Friday, 16 September 2016

2016 Stadium #11 - Falmer Stadium

Date: 9th August 2016
Stadium: Falmer Stadium
Location: Falmer, East Sussex

My eleventh stadium of 2016 was on Tuesday 9th August at Falmer Stadium in Falmer, East Sussex. The match was Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Colchester United in the Football League Cup 1st Round.

Falmer Stadium, currently known as the American Express Community Stadium or the Amex, lies in the midst of two university campuses - the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex. To the north-east of Brighton the ground is located just off the A27 and is served by Falmer railway station which is adjacent to the site. The venue was opened in 2011 giving the club a permanent home for the first time since leaving the Goldstone Ground in 1997.

The stadium's unusual shape, designed to fit in with the surrounding rolling hills, sees to large stands running alongside the pitch and short ends behind the two goals. When the venue opened in 2011 there were four separate seating areas but within six months the club applied to add an additional 8,000 seats taking the overall capacity to 30,750 by the end of the 2012/13 season. The result of this is that all four quadrants have been filled in creating a lower tier bowl throughout the ground. With the short ends behind the goals the North and South Stand are single tier. The South Stand has a small hospitality area with a balcony overhanging the seating while the North Stand has a control centre and offices contained within. On the exterior of the North Stand there is the large club shop and ticket offices.

The largest stand in the ground is the West Stand which has three tiers. The middle tier is thinner than the other two and also extends out into the north-west and south-west quadrants. There are corporate boxes placed at the top of the lower and middle tiers and the fans 1901 Club is also included. As the largest stand a number of offices and meeting rooms are housed within. Opposite this is the East Stand which was a single tier stand when Falmer Stadium opened but a second tier was soon added. The south-east corner is where away fans are positioned with the hill directly behind this corner of the ground being the designated area for coach parking.

This was a League Cup 1st Round tie between Football League Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion and Football League Two side Colchester United. The first half was a cagey affair - Colchester had come with a tightly packed defence and frustrated the home side to a handful of half chances. The visitors had a couple of counter attacking moments with Sammie Szmodics going closest with a header from six yards. Colchester's resistance was broken in the 64th minute when Kazenga Lua Lua went down the left wing and squared for Sam Baldock on the edge of the area. Baldock had time to readjust and curl an effort into the top of the net. Once the first goal went in that was the end of the challenge from the visiting side as the hosts added two more in quick succession. The second goal was scored int he 70th minute when Lua Lua again ran at the U's defence before slipping in Jamie Murphy who ghosted behind the back line and chipped the ball over Dillon Barnes. In the 74th minute Colchester were undone down the left wing again as Baldock had time to pick out Elvis Manu in the area with Manu sliding low into the goal. The Championship team rounded off the night with a fourth in the 86th minute as Jamie Murphy ran through three defenders on his way to steering the ball into the bottom corner. Though the League Two side had put up a decent performance for the first hour the capitulation in the final third saw Brighton record a comfortable 4-0 victory.

Result: Brighton & Hove Albion 4-0 Colchester United
Competition: Football League Cup
Attendance: 6,895

Friday, 2 September 2016

2016 Stadium #10 - Alfredian Park

Date: 6th August 2016
Stadium: Alfredian Park
Location: Wantage, Oxfordshire

My tenth stadium of 2016 was on Saturday 6th August at Alfredian Park in Wantage, Oxfordshire. The match was Wantage Town vs. Paulton Rovers in the Southern League Division One South & West.

The ground is on the southern road into Wantage a short walk from the town centre. It runs against housing for some of its east side but is otherwise entirely surrounded by fields in this rural part of the country. The nearest railway station of Didcot Parkway is some 9 miles east of the venue.

Alfredian Park has just a single covered stand which runs for around half the length of the east side of the ground. This stand is a mixture of seating and standing areas - the southern most part of it consists of 85 seats with a raised concrete platform next to this. Beyond this there is another section of seating in the form of two rows of wooden benches and finally the northern end another raised concrete platform area.

The rest of the ground is uncovered standing - the south and western sides have a strip of gravel and behind this a decent sized grass area to view from. The car park is directly behind the northern goal and behind this is the club building which houses the club house and player areas.

