Friday 30 September 2011

Aston Villa - Villa Park

Aston Villa FC
Villa Park
Trinity Road
B6 6HE

0121 327 2299

Matchday Number: 57
Sunday 8th April 2001
Liverpool 2-1 Wycombe Wanderers
FA Cup Semi Final


Aston Villa were founded in 1874 and have been a top division club for most of their history, being founder members of the Premier League and members of the top flight since 1988. On almost every occasion that they have been relegated they have bounced back in convincing fashion with the only extended period away coming between 1967 and 1975 with the club even dropping down to the third tier for a couple of seasons during this time. Ron Saunders was the main to spearhead the recovery bringing Aston Villa their 7th and to date latest league championship in 1981 along with a Charity Shield and 2 League Cups during his 8 year tenure. The 
European Cup and European Super Cup were won a few months after he was sacked for a poor showing in the league. The FA Cup has been won 7 times with the last success coming in in 1957 when they beat Manchester United in the Final.

Aston Villa's main rivals are Birmingham City, though the 'Second City Derby' has not been played as much in recent times owing to the Blues relative lack of success. Instead West Bromwich Albion have replaced them as the main rivalry in the league. Famous supporters include Prince William, Tom Hanks, Lee Child, Ozzy Osbourne, Simon LeBon and when he is not confusing them with West Ham or another claret and blue team - Prime Minister David Cameron. Though the one I like most is fictional - Lennie Godber, Fletcher's cellmate in Porridge.This was revealed in the episode 'A night in' even referring to a 1968 FA Cup 4th Round tie against Rotherham United.

When I was up in court and Villa looked like doing well in the cup, I prayed
But I don't know, it didn't seem to work out
I got probation and Villa lost to Rotherham one nothing.


My first match at Villa Park was Wycombe's famous FA Cup Semi Final against Liverpool. The Chairboys had performed miracles to reach the Semi Final, beating several bigger clubs along the way.

It all started with a first round tie against Isthmian League Harrow Borough. In a routine victory the Blues won 3-0. The main talking point of the match was the appearance of 49 year old Barry Silkman from the bench for the non league visitors. Then manager Lawrie Sanchez saw the obvious, it was a publicity stunt, pure and simple. Silkman took exception to this and said he could have lasted the whole 90 minutes and offered to bet Sanchez that he could race him any distance from 50M to 8 miles and still win. The bet to my knowledge has never been taken up. Silkman also accused his former club of being 'ordinary' but goals from Jamie Bates (2) and Michael Simpson saw them through safely.

Then, a tough test awaited Wycombe. An away tie at Millwall is tough at the best of times and Wycombe were outsiders to win. But they managed to get a 0-0 and despite  a goal in the replay from Joe Dolan, goals from Andy Rammell and a great overhead kick from Paul McCarthy saw Wycombe through. After missing the away leg due to work I was glad to be present in the replay where we triumphed 2-1.

Grimsby at home was the uninspiring 3rd Round draw, though it did give Wycombe their best chance ever of reaching the 4th Round. They must have thought their chances had gone after a 1-1 draw in Bucks, but in the replay at Blundell Park, Wycombe put in a great performance to win 3-1 before a crowd of just 3267. I'd hoped to go to the replay but work meant I wasn't able to make it.

The reward for progressing to the 4th round for the first time ever was a home tie against the other WWFC - Wolverhampton Wanderers. In the first real shock of the run Wycombe triumphed 2-1 after fans had been called upon to clear the snowbound pitch to get the game on. Andy Rammell memorably scoring and then diving in the snow.

Wimbledon at home were next up. This was before they were thrown out of the Football League and reformed as AFC Wimbledon. After an exciting 2-2 draw at Adams Park, we made our way to Selhurst Park for a night that will live long in the memory.  The travelling support from Wycombe almost outnumbered the home side and the reward for the winners was a quarter final game at Leicester.  If the drama of the first 90 minutes was not enough where both sides shared a 1-1 draw and Michael Simpson was sent off after 60 minutes then the injury time certainly was. Wimbledon were awarded a penalty in the very last minute. Step forward Martin Taylor who pulled off an amazing and dramatic save to take the tie to extra time. But moments into the first half, Wimbledon took the lead. Wycombe looked dead on their feet and certain to be going out but in the 119th minute Paul McCarthy popped up with a late equaliser. Cue an even more dramatic penalty shoot out, where after 10 penalties each, Martin Taylor stepped up to score the winner and put us through to Filbert Street.

