Wednesday 29 June 2011

Nottingham Forest - The City Ground

Nottingham Forest FC
The City Ground

0115 9824444
Official Website

Ground Number: 22
Nottingham Forest 1-0 Wycombe Wanderers
Tuesday 18th September 1996
League Cup 2nd Round, 1st Leg


1:  The club is one of the oldest in football, having been formed way back in 1865 by a group of local shinty players. They were originally a multi-sport club with Forest's baseball club winning the British championship in 1899. The first football match played was a friendly against local rivals Notts County on 22nd March 1866.

2:  Forest's application to join the Football League in 1888 was rejected, so they instead joined the Football Alliance a year later. Three seasons were spent there, with the club becoming champions in 1892. The Alliance was dissolved that year with all clubs joining the Football League. As champions, Forest was one of three clubs elected to the 1st Division. They've remained there ever since with them being crowned 1st Division champions in 1978 under legendary manager Brian Clough. Their worst ever finishes have come in 1950 when they finished 4th in Division 3 South and in 2006 when they finished 7th in League 1.

3:  The FA Cup was one of the few honours to elude Clough but Forest have won it twice - beating local rivals Derby County 3-1 in 1898 and Luton Town 2-1 in 1959. Their worst showing in the competition came in 2005 as they lost 3-0 at Chester City in the 2nd Round.

4:  The League Cup has been won on four occasions, all under Brian Clough with them lifting the trophy in 1978, 1979, 1989 and 1990.

5:  The club has won the European Cup twice beating Malmo 1-0 in Munich in 1978, then retaining the following season by beating Hamburg 1-0 in Madrid. They also won the European Super Cup in 1979 beating Barcelona 2-1 in a two-legged final.

6:  Other cup wins include the Charity Shield in 1978, the Full Members Cup twice and the Anglo-Scottish Cup in 1977.

7:  Prior to moving to the City Ground in 1898, Forest played at Forest Recreation Ground, Trent Bridge and The Town Ground. The stadium has been an all seated venue since 1994 and hosted games during Euro 1996 for group D teams Turkey, Croatia and Portugal. The highest attendance came in 1967 when 49,946 attended the game against Manchester United, whilst just 4,030 went the League Cup game against Morecambe in 2008.

8: Record appearance holder for Forest is Bob McKinlay who played 692 times between 1951 and 1970. Record goalscorer is Grenville Morris who netted 217 times between 2898 and 1913.

9:  The most international caps received by a Nottingham Forest player is 76, Stuart Pearce making all but 2 of his England appearances whilst at the club

10: Famous Nottingham Forest fans include TV presenter Richard Bacon, actress Su Pollard, Brazillian football manager Luis Philipe Scolari, golfer Lee Westwood, cricketer Stuart Broad and boxer Carl Froch.


Under Brian Clough and in their glory days Notts Forest were used to playing in front of full houses. Even back in 1996 with them mid-table in the Premiership they were getting over 20,000 a game. But the general malaise of the League Cup (or whatever they called it back then, Coca-Cola Cup I think) was well and truly underway. And this was reflected in the attendance of just 6,482, with around a thousand travelling Wanderers. This would have been more had we had a popular manager in charge, but this was the back end of Alan Smith's dismal spell in charge and we were well in the relegation mire. That said, we had done well in the League Cup, already beating local rivals Reading over 2 legs back in August. Despite the unpopularity of the man in charge, Wycombe played well over the two legs and can count themselves unlucky. I can barely remember anything about my day there but I do remember going with a mate from school on the coach.

Despite the Forest fans general apathy towards the game, Forest fielded a full-strength side including the likes of Mark Crossley and Stuart Pearce. Wycombe frustrated their opponents in the first half with some stout defending. Indeed we had the best chance of the first half when Miquel Desouza broke clear, got into a one on one situation but put his shot wide. Forest were duly booed off by their own fans at the interval. 3 minutes after halftime they took the lead with a well-taken goal by Brian Roy. Despite further chances for both sides, the game ended 1-0 to the hosts which set up an intriguing second leg back in Bucks. For the record that game ended 1-1, with Wycombe taking the lead and taking the game to extra time. But Jason Lee (minus his infamous "pineapple" haircut) spared Forest's blushes and killed Wycombe's cup dream by scoring the goal that secured Forest's place in the next round.

