Friday 23 March 2012

Everton - Goodison Park

Everton FC
Goodison Park
Goodison Road
L4 4EL

0871 663 1878

Ground Number: 197
Wednesday 21st March 2012
Everton 0-1 Arsenal
Barclaycard Premiership


For the 3rd match in my three-day treble, I decided upon Everton v Arsenal. It was originally going to be a non-league game at Carlton Town, but some fixtures were rearranged and so I had the opportunity to tick off one of the ever-dwindling list of the 92 Football League clubs that I still have left to do. On the day I had to leave my hotel by 10am and with breakfast finishing at 9.30, I checked out at 9.15 and went and had breakfast before setting off just before 10. First stop was Bootle FC to take some pictures of their ground - the Delta Taxis Stadium which was pretty decent for North West Counties League level. After that, it was a short journey to Goodison Park, where I parked up for free in a road called Heathcote Road and after taking some pictures of the outside of the ground in daylight, before getting a bus into Liverpool city centre. 
Whilst there I went shopping, went down to the Albert Dock and saw some of the Beatles museum amongst other things. Then it was to a great pub called the Ship and Mitre, which had about 15 different ciders on and were having a festival. After 4 halves, it was getting near 6 and so got a taxi back to the ground as I couldn't be bothered to go and find where the bus stop was. It cost me over £7 though, and added to the £13ish that I had spent in the pub, it was turning into another expensive day on my week away. After chucking my stuff in the car, and getting my ticket I went and got some samosas and chips from a local takeaway before making my way into the ground.

I had paid £34 for my ticket (one of the cheapest I could find) I thought it was going to be quite a decent view, being near the top of the lower tier of the Gwladys Street stand. But as well as a low roof, there were pillars in the way. The view wasn't horrendous but was pretty poor and I was glad in the second half when I could move down a few rows and get a better view. The game wasn't up to much really, easily the least entertaining of the 3 I went to this week. Thomas Vermaelen's goal for Arsenal on 8 minutes won it for the visitors. There were a few other chances, but no one really came that close. After the game, I got out of Liverpool quite quickly and thought I was in for a nice clear run home. How wrong I was. A two-hour delay on the M6, thanks to the idiots closing between 2 junctions and not making adequate arrangements to keep the flow of traffic going. There were a large number of Leicester fans coming back from Blackpool as well as the Arsenal fans from Everton who were caught up in it, despite the "scoreboards" above the motorway promising only a 10-minute delay. I eventually got home at 3am, after 3 days of football, 820 miles done in my car and a considerable dent made in my wallet.


GOODISON PARK is a real old style football ground, and while it looks great and more interesting than the modern stadiums, there are a lot of seats with a poor view. I was in the Gwladys Street end, which was 2 tiered and behind the goal. Opposite me was the Park End, the only modern stand in the ground. The 2 stands along the side are older stands - the one on the right being the bigger one, with 3 tiers, while part of the one on the left housed the away fans. There are numerous pubs and takeaways around the ground, so you won't go hungry or thirsty, but a trip into Liverpool is well worth the effort.  

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Gateshead - International Stadium

Gateshead FC
International Stadium
Neilson Road
Tyne and Wear
NE10 0EF

0191 478 3883
Official Website

Ground Number: 196
Tuesday 20th March 2012
Gateshead 1-0 Bath City
Blue Square Premier


After the previous day's game at Curzon Ashton, it was the longest journey of the 3 for me, up at Gateshead. It was not a stadium I was looking forward to going to, it having a large running track around the pitch normally makes the view poor. But I wanted to complete the Blue Square Premier league, so it had to be done, even though Gateshead are rumoured to be moving to a new stadium in the next few years. After a hearty cooked breakfast, I went back to my room for a bit, as I had time to kill. I left the hotel at 12 and visited some grounds en Route

Newton Aycliffe - basic ground, fenced off in a nice park area
Bishop Auckland - Smart modern ground, opened last year
Crook Town - A proper ground, sadly I didn't get to see much of it as it was locked up
Tow Law Town - My favourite ground of the day - a charming ground with some very nice touches
Esh Winning - a basic ground in the middle of nowhere, again shut up so I didn't get to see much
Brandon United - Very high fences all around, so I couldn't see a thing and only got a picture of the sign