The quarter final game against Leicester was the most famous victory of them all, I'll leave Sky Sports to tell the story, as they can cover the match better than I could in words. What I do remember is falling down about 7 rows of seats when we scored but not really caring. The back in Wycombe I remember me sitting on my mates shoulders as he carried me round one of Wycombe's many poor pubs, with me not realising that my 'dance' was causing me to knock ceiling tiles down which luckily were soft as they were hitting other revellers. Next thing I know I was on a shoulder that wasn't my mates as the bouncer carried me outside. I got myself a kebab and got a taxi home, still reasonably sober! 

And so onto the memorable day at Villa Park. I actually went up with my Liverpool supporting workmate. Alex. We made Villa Park from Wycombe in 45 minutes as he had a hire car and drove at 140MPH all the way up! Upon arriving at Villa Park and parking up in a nearby street we were cornered by local youths saying they'd "look after our car" for £3. My mate said he wasn't bothered as it was a hire car!. Luckily nothing happened to it, despite the veiled threat After a couple of drinks in the packed pub with some friendly Liverpool fans, we took a walk around the various fanzine and T-Shirt sellers and snapped up a few mementos. In the pub, the Liverpudlians didn't like up to their unfair stereotype. We couldn't get to the the bar - we had to hand our money over about 10 people in the crowd, along with our drinks order. Back came what we had ordered, along with our change, putting to bed the myth that Scousers would nick the wheels off a jumbo jet if it flew too low!

Eventually it was time to go into the ground. The Holte End was a sea of light and Dark blue as 20,000 Wycombe fans made their way to the game. It was deadlocked until 78 minutes. In the time before that Wycombe could have even had a penalty, but the referee missed Marcus Babbel's handball in the area. Then 12 minutes from time Liverpool scored with a great free kick from Robbie Fowler. Minutes later it was 2 when Emile Heskey scored. On 88 minutes though, Wycombe had their moment of glory and it couldn't have fallen to a more appropriate man to deliver it. Club stalwart Keith Ryan had the composure to lob Sander Westerveld to give the scoreline a more fair outlook. It was the end of an amazing story and as the players swapped shirts, applauded by one and all, everyone knew that this was one Wycombe team that would never be forgotten. My only regret was that there were no digital cameras or camera phones back then as it would have been nice to get some pictures of a great day.


I can't even remember why I bothered going to this, as I'd already been and wasn't really a groundhopper at the time. In any case, following a typical crap performance by Wycombe against their bogey team Blackpool, I travelled up to Birmingham on the Saturday night, as he was a student up there. His accommodation was  in a place called Handsworth, one of the most run down areas of Birmingham. The local pub was actually a cracker though, called the Grove. Once you'd got past the unglamorous outside and furnishings, the fare inside was a lot better. I had a fantastic green curry on a freshly cooked naan which at £3 was both a bargain and delicious. All washed down with a pints of Scrumpy Jack for £1.75 each before going back to my brothers gaff to watch 'The Premiership' which was at the time ITV's lamentable replacement for Match Of The Day, after they won the rights for the highlights package.

It speaks volumes for my selective memory that I remember sod all about the following game, apart from that as with the FA Cup Semi Final 3 years previously I was seated in the Holte End. I do remember Arsenal winning 2-0 to carry on an unbeaten run which at that point was 22 games and it went on to 49 games before a defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford. On the day it was 2 Thierry Henry goals that saw them through, one a cleverly taken free kick and the other a penalty. After the game I got the train back home, having work the following morning, back in the happy days when I got weekends off work.  