I visited the ground again in February 2006, while we were up at Notts County, to take a few photos. They were really friendly and gave us free reign to take whatever pictures we wanted. It was also my mate Paul's wife's Birthday, he let them know and they presented her with a great signed photo, the sort of which you'd be looking at a fair amount if ever it was on sale. The ground hadn't changed much from when I'd last visited, still a very decent ground at any level, let alone League One where they were plying their trade at the time.

VISIT 2: FOREST 2-2 MILLWALL (3/10/18)

I was keen to visit some grounds to update my blog and Nottingham Forest was one of these. With a decent amount of food and drink options around it, it was one of the better days out in football. For some reason, I was not in the habit of doing revisits when I dropped fellow hopper Anwar there in December 2014, option to go to Long Eaton instead. Nearly 4 years later and I was finally able to retick when fellow hopper Chris expressed a desire to go there. We chose the game against Millwall as it was on my week off and all the other options were much longer distance which would not have been ideal with Chris having work in the morning. I started tidying up my blog the day before the game and also doing research into parking and dinner options. On the day of the game, I spent the morning walking down town before getting a lift back with my Dad. I didn't have long after lunch, so just watched a few YouTube videos before leaving at 2.30. Before meeting Chris, I popped to a farm shop he had recommended called Frosts. There I got a few ciders from a brewery near Leek and some snacks. I met Chris just before 4 and we were soon on our way after I'd ordered the tickets on my phone for the Brian Clough Upper Tier. It was a surprisingly good journey and we were parked up outside Notts County by 6. We headed for a pub called The Embankment as there was supposed to be decent real cider. Sadly they were all fruit ones, so I opted for a Castle Rock Raspberry Ripple Fruit Beer. I detest brewers gerrymandering my cider, but I do like a Fruit Beer, having had many great cherry ones in Belgium.

From there we headed back to the ground, getting a beef cob along the way. We got into the ground at 7, having plenty of time to spare before kick off. I caught up online as I waited for kick off. Our seats were decent but there was no atmosphere whatsoever with events on the pitch seeming totally detached from the crowd. The Millwall fans were making all the noise and their team was well on top. But it was Forest who took the lead on 27 minutes with a great strike from just outside the box by Joe Lolley.  Millwall had enjoyed the better of the first half but in the second, Forest seized the initiative. The game gradually petered out and it was only the intervention of a floodlight failure that bought any excitement. The pitch was still well lit, as only one side had done but the referee decided to call a halt to proceedings, taking the players off whilst the fault was fixed. How they could have done with former player Stuart Pearce, not just for his great football skills, but also as he was a qualified electrician who once advertised his services in the matchday programme. It took 10 minutes for normal service to be resumed and when they did, the hosts extended their lead on 70 minutes. A free kick from Joao Carvalho cannoned off the bar and bounced on the line, with the officials awarding a goal. Millwall looked dead and buried by now but they got a deserved goal back on 74 minutes when Shaun Williams headed home. All three points looked to be heading Forest's way but the game had a late twist in the tale when Lee Gregory netted a scrappy equaliser in injury time.

The atmosphere and game had improved a lot after the lights went out, but overall, it was a fair result. Looking at the stats when I got home, Millwall had 20 shots to Forest's 7 but the hosts had 56% possession. It didn't take us long to get back to the car, with us back just after 10. As expected, the traffic was really busy, so it took a while to get away. We were both peckish and so headed for The Big Bamboo, a Chinese takeaway that we had been to when visiting nearby West Bridgford. I had salt and chilli chips and chicken satay skewers, both of which were very nice. After getting a bottle of Irn Bru from a local shop, we left at 11. It was an OK journey home with a diversion due to a closure on the M1 not adding too much time to the journey. After stopping for petrol I dropped Chris off at 12.40, getting home myself at 1.30.


