Saturday 8 June 2024

2023/24 END OF SEASON REVIEW

THE WYCOMBE WANDERER
2023/24 SEASON REVIEW & AWARDS
 
SUMMARY

Once again, a statistical review of how many games I have seen and the costs. The number of games is nearly 30 less than last season. This is due to several factors - me slowing down, the bad weather and the number of fixtures that were forfeited towards the end of the season - often with little notice given or courtesy shown.   The number of Wycombe games (17) was the lowest I've seen in all of my 33 seasons watching football - aside from the pandemic season where I saw them just twice. It's a far cry from the 2003/04 season when I saw the Chairboys 79 times - including most reserves games and a few youth games.
 
However, there have been some records broken. I've been to 123 new grounds, my best-ever total in a season. The number of countries visited - ten - betters my previous best of seven, set last season. The weather continues to get wetter and wetter, so this as well as my opting to go further afield due to running out of grounds to visit has bumped up the average cost per game.

Looking at costs, the most expensive ticket was Genk v Standard Liege, still very reasonable at £24. I've also had free entry at 65 of my 174 games owing to luck with people not using their Wycombe season ticket and me going to several games at step 7. The total cost of tickets, £732 is my lowest spent in a decade and easily my best on a per-game basis since I've been hopping.
 
The most expensive part has been the travel and accommodation, including abroad seven times. The most expensive by a huge distance. I still don't think I have overpaid though. It has been an expensive year car-servicing wise thanks to my car being the victim of a hit and run and that has been factored into the total. But the further distances travelled for UK games on the train have also not helped. I'm also fed up of having to drive all the time to have very few drivers that live near me. However, Essex-based Dan & Richard have helped a lot. opportunities are still limited by them being 90 minutes (on a good day) away.

Food and drink have also seen the most expensive season on record. This is a strange and complicated formula. For groundhop games, I don't include food or drink that I've regarded as superb or when I've tried new things. For Wycombe games, I charge nothing to my costs if Wycombe win, half if we get a good draw and the full spend should we lose or get a bad draw. Wycombe having several poor games as well as a decline in the quality of food outlets (or perhaps me being fussier) has influenced this. 


2023/24 COSTS
 
Tickets £732
Food & Drink: £898
Travel & hotels: £3.920
Total: £5,500
An average of £32 in total per game

MOST EXPENSIVE OVERALL: Genk v Standard Liege (£96) which was down on my most expensive game of last season. UK-wise, it was York City v Wigan Athletic (£78) due to me driving on my own and having to stay in a hotel. I'm still pleased I got a game in though as the weather was frozen and foggy.

CHEAPEST: Four free games. Penn and Tylers Green v Uxbridge I walked to and it was genuine free entry. Three Wycombe games provided the perfect combo of walking to the game, free entry, good food and good performance. There were games against Leyton Orient, Peterborough United and Charlton Athletic.

WITH/METHOD OF TRANSPORT
Anwar Only: 7
Chris Only: 8 - 
Colin Only: 35 
Multiple Hoppers: 14 (Colin 14, Anwar 13, Dan 1)
Drove on own: 23 
Public Transport: 49
Walked: 18 

2023/24 AWARDS
 
 
BEST NEW GROUND: Artillery Bluebirds
A ground with a great reputation and rightly so. Incredible scenery and a great ground to boot. Ludicrously, our original game was called off due to rain in mid-July only for us to visit on a milder and dryer day in February.
 
 
MOST ENJOYABLE REVISIT: Luton T v Swindon T (FA Youth Cup)
Kenilworth Road is a much-maligned ground and wasn't one of my favourites as an away fan. However, having a nosey around the limited home areas we had access to revealed lots of time capsules and nooks and crannies to get photos of. A new Wetherspoons was a bonus too.

 
BEST ATMOSPHERE: Clapton v St Pauli 
It was the first game of my season and perhaps not the biggest crowd. But the atmosphere was decent in terms of noise and goodwill.
 
 
BEST HOPPING GAME: Brill United 4-5 Halse United
Remarkably, my second nine-goal thriller in a row. This was the best though, a real end-to-end contest in a game that never stopped being entertaining.
 
 
WORST HOPPING GAME: Epsom & Ewell 0-0 Met Police (FA Cup)
No magic here as a truly dire FA Cup contest was played out when I revisited Cobham FC.
 
 
BEST TEA BAR:  Horbury Town
Not many choices here but the chicken kebab was both delicious and healthy. Only a fiver too.
 