After all those, plus filling up with fuel (which took nearly 30 minutes due to it being by far the cheapest petrol station I have seen whilst away (140.9p for diesel), it was past 4 when I got to Gateshead. I opted to park up, walk to the Metro station and get a tram into Newcastle City Centre. After having a look around some shops to kill time, I made my way to a pub called The Bacchus, as I had looked on my phone for pubs that served nice cider. This certainly came up trumps, after a pint of Thistly Cross and a bottle of Apple Floris Belgian beer, I was feeling a lot happier about having come to Gateshead for a game. After a short tram ride back to the stadium, it was time to get something to eat. I went into the local Asda as there wasn't much else around, plus the fact that I was running out of cash fast, and could use my card to pay. It may not be Gordon Ramsay's idea of a great meal, but 2 mini french sticks, cut with my car key and filled with tikka chicken went down a treat and were pretty nice. I got my stuff together and made my way to the ground. After paying £14 to get in (double what I paid last night) I went and had a look round. There wasn't much in the concourse, a basic range of club merchandise and a tea bar. There was also a bar underneath the stand, but you had to use that before you went through the turnstile.

The view was not as bad as I had expected, maybe it was the earlier drinks putting me in a good mood that made the view seem a whole lot better than any other athletics ground I had been to. I had planned to meet Shaun Smith of the 100 Football Grounds website and got a text from him saying he would meet me at half time. Some Gateshead fans were very happy to see me up there and we talked about old times and old games until kick off. The game was OK, nothing special, but certainly not a boring game. The only goal came through Jon Shaw, Gateshead's top scorer, after a long spell of pressure by the home side. They pretty much dominated throughout and should have had a few more. Whilst the score was still 1-0, there was always a danger that Bath could nick a goal and a point. They had a few half chances but nothing serious, but probably had the better of the final exchanges. In the end, the "Heed" fans were just happy to hear the final whistle. I did meet Shaun in the end, at half time. We had a good chat, I had met him at Hayes just under a year ago, so I knew he was a decent fella. We watched most of the second half together too. I got away pretty quickly from the ground, and made decent time home, despite a long stretch of the A1 being down to 50MPH because of roadworks. I got back to the hotel at around 11.20, having had another good night.


As previously mentioned the INTERNATIONAL STADIUM is not suited to football, being an athletics venue. It is quite an impressive one at that though, having an all seated capacity of 12000, with both side stands being covered. When there is a large away following, away fans are located in the opposite stand, but on this occasion, with it being a long away trip for Bath in midweek, only the main stand was open. The seating in this is quite steep, meaning that high up, the view is not as bad as it could have been, though it's still not ideal. I had previously been to the International Stadium on a weekend up in the North East to take pictures, at the time only one stand was covered, this has since been improved. They have also taken away a scoreboard behind one goal and replaced it with a smaller, more basic one on the running track.

The other facilities a pretty basic, a small range of official merchandise and a typical tea bar for a football ground. There is also a bar underneath the stand before you go in, but I didn't try it. I'd recommend that you got a tram into Newcastle if you've time to spare, as there is a much better range of stuff to do, it is the best City in the UK in my opinion.

Monday 19 March 2012

Curzon Ashton - Tameside Stadium

Curzon Ashton FC
Tameside Stadium
Richmond Street
Ashton Under Lyne

0161 330 6033

Ground Number: 195
Monday 19th March 2012
Curzon Ashton 2-1 Woodley Sports
NPL D1 North


This was my first match in a set of 3 that I had planned "up North" for my week off. Originally it was meant to be Manchester City against Chelsea, but that horrible mob from West London only went and won a FA Cup game, meaning that their game would have to rearranged. On the day I set off just before 11 and had a nice clear run up the motorway, arriving just after 2 after a brief break at services. I checked into my hotel, paid for courtesy of some spare air miles that I had in my account and spent a few hours relaxing in the hotel before I set off for the game. Bad news was had in this time when I found out that half the people I had been planning to meet during this mini-break couldn't make it, but I had to make the best of my few days away. There were quite a few miles of roadworks, but in the end, there was no major delay. I got to the ground in plenty of time, arriving just before 7.

After paying a very reasonable £7 to get in. plus £1.50 for a big thick programme, the first thing I did was make my way to the programme shop that I had heard about. It didn't disappoint, having a huge selection to chose from and all at good prices. I picked up 20 random fanzines for £4 and also a pennant for the same price - normally I'd stop at £3 to save space on my wall, but this friendly club deserved my money. After taking some pictures around the ground, I got myself a snack for dinner. The tea bar didn't have the greatest range in the world, but a fairly decent hot dog at £1.05 was great value. The game actually kicked off around 10 minutes late for some reason or other. The first half was entertaining, Curzon racing into a 2 goal lead, courtesy of a brace from their number 10 Kristian Dennis. They looked like adding a few more to cement their position at the top of the league, but playoff chasers Woodley Sports got back into it before half time with a goal from their right back Aaron Chalmers. A good first half then, and the second half, despite producing no more goals, was still a fairly decent affair. Woodley probably had the better off it, having several chances to level the game, but it was not to be, neither could Curzon convert any of the chances they had to put the game to bed. So I had a good day out, with plenty of people recognising my Wycombe coat and being friendly, as well as expressing their surprise at my attendance. Most of the other 205 fans that went would have got home before me, the journey taking just over an hour, meaning I got back to my hotel at 11PM.


