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.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Lamex Stadium - Stevenage FC

Match - Stevenage 4 - 2 MK Dons
Competition - N Power League 1
Admission - £19 East Terrace
Scarf - £9
Att - 3,345
Food - Hot Dog, Chips 6/10
Ground No - Revisit
Ground Rating - 7/10

Originally tonight we were supposed to be going to see the Southern league Division 1 Central clash between Woodford Utd and Uxbridge but due to some light rain the game was called off because of a waterlogged pitch. What ever happened to non-league football being played on what are basically muddy fields?

So at 4pm I was online working out what other games were on that were within reasonable travelling distance. The game that was decided upon was the top of the table match between local ish rivals Stevenage FC and MK Dons.

Joining myself and my Dad this evening was my former work and fellow cricket team mate Will "Thief" Harmer who has decided that he is to join us on more hops in the future since his first at Upton Park at the end of last season. The nickname is due to Wills conviction for stealing the pen that signed the Zulu treaty from his place of work at the Cambridge University Library a fair few years ago now. the pen was returned safely after having been grassed up by an ex girlfriend.

I had been to Stevenage a number of times before so unfortunately I wasn't going to be adding another ground to my list. My previous visits though were both as an Assistant Referee back when Stevenage were in the Conference Premier, when they were also known as Stevenage Borough a name they dropped on promotion to League 2 a couple of seasons back. After having been promoted again to League 1 they have started very well and before this game found themselves fighting for a play-off place along with their opponents who were only 1 place above them in the table.

On getting to Stevenage the ground is easily found being well signposted off of the A1(M) and parking is easy with a large free car park on the opposite side of the road to the back of the North Stand. Although you take your life in your own hands when crossing the 2 lane road to get to the ground.

Stevenage's Lamex Stadium formally Broadhall Way before sponsorship is a neat and tidy small ground with a capacity of just over 7000. The main stand is the West Stand and is a fully seated single tiered stand covering the full length of one touchline. This stand is also home to the clubs offices,changing rooms and the club shop where me and Will purchased scarves for the reasonable price of £9.

Opposite is the large East Terrace again spanning the whole length of the touchline this is where we were watching this evenings game from and is also home to what seemed to be the louder of Stevenage's support including the lads with the drums who would lead the chanting throughout the 90 mins.

The far end is the fully seated South stand that houses up to 1400 away fans and an electronic scoreboard on the roof this stand was built in 2001 and is the newest stand at the Lamex stadium the other end is a small terrace stand for home fans.

The game itself started very brightly and Stevenage could have taken the lead inside the first 30 seconds but the cross from the right hand side was just out of comfortable reach for the attacker. Then with MK Dons first attack of the match they took the lead when Chris Day in the Stevenage goal parried out a cross from the right straight in to the path of former Stevenage loan player Jay O'shea to blast the ball in from 10 yards.

The goal silenced the Stevenage crowd who were creating a very good atmosphere and for the next 20 minutes the game went rather flat until from nowhere Stevenage No.24 Michael Bostwick hammered the ball in the bottom left hand corner of the dons goal from at least 30 yards a stunning goal that wouldn't have looked out of place at the top level.

The second half started slowly with nobody being able to really keep hold of the ball and the atmosphere had died down again until Stevenage right back Lawrie Wilson was upended by MK Dons Mathias Doumbe who having already been cautioned was shown his 2nd yellow and given his marching orders. It really was a ridiculous tackle to make when already on a yellow and the fact the player was going nowhere.

Not only were the Dons now down to 10 men but the resulting free kick led to Stevenages 2nd goal and not long after that went 3-1 up and that virtually ended the game as a contest. For the rest of the match the Stevenage fans were excellent singing non stop with the drums complementing the fans voices with constant noise. The best coming when they started chanting "Who needs a manager". The support produced by the Stevenage fans is a credit to the club and led to my surprise when the attendance was announced at just under 3500, as it seemed that there was at least 4500-5000 inside the stadium.

There was still time for 2 more goals in the last 10 minutes where MK Dons pulled one back but Stevenage struck straight back to reopen the 2 goal cushion when my Man of the Match Darius Charles caused a defender to put the ball into his own net.

So the match finished 4-2 to a very good looking Stevenage team although were very much helped by the sending off. Another 6 goals as well for us this season keeping our average goals per game up above 5.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Manchester United - Old Trafford

Date: 31/12/11
Match: Man Utd 2 v  3 Blackburn Rovers
Competition: Barclays Premier League
Food: Pea soup - Rib Eye Steak,Bubble & Squeak,Poached Egg - Bread & Butter Pudding
Att: 75,146

This is a match that I had been looking forward to for a while, this is mainly due to the fact that my Dad had managed to blag free hospitality tickets from someone at work.

Today's game was an early Kick off (12.45PM) so at 5am my Dad was outside my house ready to go, for this match my Wife Beth and Mum were joining us, must be something to do with the hospitality and luxury seats that come with the tickets as I haven't seen them remotely interested when we have been of to the likes of Stamford on a chilly Tuesday night.