Having drawn 1-1 at Adams Park in the original tie, Wycombe had done themselves proud and the club had earned a decent amount, what with the gate money and the game being live on BT Sport. Villa were without a win in ages but when they went ahead through a well taken Micah Richards goal and looked to have ended Villa's dud run, but Joe Jacobson had other ideas and equalised with a well taken penalty. Considering we had around 4 players out, including first choice keeper Matt Ingram, who'd been sent off the previous week and was suspended for the game. Not that some of the travelling Villa support agreed, arguing with captain Micah Richards on the touchline and subjecting their under performing players to a torrent of abuse while they boarded the coach and laughed at their own fans.

This must have shocked them into action as in between the 2 games they had remained unbeaten - beating Crystal Palace at home and drawing away at league leaders Leicester City. Wycombe themselves only had a 1-0 defeat to Hartlepool in the ensuing gap but hopes were still high of an upset. So much so that over 4000 fans would be going up for the replay, with the ticket prices of £10 and £15 having a lot to do with it. I'd wanted to go up on the train and have a day in Birmingham and it's many great pubs but the crap service offered by Chiltern Railways put the kybosh on that with the returning trains to Wycombe stopping well before the time supporters would need to be heading for home. Instead I booked on the Independent Supporters Club coaches which always stop at a pub with food en route, while the official supporters club were taking 20 coaches, with the less than glamorous stop being at a motorway service station.

I'd wanted to take my bridge camera to Villa Park to get some decent pictures. I'd emailed Aston Villa and credit to them for their speedy reply but the answer was no, it wasn't allowed in. I'd guessed this would be the case, which is why I prefer the non league game, without it's long list of rules and regulations. I'd had a good night's sleep on the Monday as per usual and did my mandatory Tuesday walk down town. There I got some stuff to take on the coach as well as some fruit. I'd picked up some grapes and cherries at what was supposed to be 2 for £3 but Morrisons refused to honour the deal as they claimed that you couldn't mix and match despite the notice saying that you could. I'd already eaten the cherries by the time I'd noticed my receipt, and would have asked for a refund if I hadn't. Try as I might I couldn't get the difference back and so now I will take it to their online customer services, and if no joy, trading standards. I got back home to a shed load of parcels from 28 games that I'd ordered on CEX with the whole lot costing little more than £15. The postman must have loved me and  he's got more work coming as I still have a third of my order to come!

After coming home I had lunch and chilled until it was time to leave for the coach at 2.30. There was drama before we'd even left Wycombe with indies regular Chris Perrin missing the coach as he was running late. He'd asked us to wait for him, but after 5 minutes delay he'd pushed his luck too far and we were on our way. The menus were handed out and showed much promise with me plumping for the American Craft burger and I was hoping for the cider situation to be the same. We arrived at 4.40 after a small delay on the motorway. The cider situation was better than most, no real ciders but lots of choice. I had my usual Thatchers Gold to start off. I learned that I'd caused some upset to the landlord of the pub we had stopped at Luton after he'd taken umbrage at my honest review on Trip Advisor. The food was great and I even had a new 'cider' though the Bulmers Zesty Orange was disappointing. For the third pint I had Symonds and that left me in a good mood for the game. The journey to Villa Park took longer than expected due to heavy traffic but we made it just in time for kick off. We were not helped by some 'events team' holding us up for 10 minutes then making us walk half a mile to the ground like the oafish bunch of glorified traffic wardens that they are but after getting a 'match scarf' for a fiver I got to my seat a few minutes into the game. The match report from the Daily Star is below.

The night was a good one with a terrific atmosphere from the Wycombe fans with well over 4000 there. The team did us proud too, outplaying Villa in parts. Matt Ingram barely had a save to make and it was us in fact that had the better chances. It wasn't until the 75th minute that we went behind but by that time we were looking very tired. In the end we lost 2-0 which was a bit harsh given the effort put in by the team. We were kept locked in the ground for 10 minutes after the game, either that or the small concourses below struggled to cope. With traffic the coach didn't get going till 10.30, but the journey home was a decent one. After a couple of drop offs in the Wycombe area I was dropped at the end of my road at around 12.20. As usual I was wide awake and it took me ages to drop off. I only got an hours sleep before getting up at 4am for work, meaning the standard nap the following afternoon.

