Welcome to my blog detailing my groundhopping exploits. My aim is to visit all football grounds in England (Premier league to the 8th tier) Scotland (SPL to 3rd Division) and the Welsh premier league I may also add grounds from other sports or countries. I hope you enjoy reading.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Chatham Town - Maidstone Road Sport Ground

Match - Chatham Town 2-4 Waltham Forest
Competition - Isthmian League Division 1 North
Admission - £8
Scarf - £7
Attendance - 127
Food - Hot Dog/Chips  7/10
Ground No. 112
Ground Rating - 7/10

On Saturday I went back to the town of my birth and went to see Chatham Town play against Waltham Forest. Both teams were sitting in the lower regions of mid-table and could really do with a win to start pushing themselves up the table.

The journey to Chathams Maidstone Road ground was a simple one and there was plenty of parking in the club car park just outside the turnstiles. The entrance to the ground shown below looks new with the sign above the turnstiles welcoming you to the ground.

The ground itself is like a lot of grounds at this level made up of old and new stands. On entering the ground the stand on your left is the new club house/stand which incorporates everything. At the near end of the stand is the Bar and Snack bar. Further along the stand there are around 5 steps of terracing and at the back of the stand are the Changing rooms, Club Shop and toilets. The players and officials enter the playing surface by walking down steps through a small fenced tunnel.

On the right hand side after entering the ground is an older looking seated stand running down the near touchline consisting of 4/5 rows of wooden bench type seating it looks as though this stand used to contain the players tunnel. The opposite touchline has a small newer seated stand that has 4 rows of red plastic tipping seats with the area in the middle reserved for home and away officials, this stand is someway back from the barriers surrounding the pitch and with the team dugouts this side of the ground the visibility from these seats is quite poor. The far end of the ground just consists of some hard standing with one small step behind the goal.
Stand on far touchline
Me and my Dad arrived at the ground around 2pm and went straight to the snack bar, this was still shut so went for a pint in the nice new club bar, the bar has two TVs which were both showing Sky Sports News, the walls are covered in old photos and memorabilia that has built up over the clubs 130 year history. The club have quite close ties with the Royal Engineers FC, who my brother currently plays for while serving as a bomb disposal expert in the Engineers (Chatham is the RE Headquarters), my dad was also in the Royal Engineers for 24 years but was never able to play football to the level required to make the core squad, and local League side Gillingham (Who are my Club) and this is shown within the memorabilia adorning the walls.

When we left the Bar we headed to the snack bar which had opened and I opted for a hot dog and chips, the hot dog consisted of 2 sausages in french stick (Very Nice) then went to the club shop to get my scarf before the match started.

Before the match started we had a minute silence to remember those who had given their lives in the line of duty defending our freedom, this is quite prominent at the moment in my family as my brother has just returned from a 6 month tour in Afghanistan where his troop sadly lost 3 men. A wreath was laid in the centre circle by the captain of Chatham's under 10 side.

The match started badly for Chatham as during the warm-up there captain and centre back pulled up injured and was unable to play, this got worse as after 30mins they had lost 2 more of there defenders through injury, one with a large cut to his head and another with a dislocated shoulder. This played havoc with an already ragged looking back line. Waltham Forest were playing some nice attacking football and took full advantage going in at half time 3-0 up, this could have been a lot more.

Chatham played a lot better in the 2nd period and started to put some pressure on Waltham Forest and were rewarded half way through the half when the visiting keeper upended a Chatham attacker and a penalty was given. The penalty was saved though but after trying to get to the loose ball the visiting keeper again took out the attacker and Chatham were awarded another penalty which with a different taker was scored to give Chatham hope of a comeback.

Sunset behind new stand during second half
Although Chatham were playing better in the 2nd half Forest still looked dangerous while on the attack, the front 3 were all quick and strong and with a makeshift backline Chatham were still finding them a handful and with 10 Min's to go Forest were awarded a penalty of there own which they duly converted putting the game beyond any doubt. Chatham managed to score a very late consolation goal but Forest more than deserved there 4-2 win which probably flattered Chatham a bit.

