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, 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.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Doncaster Rovers - Keepmoat Stadium

Match - Doncaster Rovers 1-3 Birmingham City 30/03/12
Competition - NPower Championship
Admission - £27 (East Stand)
Scarf - £8
Attendance - 8,656
Food - Chicken Balti Pie & Pint £5 - 7/10
Ground No - 107
Ground Rating - 7/10

My apologies for this entry taking such a time to get posted I am moving house and have been without Internet and therefore not able to update.

This was the first game that I was watching this weekend where I also attended my first two games north of the border. It was also my first ever groundhopping weekend. I had been planning this trip for some time and was due to be going with my Dad and Will. Unfortunately my dad had come down with a nasty virus a couple of weeks prior and was still suffering and unable to attend. So at around 4pm me and Will set off for Doncaster, we had managed to invite another friend of ours for the weekend but he could not make the game on Friday due to work but said he would get the train and meet us in Doncaster after the game.

On arriving in Doncaster around 2 1/2 hours later after a very easy drive up the A1 we checked in to our Premier Inn to find that the ground was no more than 200m from the hotel below is the view from Wills room.

After settling in the rooms we decided to go to the pub next door to the hotel for a quick pint. The place was rammed full of Birmingham fans and were a good 3-4 deep at the bar so decided to leave it and went straight to the ground.

After a quick stroll round the ground and a visit to the club shop to buy the mandatory scarf. Will can honestly say he has one from every football ground he has ever visited (this is only his 3rd), we made our way to the correct turnstile and entered and headed straight for the food counter. We both had a pie and a pint for £5.

After eating and drinking we made our way to our seats. The ground is very similar to a lot of modern "bowl type" stadiums and is all seated with all corners filled in looks very smart but quite boring.

The ground is single tiered all the way round with the majority of seats painted red with Doncaster written in white at each end. There are also a number of boxes behind the seats on both the East and West stands which are situated on either touchline, with the West stand having the team dugouts in front of the seats which I would expect would impede some fans views.There are also two small scoreboards in the North East and South West corners at the back of the stands. Away fans are situated in the North Stand and Birmingham City fans brought along a good number of fans for this game.

The match was between two teams who were needing points for very different reasons Doncaster were sitting bottom of the championship and Birmingham were fighting to make sure they get a Play-off place come the end of the season. 

The game itself started very brightly and Donny had managed to quieten the very impressive Birmingham support down when Piquionne, On loan from West Ham nodded in a right sided cross in the first 5 minutes. Doncaster's captain the well known El Hadji Diouf, who was being booed every time he touched the ball, something I'm sure he gets at every ground that he visits, then entered into some friendly banter with the away support. Doncaster won a corner which Diouf went to take right in front of the visiting support. There were Boos from the away section and massive cheers from the home support, Diouf then hid from Birmingham's fans behind the assistant and then the corner flag and finally greeted with huge laughs and cheers from the home support bent down with his rear facing the away end.

Mr Diouf (Centre)
Although Doncaster did play some nice football at times those times were very far a few between and Birmingham started to take control of the game equalising with a scrappy goal from a corner after 15 minutes and the game remained level up until half time.

The second half was all Birmingham though and they made a number of chances before they finally scored the goal they deserved. It was a very good one too, Chris Burke was allowed to run by the Doncaster defenders and cut in from the right and curled the ball in the bottom left hand corner from around 20 yards. the away side then made it 3 with 10 minutes to go when Marlon King, who had been excellent all evening, evaded the offside trap to drill the ball home under the Doncaster keeper.

Birmingham very much deserved there win and I can see why Doncaster are likely to be relegated come the end of the season after watching the second half performance.

After the match we made our way to the Beefeater pub next to the hotel and were joined not long later by Phil, and saw the night out with a few drinks before heading back to the hotel and ready for our early morning start to go to the second game of the weekend in Glasgow 4.5 hours drive from Doncaster.