VILLA PARK has a 42,785 capacity and is one of the best in the Premiership, being the largest stadium in the Midlands. Being a modern stadium the views and legroom are excellent. Pride of place goes to the huge Holte End with it's 13500 capacity behind one goal whilst there are also the Doug Ellis and Trinity Road stands along the side. Away fans normally get part of the Doug Ellis Stand although for cup games some of the North Stand is also allocated. This is the oldest stand in the ground and is due to be replaced, despite this it's still pretty impressive.

There are plenty of takeaways and pubs nearby, though it's a long time since I've used any of them. Last time I eat around the ground was not even on a match day, but when I was travelling down from a game up North. I stopped for a curry at a local restaurant which was both cheap and decent, so perhaps that might be an idea if you have time, as they allow you to take your own booze in. Food in the ground as expected is pricey, with £2.80 for a portion of chips being a prime example. The concourses in some stands are tiny, especially the North Upper where it's a really tight squeeze with everyone down there at half time.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Portsmouth - Fratton Park

Portsmouth FC
Fratton Park
Frogmore Road

023 9273 1204
Official Website

Ground Number: 178
Tuesday 27th September 2011
Portsmouth 2-3 Peterborough United
nPower Championship


1:  The club was established in 1898 although they reformed in 1912 after financial problems. They played mainly in the Southern League in their early days winning it in 1902 and 1920. They also played simultaneously in the Western League between 1901 and 1909, winning it in their first two seasons.

2:  Portsmouth joined the Football League in 1920 and have been there ever since. They've played in all four tiers of the league, their best finish coming in 1949 and 1950 when they were champions of the 1st Division. Their worst finish came in 2015 when they finished 16th in League 2, following years of financial issues.

3:  The club won the FA Cup in 1939 (beating Wolves 4-1) and 2008 (beating Cardiff City 1-0) and were runners-up on three further occasions. They were victims of a giant-killing in2014 as non-league Aldershot Town beat them in a first-round replay.

4  Portsmouth's best run in the League Cup has been the Quarter Final, last reached in 2009/10 when they lost 4-2 to Aston Villa.

5  Portsmouth only foray into Europe came in 2008 following their FA Cup win. In the Europa League, they beat Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes over two legs before finishing 4th in a group containing Sporting Braga, AC Milan, VFL Wolfsburg and Heerenveen.

6:  Other cup wins include the EFL Trophy in 2019, the Hampshire Senior Cup (four times) and the Premier League Asia Trophy in 2007.

7:  Portsmouth's first-ever manager was Frank Brettell who managed the club from August 1898 to May 1901. He remains their most successful in terms of win rate with a record of 63.64 games won. Their least successful was Tony Adams with an 18% win rate during an ill-fated spell in the 2008/09 season.

8  The club has played at Fratton Park since their formation. The modern day all seated capacity is around 20,000 though they had a record attendance of 51,385 in February 1949 for an FA Cup Quarter Final game against Derby County.

9  Portsmouth has a fierce rivalry with near-neighbours Southampton. The Saints currently play in the Premier League and have the better record against Pompey with 35 wins to 21. Their record win came in April 2005 as they won 4-1 in a Premier League game.

10 Famous Pompey fans include Tommy Boyd, Ian Darke and Fred Dineage. Also, John 'Portsmouth Football Club' Westwood who officially added the club's name to his own.  


Portsmouth was another ground that I had to do to tick off one of the 92 so when the Sun did their £19.50 ticket offer I jumped at the chance of visiting a ground that was in easy driving distance. Plus I got to meet up with my Facebook friend Jon, who had the other ticket. Sadly, between buying the tickets and the game taking place, Wycombe had a game rearranged due to Preston's international call-ups, so I ended up missing my first home league game in 13 years as I didn't want to let a mate down. This made my Wycombe season ticket even poorer value, and it was touch and go as to whether I'd actually get one in the first place.