I enjoyed my day out at Chatham with a nice ground a good game of football, who could ask for more.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Tilbury FC - Chadfields

Match - Tilbury FC 1-1 AFC Sudbury
Competition - Isthmian League Division 1 North
Admission - £8
Scarf - N/A
Attendance - 110
Food - Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese & Chips  7/10
Ground No - 111
Ground Rating - 4/10

We are almost 2 months into the new season now and I was finally going to see my first game of it. My main target for this season is to complete the Ryman League Division 1 North, I have 9 to get to including this one at Tilbury FC. Today's game was a league encounter against AFC Sudbury.

Tilbury play at Chadfields a small ground with a capacity of around 4000 located right next to a Gypsy site in the town of Tilbury just up the road from Grays in Essex. We arrived at the ground at around 2.15 and once we had parked up in the small club Car Park headed to the Tilbury FC Social Club for a quick pint before entering the ground.

The Social Club seemed quite dark and dingy and many of the windows had there metal shutters pulled down. Inside there was a TV and a projector screen on which they were showing the early Premier league match between Arsenal and Chelsea. There was also a large Tilbury FC Flag in the corner below the TV screen.

In the entrance there were plans detailing a possible new ground for the club which would be built on ground adjacent to there current location, which after seeing the ground was obviously required.

Chadfields is an old stadium which looks as though it receives minimal maintenance, probably due to the planned move. There are two seated stands at the half way line on each side of the ground. The Main Stand is down the touchline from the turnstiles. This stand houses the Changing Rooms which are at ground level with seating above which is accessed by a set of stairs to the side of the stand. The stand has a number of supporting pillars that would obstruct your view of the action. Each side of the Main Stand there are small uncovered terraced areas.

On the Opposite side of the ground there is another small seated stand with around 5 rows of seats (and a broken roof), this stand has covered terracing at each side of it. The team dugouts are on this side of the ground meaning that managers, Physio's etc have to walk across the pitch before each half to reach them.

The near end of the ground is where the turnstiles and Snack Bar are located  with just a path running behind the goal in front of the social club building which is inaccessible from inside the ground. At the far end there is some uncovered terracing. At both ends of the ground metal fences have been erected directly behind the goal, to stop balls flying out of the ground, this though means that anyone wishing to stand there has to look through the fences to watch the game.

Far End Terrace
   The game itself started reasonably brightly with Sudbury creating a couple of decent chances, but with the rough playing surface any type of passing football went out the game and both sides started playing very direct football with the centre halves clearing any aerial balls very easily, limiting any real goal mouth action.

The deadlock was finally broken though when Tilbury attacker Emiel Aiken received the ball around 30 yards out turned and hit a cracking shot into the bottom right hand corner of Sudburys goal leaving the keeper little chance.

Sudbury came out in the second half and tried to play more of a passing game which helped them build some pressure on the Tilbury back line. They were rewarded ten minutes into the half when former Tilbury man Tom Webb was released on the left hand side of the penalty area and scored the equaliser into the far corner of the Tilbury goal.

The remainder of the match was a bit bland with nobody really getting hold of the game which reverted back to route 1 stuff, until the last 5 minutes when both teams realised that the game was there for the taking and had a number of good chances to claim a winner but a mixture of poor finishing and good goalkeeping particularly from Howe in the Sudbury goal meant that the game finished level.

A draw in the end was a fair result from a game where both teams I'm sure were far from there best.

In conclusion a poor stadium matched by a poor game of football, but at least the season is underway (for me) and hopefully things can only get better from here

Friday, 14 September 2012

Olympic Park - Paralympic Games - Various Dates

Olympic Stadium

Paralympic Opening Ceremony 29/08/12
Paralympic Athletics 08/09/12

Copper Box

Goalball - 30/08/12
                Team GB 1-11 Lithuania
                Finland 5-6 Brazil
                Turkey 9-2 Sweden

Aquatics Centre

Paralympic Swimming 07/09/12

Over the past couple of weeks I have been lucky enough to attend a number of events at the London 2012 Paralympic games.

Firstly I attended the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium this was an incredible night I have uploaded a small portion of photos below. I didn't understand what was going on half the time but it all looked spectacular. Although the near 2 hours of watching the teams enter the stadium did drag a bit until Team GB entered and the stadium erupted.