THE CITY GROUND is a great venue which is better than some Premier League grounds. It's an all-seater stadium with a capacity of 30,445. The largest and second newest of these is the Brian Clough Stand - this named in the honour of their greatest manager and is a two-tiered affair. The Trent End is of a similar size and is slightly newer, this is behind one goal. Behind the other goal is the Bridgford End, this is smaller thanks to council restrictions (so that nearby houses get light). Visiting fans get part of the lower tier of this, around 2,000 in total. All these previous stands are pretty modern efforts, whilst the one remaining stand, the Main Stand is a little older but still decent.

The ground is set in a lovely location on the banks of the River Trent and despite it being around a mile from the city and train station there are quite a few pubs around, though these tend to be home fans only. There's a Wetherspoons and a choice of takeaways as the ground is also located close to Trent Bridge cricket ground and Notts County FC. The club shop and tea bar as typical of what you would expect from a Football League club - OK if you are in a fix, but prices have a premium.


Monday 27 June 2011

Rotherham United - Millmoor

Rotherham United FC
Masbrough Street
South Yorkshire
S60 1HW

Milmoor Wikipedia
Tim's 92 Blog
Pie & Mushy Peas Blog

Ground Number: 21
Rotherham United 0-0 Wycombe Wanderers
Saturday 23rd March 1996
Endsleigh League Division 2


1:  Millmoor opened in 1907 and was originally home to the town's other team Rotherham County. County were disolved in 1925 when they merged with the town's other side, Rotherham Town to become Rotherham United.

2:  The record crowd at the venue was in 1920 when 21,000 attended Rotherham County v Sheffield Wednesday. The recently expanded ground had seen renovation the year before and also saw renovation in 1951 and 2004.

3:  Rotherham United's best FA Cup Run came in the 1967/68 season where they took Leicester City to a 5th Round replay before losing 2-0 at Filbert Street.

4:  In 1960/61 Rotherham reached the innuagral League Cup final. After beating Leicester City, Bristol Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Portsmouth & Shrewsbury Town, they faced Aston Villa in a 2 legged final. Despite winning 2-0 in the first leg at Millmoor, they lost the return leg 3-0 at Villa Park and were defeated 3-2 on aggregate.

5:  The club's best ever spell in league football came in between 1951 and 1968. During those 17 years they had unbroken membership of the Football League's 2nd tier, with their best finish of 3rd coming in 1955.

6:  Conversely Rotherham United did not have the best of times in the 25 years after first forming, never leaving the basement division. Their worst finish came in 1934 when only Rochdale kept them off the foot of Division 3 North.

7:  Rotherham United won the Football League Trophy in 1996 defeating Shrewsbury Town 2-1 with a brace from Nigel Jemson. It was their first visit to Wembley and over 20,000 fans from Yorkshire travelled down to the capital to lend their support.

8:  Rotherham United's most successful manager was Reg Freeman. Between 1934 and 1952 his 523 games saw a 48.18% win record. Caretakers adide, Uruguyan Danny Bergara was the least succesful as his spell in charge during the 1996/97 season saw just 14% of games won as the club were relagated from the third tier.

9:  Rotherham United's biggest win came when they defeated Oldham Athletic 8-0 in 1947 while their worst defeat was 11-1 to Bradford in 1928.

10: Rotherham United's last game at Millmoor came on Saturday 3rd May 2008. They beat Barnet 1-0 but financial issues and a failure to reach an agreement with the landlord - former chairman Ken Booth left them with no alternative but to relocate to Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium, 4 miles away. They returned to the town in 2012, paying at the newly built New York Stadium.


My first visit to Millmoor came in 1996 and was around the start that unpopular manager Alan Smith's career at Wycombe had started to unravel. Despite starting the season well with the bulk of Martin O'Neill's squad, Smith's new signings had failed to settle and had disrupted the team's momentum. Add to that the sidelining of fans favourite Paul Hyde and the fact that we had lost 5 out of our last 6 games and you could see why the fans were unhappy.

For the game I travelled with my Dad and my Brother on the Independent Supporters Club coach, though I can't remember much about the game. There wasn't much to write home about in any case as we played out a dull 0-0 draw with the relegation-threatened Millers. We were sat in 12th prior to the game and remained there until the end of the season as the indifferent results continued.