TAMESIDE STADIUM is an excellent non-league stadium, that is probably Smarter than a few grounds in the Football League. I had previously been there to take pictures on the way to a Wycombe away game at Bury in April. Certainly, the builders would have had a higher level than where they currently play in mind when they constructed the stadium. One one side is a decent sized main stand, holding around 500, and with a good bar and conferencing facilities built into it. It also serves as an area for the junior and adult teams that use the 3G pitches nearby to use for snacks and getting changed etc. On the other side is a large covered terrace, which probably holds just under a thousand at a push. The rest of the ground is open terracing, but all very modern. As mentioned before, the club shop is excellent and the tea bar is OK. As for other places to go, the ground was a bit far away from anywhere else from what I saw, you probably have about a 10-15 minute walk to the nearest pub or takeaway. All in all, though, I would recommend a visit, it's a decent ground, inhabited by a nice friendly club.

Sunday 18 March 2012

Dartford - Princes Park

Dartford FC
Princes Park
Darenth Road

01322 299990
Official Website


Ground Number: 194
Saturday 17th March 2012
Dartford 3-1 Havant and Waterlooville
Blue Square South


I had been planning to go to Bury v Wycombe on this day. But due to a combination of factors, the main ones being that I would do a lot of travelling over the coming week and also that I couldn't get enough people to make driving up worthwhile. So I had to sort an alternative - a Saturday in the season without going to a game would be shocking. I had a number of options I was considering - from helping out on the turnstiles at Wealdstone's FA Trophy Semi-Final game v Newport County, or going to Brackley Town v Weymouth. But I decided that I wanted to tick off a ground in the Conference South. It was down to Eastleigh v Dover or Dartford v Havant and Waterlooville, both roughly around the same distance away, in the end, it was the programme shop that I had heard about that swung it for Dartford. On the day I decided to leave about 11am and visit a couple of grounds on the way, as well as going into Dartford town centre. So on the way I went to Kings Langley FC near Watford, this season being the clubs first in the FA Cup, hence them only just falling under my radar. And another new ground for this season, Enfield Town, who moved into the Queen Elizabeth II stadium earlier this season. I got to Dartford at around 1PM, parked up and walked the 5-10 minute walk into the town. After getting some chicken for lunch and a huge carrier bag full of grapes for £1.50, I made my way back to the ground, arriving back at 2.15.

I chucked my stuff in the boot and went in the ground, entry was a reasonable £12 and a decent sized programme was £2.50, with plenty to read, certainly the most impressive one I have seen in Non-League this season. I went to the club shop, which although impressive, didn't have any pennants for me to buy. The real gem was at the other end of the ground, a supporters association shop with an impressive range of programmes, books and fanzines to buy. I bought 5 Dartford fanzines, A "The Worst of Football" book, Dartford v Dorking programme from 2005 (a game I went to but chucked the programme) and a Northern Ventures, Northern Gains magazine all for £2. After a quick walk around the ground to take some pictures it was time for the game. I took a seat in the stand and watched the first half. Havant were the better side in the early periods, taking a deserved lead after 9 minutes through Scott Jones. They should have wrapped up the game minutes later when they were awarded a penalty, but it was wasted, being blazed over the bar by Steve Ramsey. Dartford eventually equalised before half time through Lee Noble, so the sides went in level at the break. The second half was a different affair, whatever was said in the Dartford dressing room at half time worked, as they were a different team second half. It did take until the 79th minute for them to make a breakthrough - Danny Harris the scorer. As Havant went forward in pursuit of an equaliser, they left gaps at the back, this was exploited by Dartford, who scored through Lee Wilkinson. Overall it was a decent game, if not a classic. I made pretty decent time on the way home, getting home around 6.15 after a hassle-free journey.


PRINCES PARK was built in 2006 and is one of the best grounds in non-league football. It was designed with the environment in mind, with several "green-friendly" features. The stadium itself is all covered, 3 sides terracing and 1 side seats, in a similar style to Burton Albion's Pirelli Stadium. It has all the advantages that a new stadium brings, as well as being nicely designed and quite unique. There is a bar at the ground, but I didn't go in. The town centre with an abundance of pubs is a short walk away, so you will be spoilt for choice. As I have already mentioned, as well as the club shop, there is an excellent programme shop, with a good range.