                  Team GB Enter the Stadium



The next morning I went to see some goalball, this is yet another sport that I went to see during the course of the Olympic and Paralympic games that I had never seen or really heard of before.

Goalball is played by two teams of 3 at each end of a small court where they have to roll the ball into the others goal. The difficulty in this sport is that all the players are either blind or partially sighted and wear eye masks so that they are all on a level playing field. The ball has bells in and therefore players are listening for the ball rather than looking for it. As such the crowd must remain silent while the ball is in play but are able to cheer when a goal is scored which isn't as often as I would have thought as the players hearing must be incredible.

Goalball was played in the Copper Box on the Olympic Park. The Copper Box is one of the Smaller Venues on the park holding around 6000 Spectators in two tiers of multicoloured seats. It is a permanent venue and will be transformed into a sports hall after the games.

The first game in the session was between Team GB and reigning world champions Lithuania

We were only entered into the tournament due to being the host nation and the class difference definitely showed in this match. In Goalball a game is stopped if one team goes 10 goals ahead and this one was with still 8 minutes to go of the second half (each half is 12 minutes long) with the Lithuanians leading 11-1.

The second match was what was to be the final of the tournament between Finland and Brazil. Brazil just scrapped a 6-5 win. Finland gained revenge in the final winning 8-1.

Match action Brazil attacking

The last game in the session was between Turkey and Sweden with Turkey winning comfortably with a score of 9-2.

Eventual Champion Finland Defending

The next week we went to the Aquatics Centre to watch the Paralympics Swimming, the night we went involved all finals.
The Aquatics Centre is probably the most impressive looking stadium on the Park and holds around 20,000 spectators. The seats inside the venue are located on either side of the pool with big screens at one end and the diving pool at the other. From the top tier of seats you are unable to see most of the seats on the opposite side of the pool due to the roof that curves down low towards the pool.
View from seats

One of the most impressive races of the night was the T11 men's 400m Freestyle. T11 is for blind swimmers who are tapped on the head with a long stick with a foam ball on the end when they get to each end of the pool so that they are able to complete there turns perfectly. The winner was an American ex Navy serviceman, who I believe was injured in action.  
T11 Men's 400m Medal Ceremony
The last race of the night was the Women's 4x100m medley relay, Great Britain were in the race. They started slowly but with 50m to go were catching the leaders very quickly and the noise within the Aquatics Centre while they were doing so was incredible, of all the sporting events I have ever been to I have never heard a noise like it, it was deafening and I was unable to hear my own shouting. Unfortunately Team GB were just pipped to gold by 0.03 seconds. But the race ended the night perfectly.
The next day I was back at the Olympic Stadium to watch the last night of the Athletics. The stadium seats 80,000 in two tiers with large screens at each end between the two tiers. The stadium is due to be decreased in size after the games but to what nobody is entirely sure until it has been decided who is to occupy the stadium.  There were very few Brits involved in any of the finals I saw, but did get to see the Paralympics poster boy Oscar Pistorious win the T44 400m Final.The best event of the night though was in fact the High Jump, with the eventual winner from Poland breaking the current world record by jumping 2.12m. his was not the only world record of the night though as every race seemed to break a World Record there were at least 7 on the night.
Now that the Olympic/Paralympics are over I will now concentrate back on the football. My aim this season is to complete the Ryman League Division 1 North. I have 9 clubs to get to. I also want to complete the London based premier league clubs of which I only need to get to QPR's Loftus Road ground.
My first game will be at Tilbury on the 29th Sept. But until that time I will leave you with one more picture of the Olympic Park.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Olympic Park - 8th August

Riverbank Arena - Hockey

9-10 Classification (Women) Japan 2-1 South Africa
7-8 Classification   (Women) S Korea 1-5 Germany

Basketball Arena - Handball

1/4 Final (Men) Croatia 25-23 Tunisia

With the football season just about to begin I am just starting to think about my groundhopping for the coming season but before all that starts there was another small sporting event taking place in London that warranted some interest, the London 2012 Olympic Games.