VISIT 2: ROTHERHAM 1-0 WYCOMBE (D2 - 16/09/00)

This game was played in the midst of a petrol crisis as lack of supplies saw long queues at the pumps for those lucky enough to get their hands on what was left, as many stations ran dry. This was all due to truckers being up in arms at the high levels of tax on fuel, which had recently been further increased. This led to them blockading fuel depots and panic buying by motorists. Around 75% of stations ran out of fuel - at the time the costs was 80p a litre which seems very cheap now.

Because of this, the game was in doubt but Motts, who supply the clubs team and supporters coaches assured that they could get us there and back, so I decided to go. For my second successive visit Wycombe failed to score and again it was a dull game. Future Wycombe player Guy Branston got the goal and despite his team mate David Artell getting sent off towards the end, Wycombe were unable to equalise.

VISIT 3: ROTHERHAM 1-1 WYCOMBE (L2 - 19/01/08)

For my final visit to Millmoor I  went with my mates Paul & Sue who had family in Rotherham. We'd decided to do an overnight stop, staying in a local B&B as there was not to much space at their place, and in any case I like my own space. On the Friday night we met up with a load of other people and went on a pub crawl around Rotherham before getting back about 1am.

The following day there was a late breakfast at Wetherspoons followed by a stroll around town before the game. It looked to be the same old story for Wycombe when Stephen Brogan gave Rotherham the lead on 14 minutes. However, Wycombe finally struck a goal at Millmoor after 4 hours of me watching them there when Scott McGleish's cross-cum-shot flew in from the left. McGleish was in great form at the time, having recently scored all 4 goals at Mansfield as we coasted to a 4-0 win in torrential rain.


From the outside MILLMOOR looks an unwelcoming venue, at least around the away end. Surrounded by scrapyards there was also jagged glass on the tops of all the walls around the stadium, obviously to stop people getting in. But it was at least a proper football ground and once you got inside it looked fairly well kept. It also had a fairly decent location, within easy walking distance of the town, though I normally stayed in the vicinity of the stadium, using the Milmoor Cafe and club bar.

The MILLMOOR LANE STAND and adjacent COMMUNITY STAND was the only side that remained pretty much unchanged during my various visits. It consisted of the older Millmoor Lane Stand on the left, then the newer Community Stand on the right. Some of the latter was used for away fans seating prior to the ground being converted to an all-seater stadium.

The two stands behind each goal - the TIVOLI TERRACE at the far end and the RAILWAY END which was the designated stand for away supporters were originally covered terraces but had been converted to all seated stands after my first visit. They held around 2500 apiece, falling to around 1800 following their conversion.

The remaining side - The MAIN STAND saw the biggest change between my 2 visits. In 1996 it was an old but perfectly decent stand, but upon my return, it had been torn down and replaced by a work in progress. The new stand never was fully completed, so it was a fruitless exercise in all honesty. 

Crewe Alexandra - Gresty Road

Crewe Alexandra FC
Alexandra Stadium
Gresty Road

Ground Number: 20
Crewe Alexandra 2-0 Wycombe Wanderers
Saturday 20th January 1996
Endsleigh League Division 2


The club was founded in 1877 and was initially known as Crewe FC. They spent their formative years in non-league, plying their trade in the Combination, the Birmingham Alliance and the Birmingham & District League. In 1921 they were founder members of Division 3 North, their best finish here being 6th, achieved on a few occasions. After three consecutive rock-bottom finishes, Crewe Alexandra became members of the newly established Division 4 in 1958. Aside from 1968/69, where they'd finish 23rd in Division 3, Crewe remained here until 1989. Since then, the club's form has varied wildly, though the majority of the time has been spent in the lower two tiers. Crewe enjoyed a decent amount of time in the second tier under Dario Gradi in the late 90's and early 2000's, the best finish coming in 1998 when they finished 11th. They last played there in 2006 and the last couple of seasons have seen them back in the basement division and not looking like they are going to return anytime soon.