On the day, I managed to get out of work just before 1, which meant I could get a good early start. I drove down, stopping off to take pictures at AFC Portchester and then to Fareham town centre, where I had arranged to meet Jon. We set off for Fratton Park just before 4.30. A trouble-free journey meant that we were parked up by 5pm and after taking a few pictures of outside the ground we went off to a local pub for dinner and a couple of pints. After meeting Manda, who I also met at the West Ham v Aldershot game, we went into the ground with half an hour till kick-off.

The game itself was pretty good. Peterborough took a 4th-minute lead through Lee Frecklington after a bad error from Pompey keeper Jamie Ashdown. It was all square 4 minutes later as Gabriel Zakuani put through his own net. At the time, the goal was initially credited to Erik "The Viking" Huseklepp. Frecklington scored again to see the visitors lead 2-1 at the break. Benjani's late goal looked to have grabbed Portsmouth a vital point, but with the very last kick of the game, Huseklepp did score, only in his own net to gift Peterborough a victory. I later discovered that Wycombe had been involved in a 4-3 thriller in their defeat to Preston, but it was great to meet a good pal in Jon at last, even though I couldn't bring luck on to his team. After dropping him home I made a hasty retreat up the M3 and was back home well before midnight, after a good night out.


As part of my intention to update some of my older blogs, I planned in a visit to Portsmouth v Wycombe as soon as the fixtures came out. The Boxing Day date suited me and I made sure to request a ticket as one of my Christmas presents to keep my football costs down. It would be my 4th visit to Fratton Park - I'd seen Wycombe there twice in 2013 - the original game abandoned at a halftime scoreline of 1-1 following a torrential rainstorm which required me to walk through deep water to get back to my car. This time I'd be going on the Independent Supporters Club coach, handy as it would pick up from near my house. I had a good Christmas Day with the family, getting some nice stuff and having a fair few drinks which resulted in me falling asleep at around 8.30. As a result, I woke at 1 am and watched a couple of hours of TV before going back to sleep. Eventually, I got up around 6.30 am, catching up on my YouTube subscriptions whilst starting to update this blog. After some breakfast and getting my stuff together, I left at 9.20, arriving at the coach stop five minutes early. It was just as well as it turned up less than a minute later. There were plenty of non-league games falling victim to the weather and I was glad to not be playing that particular lottery today. After a couple more pickup points, we were on our way. Our pre-planned pub stop was the Wheelwrights Arms in Havant which appeared to have some real cider on which was great news for me. The food was on the pricier side - for example, £6 to add an extra burger patty to a meal that already cost £13. I opted for fish and chips at the more reasonable price of £10, not much more than some chippies and no doubt a lot nicer.

The rain persisted for our entire journey, though finding out that the coach was a reasonable £19 cheered me up. I also pulled out 2-1 to Wycombe on the coach sweepstake. Most of the journey was spent reading 'The Long, Long Road to Wembley that I'd got for Christmas. It made the journey pass nice and quickly. We were at the pub shortly after 11.30 and for my first pint, I had a pint of Moles Black Rat from a small brewery in Melksham. I'd had some of theirs before when I'd visited the town's football team, and it went down very nicely. The Fish and Chips came and they were great, aside from a pub in Nuneaton back in 2013, the best I've had. This was washed down with a pint of Rosie's Pig Cloudy cider. I then had a cup of mulled cider and another pint of Black Rat before we left at 1.50. It was around 25 minutes to the ground. The coach parked a fair way from the ground which was as traditional as I remember. The atmosphere and game were a little flat at first and took a while to get going. Wycombe had to rely on chances on the break and never really created anything. That said, Portsmouth weren't exactly brilliant either, but they were the better side. Ben Close and Curtis Ronan got the goals in a seven-minute spell in the middle of the second half, both from close range. The game then reached its conclusion with not a lot happening. It was about 15 minutes walk back to the coach through rain and a muted journey home. One good thing about groundhopping is that I won't have to return here for a while but it was a good day out spoiled by the football. The journey home dragged but I was back in Wycombe at 7 and back home by 7.30.