As the "biggest show on Earth" and with it being just up the road I couldn't not make the effort to get hold of tickets for this once in a lifetime experience.As a groundhopper I wanted to try and get to as many of the stadiums and arenas as possible especially those on the Olympic Park themselves. As with many people though I was unsuccessful in getting any tickets in the first round application process, but was lucky enough to get hold of tickets for a couple of sessions in the second round.

So there I was at 5am picking Will Harmer up from his house and on my way down the M11 to Epping Tube station to go and watch some Hockey and Handball, two sports that I have never watched previously and had very little or no knowledge of.

The journey to the park was very easy and on leaving Stratford station were greeting by a mass of the volunteer Games Makers who were directing everyone to the Olympic Park. Entering the Park was similar to going through border control at any major airport and the military personnel who were managing things made it very quick and easy and there were no issues.

We entered at the Stratford Gate and were immediately met by the impressive Aquatics Arena to our left with the Orbit and the Olympic Stadium in front.

I will have more photos of both the Aquatics Arena and the Olympic stadium in a later blog as I have tickets to both for the upcoming Paralympics.

As we had an early session at the Riverbank Arena the other end of the Park we made our way straight there to take our seats for the first of two matches that were included in the session, Japan vs S Africa in the 9-10 classification match for the Womens competition.

The Riverbank Arena is a temporary Arena and is made up of 4 scaffolding stands holding around 20,000 spectators and as such looked very basic. There is no covered seating apart from the very centre of the West Stand which is reserved for VIPs, so we were hoping that the dark clouds that were looming would not produce any rain.

The match was a very close game which was eventually won with a penalty stroke (not a Penalty Corner) by Japan in Golden goal extra time. The match finishing 2-1.

Japan score there first goal with a Penalty Corner (Not Penalty Stroke)
The second match was the 7-8 Classification match between S Korea and Germany, this match had much more action and Germany ran away with a comfortable 5-1 win that secured them 7th place in the competition.

S Korea and Germany line up for National Anthems
The atmosphere within the arena started off very subdued as it was only half full possibly due to the early start time with most people not arriving until at least half time of the Japan - S Africa match but this definitely brightened up during the second match along with the weather which became very warm and sunny in the early afternoon.  
Olympic Stadium and Orbit as seen from the river
that runs through the Park

The session finished around 1.30pm and we then had an 8 hour wait until our evening Handball 1/4 final match was due to get underway. During this time we had a walk around the rest of the park.


After having a walk round the Park we met up with my parents who had been to see some athletics that morning for a quick catch up, we then left the Park and hopped on the tube to Kings Cross and went for some lunch and a pint in the Euston Flyer along Euston Road, which was a lot cheaper than eating at the Park and watched some of the other Olympic action on the big screens that had been set-up.

Around 6pm we made our way back to the Olympic Park making use of the Javelin service that was running between St Pancreas Station and Stratford International.

We made our way to the Basketball Arena and sat watching the big screen that has been set-up in the centre of the Park to watch Usain Bolts 200m Semi Final before entering the Arena.

The Basketball Arena is also a temporary Arena which I believe is to be reused at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and possibly again at the next Olympics in Rio. The Arena was used originally for the Basketball Group matches, the games were then moved to the O2 (sorry North Greenwich Arena) once they reached the Knockout phase of the competition. The Handball was moved to the Arena for their Knockout Phase. The court was transformed from Basketball to Handball in under 24 hours.

Although it just looks like a big tent from the outside the Arena looks rather impressive on the inside.

I had never watched a Handball match before and had no idea what to expect. The sport is very minor in this country but in the rest of Europe it has a massive following and the supporters of both Croatia and Tunisia were very vocal and created a fantastic atmosphere within Stadium.

This sport may just be one of my new favourites. A cross between Football, Basketball and Rugby this is a full contact sport and both teams, especially Tunisia didn't hold back, with one of their players even being suspended from the rest of the game just before half time after kicking an opponent at least 3 foot in the air. The game was fast and action packed.

Croatia came in as favourites but found themselves behind at half time but in the end there ability shone through and they managed to make it through to the semi final winning by 25 (goals,points,runs I have know idea) to 23.