This was the opening day of the Southern League season and the game took a while to get going. Paulton edged proceedings by creating the more clear cut chances. The breakthrough came just before the break when good Reeko Best did well to steal the ball on the right-wing before drilling the ball across the face of goal to allow Kailan Gould to bundle in. Paulton's goal just before the break was then matched by one just after as they went two goals to the good. This one saw the ball clipped into the box and a big deflection off Wantage defender Stuart Cattell saw the ball loop over the keeper and into the net. In the 53rd minute the visitors put the result beyond doubt with an excellent team goal. Will Hailstone did well down the wing and laid the ball off for Elliott Gibbons to curl into the corner. Almost straight from the kick-off Paulton then very nearly added a fourth. It came about when the Wantage goalie and a Paulton attacker both went for the ball on the edge of the box sending it cannoning back off the crossbar and away. This was the wake-up call for Wantage to get back into the game and avoid a thrashing and they did do that with a much more positive last half-hour. The visitors came close to rounding the tie off with another goal in injury time but blasted a shot straight at the keeper from a few yards out.

Result: Wantage Town 0-3 Paulton Rovers
Division: Southern League Division One South & West
Attendance: 43

Thursday, 9 June 2016

2016 Stadium #9 - Parken

Date: 16th May 2016
Stadium: Parken
Location: Indre Osterbro, Copenhagen, Denmark

My ninth stadium of 2016 was on Monday 16th May at Parken in Indre Osterbro, Copenhagen, Denmark. The match was FC Copenhagen vs. FC Nordsjælland in the Danish Superliga.

The stadium is part of a sporting complex which lies adjacent to the Fælledparken green space. Parken is the largest of two stadiums in the area with the 7,000 capacity Osterbro Stadium sitting next door playing host to two smaller Copenhagen sides. The venue is one mile west of Nordhavn railway station and has been home to FC Copenhagen since it was constructed in 1992.

Parken was built on the site of the former Danish national stadium of Idrætsparken which was in use between 1911 and 1990. Completed in 1992 the venue became the new home for FC Copenhagen and the Danish national team. It has a capacity of 38,065 for football but this can be increased up to 55,000 for concerts. The stadium has also played host to handball and the Danish round of the Speedway Grand Prix world championship. The east and west stands hold the largest number of supporters - the two run alongside the pitch and are almost mirror images of each other. Both are two tiered stands with a strip of corporate boxes separating the two tiers. The East Stand is considered the main stand and contains the dugouts and dressing rooms.

The other two-tier stand is behind the goal at the southern end of the stadium. The lower tier is given over to the more vocal home support with a minimum age limit of 15. The northern end of the ground is the only single-tier one at Parken. Above the single tier of seating are several glass floors of offices and hospitality areas which means the stand is of roughly the same height to the other three. All four stands are separate in so far as none of the four corners are filled in with seating. This ensures the venue retains a compact feel. These corners hold a variety of facilities - the north-east corner containing offices and a restaurant, the north-west corner having a cafe and the club shop, the south-west including a gym and the south-east housing a fan club.

Copenhagen went into the match knowing a win would be good enough to secure them the Danish Superliga title with a couple of games to spare. They went close to opening the scoring in the 9th minute when a shot from Youssef Toutouh from the edge of the area curled just wide, hitting a stanchion behind the goal. In the 23rd minute they went close again when a corner was cleared as far as Peter Ankersen who drilled a 30-yard shot through the pack of players only to see his effort palmed away by David Jensen. Despite being well on top it was 0-0 at the interval and the hosts continued the second half in similar attacking form to the first. It was all Copenhagen in the opening passage of play and their banging on the door finally paid off in the 63rd minute. Benjamin Verbic picked up the ball and advanced towards the area before laying it off to Federico Santander who, with his back to goal, turned and shot low from 18 yards into the bottom corner of the net. The home side doubled their lead in the 67th minute. Again it was Verbic and Santander linking up with the former making good work down the right wing as he skipped over a sliding tackle before crossing low for Santander to poke home on the line. It took until the 80th minute for Nordsjælland to finally test Robin Olsen in the home goal. However by that point it was too late and the visitors, on a poor run of form, slipped to another defeat. Celebrations could start as the final whistle went confirming Copenhagen's 11th Danish Superliga title. Plenty of fans stayed to enjoy the occasion and applaud the players on their lap of honour.

Result: FC Copenhagen 2-0 FC Nordsjælland
Division: Danish Superliga
Attendance: 23,063

Monday, 23 May 2016

2016 Stadium #8 - The Cuthbury

Date: 9th April 2016
Stadium: The Cuthbury
Location: Wimborne Minster, Dorset

My eighth stadium of 2016 was on Saturday 9th April at The Cuthbury in Wimborne Minster, Dorset. The match was Wimborne Town vs. Didcot Town in the Southern League Division One South & West.

The Cuthbury is on the western edge of Wimborne and its eastern side sits directly behind the town's Victoria Hospital. It is bordered by a mixture of housing and allotments to the north and south with an additional football pitch and then the River Stour to the west. The venue is 7 miles north of the nearest railway station at Poole and has been the home of the club since they formed.