The first thing we did on reaching the ground was to have a look around the outside of the stadium and find the club shop, I buy a scarf at every ground I visit and my Dad buys a hat at every premier league ground.

Outside the East stand are statues of some of Uniteds great including the one of Law, Best and Charlton unfortunately all played well before my time, I would have loved to have seen them play though.

So at 9.45am we entered the stadium and to the Evolution Suite in the North East Quadrant where we were instantly offered Champagne, proving it's not just Christmas where drinking first thing in the morning is acceptable and with a free bar there was a few more drinks throughout the day.All guest in the Evolution suite receive a small bag with a gift and programme. The worst thing about this being an early kick off was the fact that in the suite there is a full 3 course meal so at just gone 10am I was eating pea soup followed by a steak main and Bread & butter pudding with custard all being washed down with a couple of pints of Worthingtons. I'm sorry but at 10am that just didn't seem right. We then were introduced to former Manchester United legend Sammy Mcilroy, another one well before my time but my Dad knew of him.

My dad grew up as a United fan and first went to see them at West Ham in 1971 I think and after that decided would never go and see them again as they lost and went on to lose the following 11 matches having led the division by 5 or 8 points nobody could remember. So after speaking to Sammy we finally worked out why that happened, the week before the West Ham game the were away at Southampton and straight after that game the squad went off to Jersey for a 5 day training session/Piss up. Sammy being only 17 at the time was unable to go and had to return to Manchester to play for the youth team.

So after all this pre match treatment we left the suite to go and find our seats which were very comfortable due to the padding and gave a very nice view of the playing area.

Mum,Beth,Dad Respectively

So to the match which to be far wasn't the best United were poor especially at the back, but still they controlled pretty much the whole game but got to the edge of the area and stopped. Then with Blackburn's first punt into the Utd box Berbatov decided to yank Samba to the ground and rightly a penalty was given we Yakubu easily converting. This was the first time in two and a half years of groundhopping we had seen a converted penalty kick.

At half time we were back in the suite for tea and coffee and sandwiches so therefore joined Roy Keanes beloved Prawn Sandwich Brigade. unfortunately by the time we managed to get back out into the stadium the 2nd half had already kicked off but were still sitting down in time to see Utd gift Yakubu a second goal.

Utd finally decided to wake up with Bebatov leading Utd charge scoring his first almost straight away and then again not long after to bring the game level, at the point like the rest of the game it was only Utd who looked like scoring. Until De Gea struck again by flapping at a ball from a corner that he didn't need to come for and getting nowhere near it leading to Blackburn third and ultimately winning goal.

Nobody really deserved to win the game both teams were poor it was like watching defence v attack Utd doing all the attacking for pretty much the whole 90 mins, who then decided to gift Blackburn all 3 of their goals from I think the only three times they got near Utds goal.
South Stand and Stretford End

So to the stadium it is a wonderful stadium with plenty of character and a great atmosphere. It has 3 large 2 tiered stands the newly named Sir Alex Ferguson Stand where we were seated the East Stand and the Stretford End with one smaller single tiered stand being the South Stand. Our day out at Old Trafford was very enjoyable may have helped having been in the hospitality suite but reckon watching any game in any stand at the Theatre of Dreams would be an enjoyable experience.

Ground- 8/10 - let down by the South Stand looks out of place being smaller than the other three.


Thursday, 5 January 2012


Welcome all to my first blog detailing my groundhopping. firstly I will give you some background knowledge into who I am and why I do what I do.

My name is Matt Fisher and I am 23 years old from Cambridge, I am a sports fan simple as that I will watch and participate in pretty much any sport I can. My main two sports though are the beautiful game of Football and the gentlemans game of cricket. I play both for local villages, Football for Waterbeach mainly the Reserve team in the Cambridgeshire County League and am captain for Willingham CC also in the Cambs League so my Saturdays throughout the year are quite full.

So why groundhopping? a question many people ask me when I mention that I do this. Well firstly I was a football referee up until 3 seasons ago. I was a level 3 and therefore running the line in the Blue Square Bet Premier Division and refereeing anything from Eastern Counties League Football up to the Conference North and South. After becoming disillusioned with the way the FA was being run and having a life that was becoming increasingly busier I decided to hang up the whistle and start playing again where all I had to do was turn up on a saturday and not worry about it for the rest of the week, unlike refereeing which even at that level is almost like having another full time job.

I also realised that one of the most enjoyable parts of refereeing was the visiting of new grounds and stadiums and therefore once I gave up refereeing I decided groundhopping was for me.

I go to all my games with my Dad and on the odd occasion my Brother and on even less occasions my wife and Mum may tag along, so far only once maybe some time before this happens again. I try to go to at least one game a month maybe more if possible.

As you will be able to see I have listed all the football grounds that I have currently been to on the tab above most were during my time as a referee. I hope that you will enjoy future posts and will follow my exploits around the country.