I have no photos of match action as flash photography during play is forbidden but trust me if you ever get a chance to go to a game do it you wont be disappointed.

Finally a massive thanks should go to all the Volunteers and Military personnel who have worked on the Olympic Park during the games they would not have happened without them.

I had a great time at the Olympic Park and can't wait to go back for the Paralympics where I will be blogging on the Opening Ceremony,Athletics and Swimming as well as Goalball.

After that I will be back to the usual football grounds for the 2012/13 season.


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Corby Town - Steel Park

Match - Corby Town 0-5 Harrogate Town
Competition - Conference North
Admission - £12
Scarf - N/A
Attendance - 460
Food - All Steak Pukka Pie 8/10
Ground No - 110
Ground Rating - 6/10

My last game of the 2012/13 season was to Corby Town's Steel Park to see there last game of the season against Harrogate Town. Neither team had yet guaranteed survival in Blue Square Bet North and so along with a number of other clubs were hoping to get the points to stay up.

I had been to Corby's old ground last season which I hated due to the fact that they played at an athletics stadium and were as such miles away from the play and there was also very little leg room when seated in the stand, but they have now moved to there new ground directly adjacent to the athletics ground.

On arriving at the ground you are met by a very smart set of turnstiles, as shown below.

Once me and my dad had entered the ground we made our way to get some food where they had a good selection of pies burgers and chips.

Steel park is made up of two stands, the main stand is along one touchline at the half way line and has around 500 seats with Corby made out in white. The other stand is a large terrace at the far end of the ground that stretches the whole width of the pitch. The other end is fully open with hard standing and is home to the snack bar with the other touchline also made up of hard standing that back on to the athletics stadium stand which is home to the teams and officials changing rooms.

The game itself started very slowly and almost nothing happened in the first half so I wont waste your time trying to come up with anything.

The second half though was a different matter altogether with Harrogate's monster centre half, Richard Pell scoring after a goal month scramble within the first 5 minutes of the half. Harrogate were playing by far the best football with Ex Football league player Lee Elam showing his experience and greater ability in pulling the strings down the left. Unlike Corby, Harrogate looked like a team trying to survive in the league and soon went two in front when a good strike from around 25 yards was dropped over the line by the Corby Town keeper who had a poor game throughout.

The third goal was scored from a corner and came from Pell again with a powerful header into the top left hand corner of the goal to end the game as any sort of contest. The game died a bit after that goal although Corby did have one chance, but with an open goal the attacker managed to put the ball at least two yards wide from only 10 yards out and summed up their whole day.

With only a few minutes left Harrogate scored goals 4 and 5. The fourth was a nice curled finish into the bottom right hand corner of the Corby goal from 15 yards but the best goal of the game was the fifth and came in time added on with Harrogate midfielder Tom Platt picking the ball up and smashing it in to the top corner from 30 yards out.

The result in the end didn't mean a lot as relegation rivals Hinckley Town lost meaning that they were the final team to be confirmed as relegated from the Blue Square Bet North.

Overall Corby's new ground can only really be described as clean and functional there was little character or atmosphere created from the small attendance.

That is my season over now but I will be updating my blog with my Olympic exploits in the summer and any other sporting events that I manage to get to. This will be difficult due to me and my wife expecting our first child at the end of May but will try none the less. I will definitely be back next football season though so keep coming back.

Thanks for reading


Friday, 20 April 2012

Glasgow Celtic - Celtic Park

Match - Celtic 2-0 St Johnstone
Competition - Scottish Premier League
Admission - £26 Lisbon Lions Stand (East)
Scarf - £7 Shirt £20
Attendance - 57,848
Food - Chips with Curry Sauce 5/10
Ground No - 109
Ground Rating - 9/10

We (Me, Will, Phil) awoke this morning at a decent time knowing that we didn't have any travelling to do for today's game with Celtic Park being only around a mile and a half walk down London Road from our Premier Inn hotel. therefore we were able to have a casual breakfast and relax before heading for the stadium. On leaving the hotel for breakfast we discovered that almost everyone that was staying at the hotel was also attending today's game as we were greeted by a sea of Green and White shirts.