 
BEST CLUBHOUSE: Gillingham Town
Again slim pickings and only a Portakabin but Gillingham Town had the best range of cider I encountered all season.
 
 
BEST CLUB SHOP: Whitley Bay
A superb range of programmes and merchandise. Also a great hoodie purchased for £20.
 
 
BEST PROGRAMME: Feltham
Again, limited choice but this programme was handed out free and contained some history articles on the club. It's a super friendly club too.
 
FRIENDLIEST CLUB: CSM London
On a frustrating day where I lost a couple of games due to the weather, CSM London saved the day with their 3G pitch. A last-minute rush but they sought me out, shook my hand and gave me a free pin badge. One of many friendly clubs.

 
BEST WYCOMBE GAME: Wycombe 5-2 Peterborough United
Wycombe blew away Peterborough in a five-star performance, thanks to some help from their goalkeeper. It was brilliant seeing Wycombe-hating journalist Alan Swann going into meltdown as his team crumbled before his very eyes. Swann has had it in for Wycombe ever since a democratic decision was made to end the season early on PPG during the pandemic.
 

WORST WYCOMBE GAME: Wycombe Wanderers 0-3 Exeter City
A truly dire start to the season with us 3-0 down within ten minutes of the season starting. I knew at that point my decision not to buy a season ticket was justified.
 

WORST SATURDAY: 25th May. 
I'm OK with taking a Saturday or two off during June, it's just something you have to accept normally. In fact, I'm doing it out of choice on the 8th despite never having seen a game on that day. But when I was all keyed up for a lovely day in Southend at Wakering Sports, I was gutted when Harold Hill pulled out early morning. I did have a few backups planned, but one by one they fell and I ended up watching the FA Cup Final in a pub. Which is probably what all of the clubs that 'couldn't raise a team' were doing. The Middlesex League was especially chaotic in the latter stages with teams deciding that they couldn't be bothered. A real disappointment when the Premier Divisions should be showcasing the best that each local league has to offer.
 
 
BEST TAKEAWAY: Droitwich Tandoori
A simply sublime Mannkhush curry, one of the best curries I've tasted.
 
 
BEST PUB: The Bull Baiters Inn, Worcester
Sadly situated on the wrong side of town for the station. A great choice of cider and more dogs than Krufts. It's just a shame it only opened at 5 PM as my time in there was very limited due to the walk to the station and my booked train time. It'll definitely be returning if I can in the future.
 
 
BEST WETHERSPOONS: White Hart Hotel, Okehampton
Brilliant choice of real cider, good service. The best of the 77 new Wetherspoons I visited this season.
 
 
WORST WETHERSPOONS: Yr Hen Dderwen, Carmarthen
Awful service, took 30 minutes to get my drink.


Sunday 2 June 2024

Qviding FIF - Valhalla IP


Qviding FIF
Valhalla IP
Valhallagatan 6
412 51 Göteborg
Sweden






Ground Number: 1317
Sunday 2nd June 2024
Qviding FIF 1-0 Hittarps IK
Division 2 Vasta Gotalund







QVIDING FIF HISTORY

Qviding FIF were established in October 1987 following a merger of BK Qviding & Fräntorps IF. The club played at Torpavallen in the Vidkarr district of Gothenburg up until 2008 before moving to their present home of Valhalla IP. This is also shared by IFK Gothenburg Women & Goteborgs FF. The stadium was originally built in 1964 and is situated close the river Mölndalsån and Burgårdsparken of the town. It is named after the Valhalla (Old Norse Valhöll, "Hall of the Slain") is Odin's hall in Norse mythology. The capacity of the stadium is 4,000, with 1,200 seated. Valhalla IP had an artificial pitch added in October 2006. On October 19, 2008, during a football match between Örgryte IS and FC Väsby United, after one minute of play a railing in the stands collapsed when fans celebrated a goal scored by Marcus Allbäck. Up to forty spectators fell down on the terrace a few suffered minor injuries and one spectator was taken to hospital. It also hosted some Sweden national football team games.


The club was in the 4th tier at the time of the merger. In 1993 they won promotion as runners-up from Division 3 Nordvästra Götaland to Division 2 Västra Götaland. They finished as runners-up three times here before winning promotion as champions to the Superettan in 2005, For the next six seasons, they became a bit of a yoyo club between the divisions with a best finish of 10th in 2008. After the final relegation from the Superettan in 2011, they spent several mid-table seasons in the third-tier Division 1 Södra. Financial issues saw the team relegated two levels in 2017 to the 5th tier Division 3 Nordvästra Götaland. They won that in 2018 and then the Division 2 Västra Götaland in 2020 to return to Division 1 Södra but they have since been relegated back to the 4th tier.