FRATTON PARK is a classic old ground which has seen the transition to all-seater to cope with their rise to the Premiership around 10 years ago. It's a bit rough around the edges, but that gives it its charm. It was one of the smaller in the Premier League with a capacity of 21,000. Away fans are given one side of the Milton End, this has a capacity of 1400. This is one of the older parts of the ground along with the South & North Stands which are at the side. The opposite end, the Fratton End is a lot more modern.

Food and the club shop at the ground are as you'd expect - standard fare and overpriced, There are a vast amount of pubs and takeaways within walking distance which make it a great day out. The best of which is the Lawrence Arms with lots of real ale and cider which is around 15-minutes walk away. I've made plenty of future visits with Wycombe and always found the home fans to be nice and friendly.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Histon - The Glassworld Stadium

Histon FC
The Glassworld Stadium
Bridge Road
CB24 9PH

Ground Number: 158
Saturday 14th August 2010
Histon 3-1 Barrow
Blue Square Premier


Histon FC was formed in 1904 and were originally known as HISTON INSTITUTE, hence their nickname of 'The Stutes' They started out in the Cambridgeshire League before moving to the Spartan League in 1948. By 1951 they were in its top tier, changing their name to the current one the following year. Unsuccessful spells in the Delphenian and Athenian Leagues followed in the first half of the 1960's before they joined the Eastern Counties League in 1965. They struggled for a while before having their best ever finish whilst the league was a single division of 4th in the 74/75 season. When the league established a second tier in 1988, they remained in the top division until they were relegated to Division 1 in 1995. They remained here for two seasons until 1997 when a runners-up spot behind Ely City was good enough to see them promoted back up. This kicked off an incredible run of success and after two top 4 finishes, Histon were promoted as champions at the turn of the century. A four-year spell in the Southern League Eastern Division followed before a runners-up spot behind Kings Lynn was good enough to see them promoted to the Southern Premier in their centenary year of 2004. In their first season at Step 3, they were promoted to the Conference South after winning the league.

After a 5th placed finish in their debut season, they lost to St Albans City in the end of season playoff final, 2006/07 saw them promoted to the Conference Premier after finishing as champions. They spent for seasons at non-league's top table, following up a debut season where they finished 7th with a third-placed finish in 2009. They lost out to Torquay United in the playoffs. However, as quick as the success came it went. Histon finished 18th in 2010 before a five-point deduction for financial reasons saw them finish rock-bottom the following season. Generally, though, finances have been kept in check, despite geography seeing them placed in the Conference North. The last six seasons have proved to be tricky on the field however with 16th place in their debut Conference North season being the highlight. They were relegated to the Southern Premier in 2014, then dropped down to the Southern D1 Central in 2016. Last season saw yet another relegation, with only Petersfield Town keeping them off the foot of the table. They will start the 2017/18 season in the Eastern Counties League for the first time in 17 years. They do have a well-known name in the dugout - former Sheffield Wednesday & Rochdale keeper Lance Key who also played 124 games for Histon during their most successful period.

In the FA Cup, Histon had been on several good runs before they broke all records in the 2008/09 season. That year they were exempted until the 4th Qualifying Round due to their Conference status, but even so they were handed a tough looking tie at that season's NPL D1 North champions elect, Durham City. The teams drew 2-2 up in the north east before Histon triumphed 5-2 in the replay. They were rewarded with a home tie against football league side Swindon Town in the first round, but despite the odds being against them, they ran out 1-0 winners. Their prize for that victory was a home tie against former giants Leeds United, live on ITV. In an even bigger shock than the previous round, Histon triumphed 1-0 thanks to a header from postman Matthew Langston. In the third round, they were drawn at home to Swansea City and put up a brave fight before losing 2-1. In the FA Trophy, the club got to the 4th Round twice - losing 3-0 at home to Billericay Town in 2001 and 2-1 at Gravesend & Northfleet in 2005. The fourth round is also their best progress in the FA Vase and with the club back in the competition for the first time in 17 years this season, they will be hoping to match the progress they made in each of their previous 3 seasons, prior to their promotion to step 4. Locally, Histon have won the Cambridgeshire Professional Cup on eight occasions and the Cambridgeshire Invitational Cup 7 times.