Today's game was supposed to be the day that Celtic won the SPL title but a slip up in midweek against Rangers and a last minute goal in the previous days game for Rangers against Motherwell left Celtic still requiring 4 points to guarantee the championship. The game was a 12.45pm kick off so at around 11am we left for Celtic Park, the ground was easy to find as it could be seen a fair way down London Road and by following the thousands of hooped shirts.

On arriving at Celtic Park we made our way to the main entrance to the stadium (above) where there are three proud standing statutes of Club legends. The first is of Brother Walfrid who was the founder of Celtic football club there are also Statues of Jock Stein CBE a former Celtic Manager and Jimmy Johnstone a former Player. I have pictures but they don't seem to want to upload properly so may try later.

We then crossed the Car Park and went to the large Club Shop to purchase scarves, I also purchased the Celtic away shirt, this is the only time of the season I buy shirts as they have usually been reduced from the normal £40-£45 to around £20. The shop was packed with a very long queue but with 10 tills in operation we were soon out and on our way to the turnstiles.

As we had seats in the second tier of the ground we had to climb a number of flights of stairs they seemed to be never ending but finally came out into a smallish rather tight concourse and headed for the food kiosk with the usual Pies, burgers and hot dogs on offer. Unlike a lot of large grounds in England they also had chips which I had with Curry sauce. I wish I'd had a burger or a pie.

We made our way to our seats in the top tier of the Lisbon Lions Stand, where we had a great view of the action. Celtic Park is a large, mainly two tiered stadium the only single tiered stand was the South Stand to the left of the above photo, which has what I believe to be a commentary position suspended underneath the roof. The South East corner is home to a very small section that is handed to away supporters which St Johnstone didn't even half fill. The ground also has two large scoreboard under the roof at each end of the stadium.

The game started in lively fashion to the background sound of "You'll never walk alone" as Celtic created a couple of chances early on without really testing the keeper, as the half went on the chances were limited apart from a great chance for Commons which he dragged wide. The most dangerous player for Celtic was Samaras and he caused plenty of problems for the St Johnstone defence especially when he drifted out to the left but was left isolated too often when surrounded by up to 3 defenders. Samaras did have a good shout for a penalty mid way through the first half as he was dragged back at a corner but the referee must have seen things differently. On 19 Minutes there was a terrific standing ovation given in support of Aston Villa's Stilian Petrov, a former Celtic hero, who had just been diagnosed with Leukaemia. The first half then ended with the scores 0-0 and with hopefully a much improved performance in the 2nd half.

The 2nd half started with the visiting side looking the more likely to score with a number of close opportunities helped by the Celtic midfield who seemed to give the ball away every time they managed to get it back. Against the run of play though Celtic took the lead, a free kick from the left was floated into the box and Samaras climbing highest managed to head the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the keepers goal. Samaras deserved his goal for all his hard work but Celtic as a team probably did not. The second came less than 5 minutes later with St Johnstone again on the attack. A foul on the attacker was missed by the officials and Celtic broke quickly and ended with a cross from the right being turned into the net by the defender.

After the second goal Celtic calmed down and played the game out easily keeping the ball away from the St Johnstone players for large periods off time. The game ended 2-0 leaving Celtic 1 point away from winning the title, and with supporters already starting to celebrate.

After the match we made our way back to the hotel and after a quick drink in the pub were in the car for the long drive home straight down the M74, M6 and A14. We were back after a few stops on the way around 11pm.

 The only problem with the weekend was there was a distinct lack of goals and as such my average goals per game has taken a massive hit as it was above 5 per game but as they say "That's Football". Overall though we had a great weekend of football, drinks and laughs and I look forward to my next Groundhopping weekend. Hopefully my Dad will be able to make the next one.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Queens Park - Hampden Park

Match - Queens Park 0-1 Peterhead
Competition - Irn Bru Scottish Division 3
Admission - £12
Scarf - £8
Attendance - 441
Food - Hampden Pie & Chips 8/10
Ground No. - 108
Ground Rating - 4/10

At 8.30am after waking up and having our breakfast in Doncaster following last night match we (myself, Will and Phil) were in the car and on the way to Glasgow for the 2nd instalment of our groundhopping weekend. this was to be my first ever game in Scotland.
The match we were off to was the Division 3 game between Queens Park and Peterhead. Queens Park were still fighting for automatic promotion along with Alloa Athletic and Peterhead were still looking to get a play-off spot. Peterhead are somewhat of a bogey side for Queens who it turns out never managed to beat them in there 4 games last season and haven't managed it in the 3 games yet this season.

