiff went 3-0 with another goal from a corner after the run of Kenwyne Jones was not tracked at all allowing him to nod into the far corner of the net. Just when it looked like Colchester could be on the end of a hammering they got a goal back from Freddie Sears who ran at the Bluebirds defence before performing a 1-2 with Sanchez Watt and smashing the ball past Simon Moore. For the final quarter of an hour the visitors were the better side and almost made it an exciting finish when Dion Sembie-Ferris had an effort cleared off the line. This was the last meaningful action of the game as Cardiff advanced to the next round in front of the smallest ever crowd at the stadium.

Result: Cardiff City 3-1 Colchester United
Competition: F.A. Cup
Attendance: 4,194

Monday, 19 January 2015

2014 End of Year Review

Total stadiums visited: 28
Number of stadiums visited for the first time: 25
Games seen: 35
Number of goals: 117
Goals per game average: 3.34
Highest number of goals in a game: 8 goals (Wisbech Town 4-4 Thurnby Nirvana, Staines Town 3-5 Chelmsford City)
Lowest number of goals in a game: 0 goals (Colchester United 0-0 Rotherham United, Rugby Town 0-0 Chalfont St Peter, Colchester United 0-0 Bradford City)
Largest margin of victory: 5 goals (Bowers & Pitsea 1-6 Maldon & Tiptree, Haverhill Rovers 0-5 Newmarket Town)
Highest attendance: 51,057 (Newcastle United 1-2 Swansea City)
Lowest attendance: 63 (Debenham Leisure Centre 1-3 Fakenham Town)
Team most seen: Colchester United (9)
Stadiums by country: England (27), Germany (1)
Stadiums by county: Essex (4), Suffolk (4), Greater Manchester (2), London (2), Surrey (2), Cambridgeshire (1), County Durham (1), Cumbria (1), Derbyshire (1),  Dorset (1), Hampshire (1), Hertfordshire (1), Lancashire (1), Lincolnshire (1), South Yorkshire (1), Tyne & Wear (1), Warwickshire (1), West Midlands (1)

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

2014 Stadium #25 - Wheatsheaf Park

Date: 28th December 2014
Stadium: Wheatsheaf Park
Location: Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey

My twenty-fifth stadium of 2014 was on Sunday 28th December at Wheatsheaf Park in Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey. The match was Staines Town vs. Chelmsford City in Conference South.

Wheatsheaf Park is located in a built-up residential area in the south of the town just over a mile from Staines railway station. The club bought the venue in 1951 and after a few years away during redevelopment returned in 2003.

The main stand is part of the £6.5m redevelopment to the site which took place during the early 2000s. This conference and leisure facility includes the Thames Club health centre which dominates the exterior of the ground. Facing the pitch there is a 300 seat structure which is raised above the walkway below to give good views of the game. Adjacent to this is a small club shop.

On the opposite side there is a fairly long covered metal terrace which takes up around half of the southern side of the venue. In front of this sits the two dugouts. The rest of Wheatsheaf Park is uncovered standing with fairly narrow sections behind the two goals.

Staines went into the game rooted to the foot of the table but started brightly and in the 21st minute took the lead when Elliot Charles laid the ball off to Ashley Lodge who drove the ball past the Chelmsford keeper. In the 36th minute Charles managed to grab a goal himself when he poked home from close range to make it 2-0 to Staines. Just as the hosts were looking comfortable they let Chelmsford back into the game when Jerel Ifil gave the ball away to Michael Cheek on the edge of the box allowing Cheek to knock the ball into the net to give the visitors hope for the second half. Buoyed by this the visitors tore Staines apart in the second period notching up four goals in a 25 minute spell. The first came in the 53rd minute when Rohdell Gordon crossed for Cheek to volley past the Staines keeper. Jaanai Gordon made it 3-2 in the 66th minute after a strong run through the home defence and in the 71st minute Cheek completed his hattrick from a few yards out after the goalie had parried a Leon Redwood shot. A few minutes later Cheek added his fourth and Chelmsford's fifth when a deflected shot looped into the back of the net. Calum Willock managed to get a goal back in injury time to make the score a little more respectable but it was a disastrous second half for Staines who parted company with manager Marcus Gayle after the match.

Result: Staines Town 3-5 Chelmsford City
Division: Conference South
Attendance: 320