MY VISIT

This game was only found by chance when looing through the options on Furbology and the nearby fixtures feature. I originally was thinking I would have be satisfied with just the one game but potentially, I could see three, a fact I only discovered on the Wednesday before. Orgryte IS was the first game I confirmed and bought a ticket for and so it would have to be something near there. Qviding IF fitted the bill almost perfectly, kicking off at 5PM. Although Futbology quoted 0 miles between the two grounds, it actually turned out to be a 20-minute walk from my 3 PM game. Still, it would be madness to go all that way and miss out on a new ground for the sake of missing the first ten minutes. Then, on the Wednesday before the game, I noticed that there was another team, Mossens BK playing at 7PM. Whereas the Danish side  Fremad Valby had got back to me very quickly, I was still waiting for a response from the three Swedish sides I had planned on my trip - Heleneholms, Ariana and Qviding. I was seeking information on admission prices and souvenirs.
Nevertheless, I was still going to attempt to visit them. But this ground had me in a quandary. I could still see one or both games. But I still needed to check in at my hotel and I wouldn't mind an evening meal and drink. I decided to message Mossens BK and see what came of it. Nothing was the answer and so I left it until the day of the game to decide. From my game at Orgryte, it was a pleasant 18 minute walk to the Valhalla IP. After much deliberation, I decided that I'd probably only do the one game, though I did later get the urge to round things up to 175 games for the season. On the flip side, I'd started to wilt and feel tired in the afternoon sun but that soon disappeared once I got to the second game. Entry was 100SEK and my first programme of the weekend was included in the ticket price. The ground was being well used today. As well as the games I'd spotted, there was an Orgryte women's game at 1pm possibly one at 3pm too. When I saw my hotel was 45 minutes walk away though, with not much shaved off by using public transport, I decided to go back and check-in. I had considered doing it between games but opted to come straight here from Orgryte.
Both teams were down the lower end of the table, Qviding in 9th and Hittarps rock bottom in 14th. Qviding had been in decent form recently, winning their last game 5-0 at Kallared SK. Hittarps had not won in eight league games but they'd drawn 3-3 with Jonsereds last time out. I got to the game 11 minutes in, just as Yonaten Yosef gave the hosts the lead. It was a game of not many chances, but it flowed well. There were no further goals and so, that brought the curtain down on my 2023/24 season.
I walked back to my hotel with it taking 45 minutes. I was there by 7.40 and got checked in. I was given a nice upgrade to a river view and the room was probably the nicest I'd had on this trip and had the novelty of being on a boat. With me being neither hungry, not there being much in the way of bars I fancied visiting, I just stayed in my room and chilled whilst I caught on my blogs. I reflected on a season that encompassed 174 games which was a little less than I'd have liked. The very wet weather and excessive amount of teams not bothering to complete the fixtures had been frustrating. One nice aspect was seeing games in ten different countries over the course of the season is something I am pleased with and something I will look to continue next season.

THE GROUND

VALHALLA IP is an excellent venue with a capacity of 4,000. The seated stand is of a 1,700 capacity and has an interesting design, as is the terrace opposite, both have a curved design. There's not much behind either goal but it does have a scoreboard with a rare feature of having letters on it to display the scores from other games. Something that was seen in the UK in the 1970s. There are lots of nice touches. There are basic food and drink facilities and rarely, a programme if you go to Qviding IF. It has lots of parking and there are a few shops within walking distance.

Orgryte IS - Gamla Ullevi


Orgryte IS
Gamla Ullevi
Ullevigatan 5
411 39 Göteborg
Sweden







Ground Number: 1316
Sunday 2nd June 2024
Orgtyte IS 3-0 Gefle IF
Superettan








ORGRYTE IS - A BRIEF HISTORY

The club was founded in December 1887 by Willhem Friberg and participated in the first official football match in Sweden on 22 May 1892; football had been brought to the club by lacemakers from the Newmilns club in Ayrshire in 1891. A memorial on Heden in central Gothenburg exists to commemorate the event. The game saw them beat Lykkan's Soldiers 1-0 in the Gymnastics and Sports Festival at Heden. They dominated the early years of Swedish football, and in 1926 they beat English side Aston Villa 5-2 in a friendly game. They were three times winners of the Swedish League but the late 1930s the fortunes began to decline for the team. They finished 10th out of 12 teams in both 1938 and 1939, and avoided relegation. In 1940 Örgyte IS relegated from allsvenskan to Division II Västra. During the 1940s and 1950s, the team played in Division 2 but would enjoy greater success in the 1950s.  After having financial issues Örgryte Fotboll AB went into bankruptcy in February 2011. The upshot of the bankruptcy was that Örgryte was relegated to the third Swedish division, Division 1 Södra. They've since recovered to climb back to the second tier.