The trip north was simple and we also encountered some tremendous views as we went up and over the pennines while travelling West towards the M6 which took us onto the M74 straight to Glasgow. I say the trip was simple until we were on the outskirts of Glasgow itself and on the newly built part of the M74 which my Satnav decided didn't exist and kept trying to make me turn left. It finally found me when I decided to turn off the new road and then took us pretty much straight to the ground.

Queens Park are the oldest football team in Scotland and play there games at the National Stadium, Hampden Park. The stadium holds just over 52,000 and plays host to Scottish Cup Finals and all home Internationals as well as Queens Park home games.

Directly next to the main Hampden Park is the smaller ground of Lesser Hampden Park. This is a small ground with one stand and an artificial pitch, I believe this is used when Hampden Park proper is being used for bigger games i.e Cup Finals etc. It was being used while we were there for a youth team game between Glasgow rivals Rangers and Celtic.

Hampden Park is a large circular stadium with all sides being single tiered and the same height apart from the South Stand which slopes up and has a small second tier. The sitting at either ends is a long way from the pitch, similar to if there was a running track between seating and the pitch. The ground though looks very modern and smart. There are two large scoreboards at either end of the ground which are suspended under the roof. Which were surprisingly used for this game.

As they only average an attendance of around 500 only the South Stand is used for Queens Park games with entrance via turnstiles O & P with entrance being payed on the gate. You enter the ground into a large open concourse like most large stadiums. directly to the right of the turnstiles is a small kiosk that acts as the Queens Park club shop, all three of us purchased scarfs and then made our way to the food kiosk. Prices for food were the same as they would have been for any game played at Hampden Park so as you can imagine were quite high especially considering the level of football a hot dog was £4 and a small soft drink was £2.50 !!!!

We then went to sit in the stand you could sit where you want apart from in the centre of the South stand which was for season ticket holders only as all the seats there were padded, they also seemed to segregate home and away fans which I found surprising as I wouldn't have expected the 40 or so Peterhead fans to have caused any problem if they were mixed with the home fans.

Queens Park Mascot - Harry the Hippo

It was very odd when the players emerged from the tunnel, as there was no fairplay handshake. Even Sunday league football in England have a fairplay handshake before games now. It was even more odd when the whistle blew for the start of the match the whole ground when dead not a sound apart from the sound of boot on ball. It did pick up slightly but I'm not sure that the 50 odd thousand free seats helped the atmosphere much.

The game itself was a poor one with a lack of quality from both teams who both seemed to give the ball away very easily very regularly. The assistant referee also seemed to be rather poor having to be overruled by the referee 3 times within the first 10 minutes or so. The first half then rolled by without any real talking points.

The second half started in pretty much exactly the same way but Peterhead started looking at least slightly threatening and then finally broke the deadlock with the only piece of quality the game had seen up and till that point. The left winger cut in from the left and hit a right footed shot into the far top corner of Queens Parks goal from around 25 yards out. the goal wouldn't have looked out of place in the English Premier League. The game then returned the same level of quality and not much happened until Queens Park made a couple of changes bringing off the number 9 who had been on the end of most of the home fans frustrations. Queens park also brought on a left winger who finally brought some quality and attacking intent to there play and created a number of chances that unfortunately they were unable to take and the game ended with Peterhead taking all three points and leaving Queens still unable to beat them.

I didn't particularly like Hampdenatmosphere, it maybe different for larger games. Although if I was to go for a larger game I would not fancy sitting at one end with that large space between stand and pitch. I believe Queens Park would probably be better off playing there games in a smaller venue possibly lesser Hampden next door, but can understand why they play where they do.

After the game we made our way to our Premier Inn hotel situated at the end of the M74 and a straight walk down to Celtic Park for our game the next day.