Early seasons in the FA Cup had contrasting fortunes - their first ever game in 1883 seeing a 10-0 defeat to Scottish side Queens Park. By the 1887/88 season though, they were semi-finalists, beating Swifts, Derby County and Middlesbrough before a 4-0 defeat to Preston North End at Anfield. In more recent times, they reached the 5th Round in 2002, losing out to Everton after a replay. They've also suffered the ignominy of first-round defeats to Tamworth and Eastleigh in the last decade. The best run in the League Cup has been the 3rd Round whilst Crewe won the Football League Trophy in 2013, defeating Southern United 2-0 at Wembley Stadium. Local cup wins include the Cheshire Senior Cup on seven occasions, the Cheshire Premier Cup twice and the Welsh Cup on two occasions.

Players produced by Crewe Alexandra have been numerous and include David Platt, Neil Lennon, Robbie Savage, Danny Murphy, Seth Johnson, Geoff Thomas and Dean Ashton. Sadly the club have also been involved in the recent sexual abuse scandal that engulfed football, with pervert former coach Barry Bennell being the main perpetrator, mainly back in the 1980's. The club's main rivals are Port Vale, with the two sides enjoying some fiery clashes in recent years. Wrexham, Shrewsbury Town. Stoke City, Stockport County and Chester City have also been arch enemies in the past. The population of Crewe itself was 72,863 according to the last census, the main industry being in the railways, hence the club's nickname of the Railwaymen.


My first visit to Gresty Road came in January 1996. I went with my Dad and my brother with us travelling on the Independent Supporters Club coach. I was not of drinking age at the time which is the same as I remember the pub we stopped at, The Rising Sun in Audley was pretty decent. My research tells me that the pub brewed it's own beers and sadly closed in 2001. My only memory was the excellent chips, the only real pleasure I could enjoy at that time. Crewe Alexandra were producing some great players at the time and named Neil Lennon in the starting lineup and Robbie Savage on the bench. Crewe were 2nd in the league at the time, whilst Wycombe under the odious Alan Smith were treading water in mid-table. A dreadful first half performance saw Wycombe two down at the break, the first goal coming from Mark Rivers when his shot squirmed under on-loan keeper Ben Robert's body. The second from Neil Lennon was contested by Wycombe, but was ruled over the line. The second half performance was much improved, with a John Williams goal ruled out as well as a Steve McGavin penalty miss, but in any case, we came home empty-handed.

My next few visits proved equally fruitless. My only midweek visit in 2003 meant a trip on the official coach and I was amazed when a round for me and my mate Adam in the local pub cost less than £3. It was another defeat for Wycombe though. Despite manager Lawrie Sanchez being hailed a hero a year or so before, his reign had begun to unravel and fans were starting to lose patience. Dean Ashton gave Crewe the lead, but Johnny Dixon equalised for Wycombe. We generally played poorly though and were back behind when Kenny Lunt converted a penalty. Further goals from Rob Hulse and Dean Ashton ensured Crewe of the win, despite a great 25-yard goal from Dannie Bulman, it was three defeats in a row for the Chairboys. The next two games were for heavy defeats - 2011 for a 3-0 league defeat and then the following year for a 4-1 defeat in the FA Cup 1st Round. I drove the second time and at least had a pre-match drink in the Belgium Hops bar, my tweet about the place ironically being picked up by my former teacher who I'd not seen for 15 years.

VISIT 5: CREWE 2-3 WYCOMBE (L2 20/1/18)

At the beginning of the season, I vowed to visit all the grounds that I'd not been to for a while and reblog them. I'd accomplished this more often than not - only missing out on Newport County, Mansfield Town and Stevenage so far. Incredibly, I'd dodged a trio of goalless draws for various reasons - it's not often that I have luck like that, but I was glad that I didn't go. to any of them. Initially, when I'd been planning games at the start of the season, I'd wanted to go to Crewe on the train. There were so many great pubs there and I wanted to sample some more of them. After careful consideration though, I decided to take the Independent Supporters club coach to the game. It would take the inconvenience and expense out of the train travel and the pub arrangements were not all bad. I'd get picked up a few minutes away from my house and the coach stopped in Bignall End which had excellent establishments for food and cider, albeit in two separate places. I spent the previous week writing up my blog for old visits to Crewe and also planning in future revisits to Leighton Town and Kidderminster Harriers, the latter via train once the weather was confirmed as OK. The night before was a light one drink wise, just a couple of pints and an early night.

