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

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

2014 Stadium #24 - Moatside

Date: 27th December 2014
Stadium: Moatside
Location: Merstham, Surrey

My twenty-fourth stadium of 2014 was on Saturday 27th December at Moatside in Mertham, Surrey. The match was Merstham vs. Chipstead in Isthmian League Division One South.

Moatside sits within an area of green space in the village of Merstham on the edge of the M25 Motorway. The venue is half a mile south-east of the village railway station and has been home for the club since the early 1920s.

The main stand is sited by the half-way line on the northern side of Moatside - this 174 seat structure has a divide down the middle allowing fans out towards a food outlet at the back of the stand. Adjacent to the stand is the main building known as 'The Venue' which includes the club bar as well as changing rooms and the boardroom.

The Church End is located behind the eastern goal and is a concrete standing section under a metal roof which extends for around half the length of this side of the ground. At the other end of the pitch is the Albury End which has a small covered concrete terrace to the side of the goal. Additional changing rooms are also located in the south-west corner. The rest of Moatside is uncovered standing.

Merstham were the in-form side going into the game as they attempted to keep up their promotion push. It took them just 7 minutes to open the scoring when a ball into the box was met by Tommy Hutchings who poked home. This was almost followed by a second in the 21st minute when an effort was cleared off the line. The respite for Chipstead proved to be temporary though as in the 31st minute Merstham did go 2-0 up. Peter Adeniyi picked up the ball on the half-way line and ran through to round the keeper and tuck the ball into the net. After dominating the opening half-hour Merstham eased off a little and the second 45 minutes was a more even affair. The visitors grabbed a goal back in the 72nd minute as Will Turl headed in a corner. It looked for a while like the home side might be unable to hang on but 10 minutes from the end Dean Gunner powered in a header from a corner to restore the two-goal lead. In the last minute Adeniyi beat several defenders down the wing and then squared for Omar Folkes to make it 4-1.

Result: Merstham 4-1 Chipstead
Division: Isthmian League Division One South
Attendance: 222

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