The north side of the ground is a mixture of standing and seating, all of which is covered. This side is roughly split into thirds with the western third taken up with hard standing. The middle section consists of the dressing rooms and a small all-seater stand with approximately 40 seats. The eastern third has a couple of rows of wooden benches. Adjacent to this is the north-east corner which includes a small club shop, a seating area with a food outlet and a nice clubhouse consisting of a pub bar and a tea bar.

The pitch runs downhill towards the southern side of the venue which is all uncovered standing. In the middle of southern end are the two dugouts with a gantry on top. As with the northern end the western end of the ground is all covered though there are no seats. The area behind the eastern goal is very narrow - there is enough room for a fairly small number of people to view from but it probably more of a walkway than a spectator area. Directly behind this is netting to stop the balls going into the neighbouring hospital.

Going into the game both sides were well clear of the play-offs as well as the relegation zone so didn't have to worry about anything being at stake. Wimborne took the lead in the 12th minute with the goal coming about when Billy Maybury beat Harry Beer down the left hand side and clipped a ball into the box. This cross was then nodded back into the six yard box and a collision between the goalkeeper, a defender and Wimborne attacker James Stokoe saw the ball bundled into the net. The hosts came close to a second in the 36th minute when the ball was worked well in the box before being chipped onto the roof of the net. The home side were on top in this first half against a flat Didcot side but just before the break the visitors drew level from a corner when Luke Carnell powered a header into the top corner. The second 45 minutes was end-to-end with wasteful finishing from both sides meaning no more goals were scored. Didcot came the closest to netting again when James Organ's header was cleared off the line with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Result: Wimborne Town 1-1 Didcot Town
Division: Southern League Division One South & West
Attendance: 206

Friday, 6 May 2016

2016 Stadium #7 - Kiln Park

Date: 29th March 2016
Stadium: Kiln Park
Location: Raunds, Northamptonshire

My seventh stadium of 2016 was on Tuesday 29th March at Kiln Park in Raunds, Northamptonshire. The match was Raunds Town vs. Rushden & Higham United in United Counties League Division One.

Kiln Park is on the northern edge of the town of Raunds. It is just off the A45 road with a service station directly to the north of the ground. It is 8 miles east of the nearest railway station at Wellingborough and has been the home of the club since 1991.

The western side of the ground has an all-seater stand with a capacity of 253. This includes a section of 24 seats for officials which is separated from the remaining seats by concrete. Next to this stand is the clubhouse building which includes a bar and player dressing rooms. This building then leads out towards the car park at the side of the venue. Towards the southern end of this side of the ground there is an additional covered standing area.

The rest of ground is uncovered standing behind a metal and concrete barrier. There are large grass areas behind the barriers on the other three sides of the pitch. This is particularly true down the eastern side of the ground where the dugouts are positioned. The viewing area here is set quite a way back from the pitch.

Raunds began the game well and took the lead in the 8th minute when a corner was headed on by Karl King allowing Marc Harrison to nod in on the line. The home side doubled their lead in the 16th minute when a ball over the top to King beat the offside trap and he was able to turn and shoot into the bottom corner from 25 yards. Rushden reduced the deficit in the 22nd minute when the ball was crossed into the box from the right-wing and Aaron Cormack was able to get on the end of it to slid the ball in. Just before the half-hour mark the visitors then equalised from the penalty spot after the keeper felled a Rushden attacker. Jory Mann stepped up and smashed the penalty down the middle. There was then another flurry of goals just before the interval. Raunds went 3-2 up after a counter-attack saw Nathaniel Gosnal-Tyler pick up the ball on the left wing, cut inside a couple of defenders and shoot low inside the near post. The hosts were pegged back again almost immediately though -Jack Dyson was running across the area and as he shot from 20 yards a tackle deflected the ball past the keeper. Incredibly there was still time for another goal before the break as the ball was crossed into the box from the left-wing and Karl King rose above all to head down and past keeper into far corner. That was King's 2nd and Raunds' 4th in a breathless first half that had seen seven goals. Sadly the second half didn't live up to the excitement of the first and there were no more goals. Rushden were the better side but came up against a strong performance from Chris Jones in the home goal. The closest they came to securing a 4-4 draw was in the 72nd minute when a Rushden attacker was clean through only to be denied by a good save from Jones.