Annoyingly, I woke just after my normal work time on the day of the game and couldn’t get back to sleep. After watching videos and browsing the net for a bit, I got up at 7am, having a bath and breakfast. At 8.10, I got my stuff together and went down the local shop. After buying a Daily Star, I went back to the coach pick up point, having to run the last 200 meters as the driver was 5 minutes early. I met up with my Mum & Dad and soon enough we were on our way. After picking everyone up, the coach was still half empty, but at least it meant that I’d get a double seat to myself. The usual process of ordering food went ahead, I was disappointed to see that the Thai Green Curry had disappeared off the menu, but ordered a nice looking chilli burger instead. Given the extra space I had, I wish I’d bought my laptop, but at least I had plenty to keep me entertained. I cracked on with today’s blog and started to research Leighton Town’s history for my revisit on Tuesday. It was a right miserable day, with rain and sleet. As you’d expect, games were being called off left, right and centre. I was glad that my option was fairly safe, though I still double checked for any news of a pitch inspection. After a brief stop at services, we were on our way, arriving in the village of Bignall End just after midday.

When we got to the pub, there was a bit of a disappointment. Two people had phoned in sick, meaning the landlord was on his own at the bar and his wife on their own in the kitchen. It was all very friendly, but I was glad that the coach was sparsely populated as I was hoping for an early dinner. I wasn't in luck, with me having a Strongbow and a Strongbow Dark Fruits during the wait. I did eventually get to the other pub, the Swan with half hour to spare. There I had pints of Roundabout Medium cider and Appleshed. My drinking time had been curtailed but I place no blame on the people at the first pub, they'd just been let down by flaky staff. The chilli burger was decent, one of the better meals I’d had on our coach, but soon it was time to go. I legged it up to our coach, getting on just before it left. It wasn’t long to Crewe, around 20 minutes with us getting there at 2.30. There was a faff for 10 minutes as the stewards refused to let us off the coach. They were bemused that we didn’t have a policeman on our coach, I don’t know why, last time I checked, being a football supporter is not a crime.

Straight into the ground we went, the report from ESPN is above for reference. It looked the same old story first half - a combination of the usual lacklustre performance and a rushed liquid lunch had me almost falling asleep. The second half was better, substitutes changing the game around and giving us the lead. It looked as if we might have was it settle for the draw when Crewe equalised near the end and I’d have been a richer man as I pulled 2-2 on the pre-match sweepstake. But I was glad to give that money up when Craig Mackail Smith got the winner 5 minutes into injury time. It was just about deserved, a dramatic last quarter in a game that had failed to live up to the 3-2 scoreline. After a quick visit to the toilet, it was back on the coach and homebound. I’d have loved a few pints in Crewe, but with work in the morning, the mediocre drink choices back home would have to do. My feet were soaked through, so I spent the whole of the journey home barefoot. At least the journey home didn’t feel like a long one, especially when I had Danny Kelly to listen to on TalkSPORT. There was a 20 minute stop at Warwick services but even so, we were back home by 8.30. I had a couple of drinks while watching YouTube and other videos until Match Of The Day came on, before going to bed around midnight.


GRESTY ROAD is a fairly decent ground and good views are offered from all seats. Three of the stands are all around the same height, but only provide 3,000 out of the 10,000 capacity. Away supporters were originally given the Wulvern Homes Stand on my first visit, but now they get the Whitby Morrison Ice Cream Stand, capacity 1,680. This offers reasonable views. The only stand that has changed is the new main stand. This replaced an older structure in between visits 1 & 2 and is huge with a capacity of 7,000. Food inside the ground is the usual dull selection of overpriced and bland options. Opposite the ground is an excellent chippy - if you are in a rush, you are much better off eating there.

Crewe also has a rarity at a football league ground - a programme shop. Run by the supporters, it offers a great selection of programmes at reasonable prices. Just 15 minutes walk away is the town centre - this is excellent and offers a wide range of places. Many are well worth a visit. Due to driving duties, my visits have been restricted to the Belgian Hops bar, but what a place it is. A great range of ales, Belgian beers and real ciders await. It's a nice place for a pre-match pint and prices are reasonable too.