Histon had been a ground that I had been looking to visit for a while, seeing as it was the only ground in the Conference that I had to do at the time. This was back in the day when I was not a proper hopper and counted going to the ground to take photos as a visit. Wycombe were away at Stockport on the 14th August, so knowing that it was not a happy hunting ground for the Wanderers, I pencilled in Histon's match against Barrow as a game to go to.

Setting off around 10 am, it left me plenty of time to visit a few other grounds that I had not been to along the way - Garden Walk, the home of Royston Town and The City Ground, where Cambridge City are the home team. I got to Histon just before 1.30 and was met by some very friendly people who let me in their bar. After a couple a pints, I made my way into the ground for the slightly high price of £14. Histon had had fairly well documented financial problems in the summer and as a result had a severely depleted playing budget.

New manager John Beck had done his best to cobble together a squad, consisting mainly of youngsters. Barrow was another team expected to be in the lower reaches of the table come the season's end. The visitors took the lead on 10 minutes through a Remy Clerima own goal. They continued to pressurise and could have had more goals. But the home side got the equaliser on 26 minutes through Romone McCrae. 2 goals from Zac Attwood sealed the victory for Histon, they probably deserved it as Barrow faded after a bright start.


With the pre-season getting underway for more and more teams, there was a bit more choice than the previous week. Had I elected to visit a new ground, it would have been my 700th. I wasn't overly keen on completing that landmark for a friendly as I had seen a friendly for my 500th and 600th ground. There were a few revisits worth considering and so after speaking to fellow hopper Anwar, we agreed that Histon, being the nearest choice, would be a good choice. I last visited there in 2010 when they defeated Barrow 3-1 in the Conference Premier. They'd suffered a fall from grace since then, starting the coming season in the step 5 Eastern Counties Premier following their relegation from the Southern League Division 1 Central last season.  I'd seen them on their way down - back in 2013 I'd seen them draw 1-1 away to Solihull Moors as they battled relegation from the Conference North. It was a battle they eventually won, for that season at least anyway. I was impressed with Danny Fitzsimmons, their central defender who put in a commanding performance for a young player. He was signed by John Still for Luton and played there for a couple of seasons before drifting back into non-league football after an incident in a nightclub. The only sticking point with my revisit was that we weren't even sure where it was being hosted with no definite news on the Histon website and no response to Twitter enquiries. This had been the same for another hopper for their Saturday game against Wisbech although given that it had been played at their normal ground and that tonight's game kicked off at 7:45, I was fairly confident that it would be at their usual venue.

Another former Histon player was Nick Freeman who had signed for Wycombe last summer and he was part of the Wycombe side that had taken part in an uninspiring 0-0 draw at Slough Town on the previous Saturday. On the day of the game, I was pleased to see confirmation of tonight's game on Histon's website, though it was scheduled to rain from lunchtime onwards. Frustratingly, the afternoon deluge had put pay to my original plan of Histon, with the Biggleswade Twitter announcing it had been put back until Thursday at around 4.15. I now had to make arrangements for an alternative game and given that over 24 hours later, Histon had still not updated their Twitter with news of the postponement, it's unlikely that I will revisit now. A shame as it was fairly local and they made the right option not risking the pitch for such a low key game, but with blog now updated, there is no incentive to visit again.


THE GLASSWORLD STADIUM struggled to keep up with the rapid progress Histon made up the leagues. As a result, only the old main stand remains, albeit with an extension on the side. The other 3 sides are what is known as "Arena" stands, basically metal stands, that are packed onto the back of a lorry and assembled at the point of use. Usually, these are made for clubs looking to make the step up to step 5/6 football but on this occasion, they are a lot bigger and make up the bulk of the ground with a terrace at either end and a long seated stand along the side. Overall the capacity is 3800 with seating for 1700.