Result: Raunds Town 4-3 Rushden & Higham United
Division: United Counties League Division One
Attendance: 34

Thursday, 28 April 2016

2016 Stadium #6 - Station View

Date: 28th March 2016
Stadium: Station View
Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire

My sixth stadium of 2016 was on Monday 28th March at Station View in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. The match was Harrogate Railway Athletic vs. Farlsey Celtic in the Northern Premier League Division One North.

As the name suggests the Station View ground sits within sight of Starbeck railway station in the east of Harrogate. The venue is a couple of hundred yards from the station where the club was formed by railway workers in 1935. It has remained Harrogate Railway Athletic's home ever since.

The western part of the ground has a tiny 38-seat structure known as the Shaun Glennon Stand set into a grass bank and in front of this are the two dugouts. Either side of the stand there is uncovered standing with 3 rows of concrete terracing towards the southern goal. The northern end behind the other goal is all covered but it is split in the middle with concrete terracing for the western half and seating for the eastern half. As the pitch slopes down towards the eastern end of the ground more rows are added as you work your way along.

In north-east corner there is small building housing a club shop and a food outlet. The eastern side itself is uncovered standing with a small car park located directly behind. The south-east corner then has a modern clubhouse building while the area behind the southern goal is similarly uncovered standing with a fairly narrow section between the goal and the fence.

Farlsey were the better side in the first half - they played some nice passing football but were unable to fashion an end product early on. That state of affairs lasted until the 35th minute when they managed to take the lead. A ball into Harrogate's box wasn't cleared well and it fell to Aiden Savory who did a nice drag back to create space to allow him to drill the ball into the bottom corner from six yards out. A few minutes later the same man almost put the visitors 2-0 up when he had a shot saved at point blank range. The away side looked fairly comfortable until they gifted Harrogate an equaliser in the 53rd minute when a very short backpass was picked up by Chris Ovington who slotted past the keeper. Both sides had good spells after this and both keepers were on decent forms to keep the scores level. Aiden Savory caused the home side all kinds of problems throughout the game and he had another point blank effort saved before he hit the post with a curled effort with a few minutes to go.

Result: Harrogate Railway Athletic 1-1 Farsley Celtic
Division: Northern Premier League Division One North
Attendance: 161

Friday, 15 April 2016

2016 Stadium #5 - Kellamergh Park

Date: 26th March 2016
Stadium: Kellamergh Park
Location: Warton, Lancashire

My fifth stadium of 2016 was on Saturday 26th March at Kellamergh Park in Warton, Lancashire. The match was AFC Fylde vs. Bradford Park Avenue in National League North.

Kellamergh Park is located in countryside just north of the village of Warton. Surrounded by fields on all sides the ground is accessed via The Birley Arms pub car park. The nearest railway stations at Moss Side and Kirkham & Wesham are around 3 miles away. The venue has only been home to the club since 2006 but with ambitions to reach the Football League AFC Fylde will move to a new 6,000 capacity stadium on the outskirts of Wesham for the start of the 2016/17 season.

The western part of Kellamergh Park includes the Main Stand which takes up around half of the space alongside the pitch. It has 282 seats including a press area and also has a TV gantry positioned on top of it. This stand is flanked by two shipping containers which have been converted to hospitality areas. There is another smaller container in the south-west corner which is home to a club shop.

Working round to the southern end of Kellamergh Park there is a newer all-seater stand directly behind the goal. This stand was completed in March 2015 and has 250 seats spread across seven rows of seating. Next to this is a food outlet and then another shipping container which serves as Fuller's Bar. The southern side is completed by a scoreboard in the corner. Uncovered hard standing makes up the western part of the ground though there are raised concrete sections throughout to slightly improve viewing. The two dugouts are located on this sparse section of the stadium. Finally the Wrea Green End behind the northern goal consists of a covered terrace - this has eight levels of concrete steps with two sections of uncovered hard standing bookending the stand.

There had been a fair amount of rain in the build-up to the match but it had ceased an hour before kick-off so the pitch was in reasonable condition to start the game. A quarter of an hour into the game the rain started again and this time it was torrential. The rain coupled with strong winds presented real difficulties for the players with goal kicks and throw-ins regularly being blown straight off the pitch. The only action of note came in the 27th minute when a Fylde free-kick was handled in the box and Danny Rowe smashed home the penalty to put the hosts 1-0 up. Even before this the rain was saturating the pitch and one particularly bad area near the northern goal became completely waterlogged. When the ball landed in this area just after the half-hour mark it completely stuck to the ground despite the players attempting to clear the ball to a better area of the pitch. At this point the referee halted preceedings and after discussions with both managers the game was abandoned after 32 minutes.

Result: AFC Fylde 1-0 Bradford Park Avenue (Match Abandoned)
Division: National League North
Attendance: N/A