Örgryte IS have won 12 Swedish championship titles and in 2000, the Swedish Cup. Their home arena is Gamla Ullevi. According to a recent survey, Örgryte IS is the third most popular team in Gothenburg, with 11% of the football fans supporting them. The other local teams with a notable following are IFK Göteborg, GAIS and BK Häcken. Their biggest rivalry is with IFK Göteborg. The derbies between the two teams have attracted some of the highest attendance in Swedish football. The fixture attracted 52,194 spectators in 1959, an all-time Allsvenskan record. The other big rivalry is with GAIS.


MY VISIT

With limited football in Malmo on Sunday, I would need to decamp to another part of Sweden. Originally the plan was to go to Norway on Sunday but this was not practical at least by road or rail. Various options were explored and in the end, I decided to go to Gothenburg.A Flixbus was booked for around £15 and would get me into the area just after midday. A decent hotel, the cheapest of the weekend was booked and all in all, it looked like a good trip. My original game choice was BK Hacken but when I checked a fortnight before, Orgryte IS had a game scheduled. This was around a 20-minute walk from my accommodation and had a potential bonus game nearby.
I awoke around two hours before my 7.15 am alarm on the day of the game. I soon got back to sleep and woke when it went off, in fact I'd have liked a little more sleep. I got ready and got my things together before going down for breakfast. It wasn't as good as Scottish or English breakfast but it was still a nice selection of items. The herring and brownies were the highlights. From there, I went and picked up my bag and headed to the Flixbus stop. It was only a few feet from my hotel and 20 minutes ahead of time, it was there waiting for me. This was a relief as in the past I've missed connections through my own choice (snow in Nottingham, opting to take a later train), because of lockdown and when I finally did board a service from Tallinn to Riga, it was an hour late. We were away on time and there was plenty of space to spread out.
We got to Gothenburg well on time and it had been a great service for the money. It was a 20-minute walk to my hotel which was actually a boat. I could only leave my bag for now and not check in. Compared to the building site I'd walked through, it was very pleasant. As it was a locked room, I decided to leave my smaller bum bag in there too even though it contained all of my valuables and passport. I had lots of time to kill, so I headed to BrewDog for lunch. It was on the pricier side, but stuff it, I was enjoying myself. I went for a Group Hug cider which was superb. For food, I went for the Spicy Deluxe burger. Plus another local cider. It came to £36.30 once I'd left a tip but I wasn't fussed as it was all nice. The last day of my 2023/24 season deserved to be seen off in style. From there, it was easy enough to walk the 20 minutes to the ground, I was there and in 30 minutes before kickoff.
Orgryte were rock bottom of the table. They'd lost three in a row, the latest a 3-1 defeat at Sandviken.Their sole win had come against next-bottom Varberg BoIS. Visitors Gefle were in 9th and had won three of their last four games. They'd beaten Orebo 3-1 in their last game. Orgryte had decent home support behind them and dominated early on. It was two goals in quick succession that got them on track. Firstly a penalty from Johnathan Azulay on 21 minutes. Then, a little over a minute later, Edi Sylisufaj got in the end of a move to finish from close range. The game petered out in the heat of the afternoon sun, and Gefle were especially disappointing. Orgryte made sure on 72 minutes, a swinging cross from the left was slotted home by Viktor Lundberg from around ten yards out. That was it as far as scoring was concerned but Orgryte could have added to their scoreline.

THE GROUND

GAMLA ULLEVI is a smart and modern stadium. It has a capacity of 18,500 of which 15,000 are seated. It's not the most attractive stadium but it is quite a practical one. The terraced accommodation is low down behind each goal. A reasonable range of drinks is available, including Rekorderlig Pear Cider for 80SEK. Food is a little more basic although outside are various chains including burger outlet Max. Merchandise is quite limited for Orgryte, just a table with a few random items on and no price list.