Friday, 4 January 2013

The Wycombe Wanderer Awards (Review of 2012)

Well we've said goodbye to 2012. During the year I managed to see 101 games and visit 51 new grounds for a game. I'd guess this lot has cost me up to £2000 (the 63 so far in 2012/13 season have cost me £1061, working out at £16.84 a game including tickets, travel, spending in club shops and food and drink. Some games have been worth it, some haven't but overall I have had good value more often than not. The costs have been helped out through me getting a free season ticket for Wycombe Wanderers by working for them collection for the clubs lottery scheme. I am also hoping to make a tidy profit on the 40 groundtastic magazines that I bought for £6 (job lot) at Yeovil. They tend to go for around the £3 mark each, even for the common issues. This will all go back into my football fund and should help bring or keep the costs down. I am setting myself a target for spending for the 2012/13 season, hoping to go on a trip to Sweden with other groundhoppers. This and more aims will be listed at the bottom of this page.



BEST NEW GROUND VISITED:
HITCHIN TOWN - TOP FIELD
Ground 205 - 16/7/12 - Hitchin Town 0-1 Luton Town - Friendly



TOP FIELD is a cracking little football ground, steeped in tradition and unique - quite unlike any other ground I have visited. Along one side is a largish stand, holding around 500 people. Then to the left of that, is a large uncovered terrace, one of the bigger ones in non league football. These 2 stands alone make it well worth a visit, but the other 2 sides are even more interesting and unique. They are wooden terracing (or they could be used as benches should people wish to sit) They are pretty steep in height and so offer a good view, and a lot of them are covered too to protect from the elements. In my opinion, a must for all groundhoppers and indeed football fans.

Honourable mentions: Stourbridge's Amblecote, Hednesford Town's Keys Park, Dartford's Princes Park and Cardiff City's St David's Stadium

Least favourite new grounds - Bradford Park Avenue's Horsfall Stadium and Hornchurch's Hornchurch Stadium


BEST GAME SEEN:
BOGNOR REGIS TOWN 4-4 GODALMING TOWN
Ryman League Division 1 South - Playoff Semi Final - 01/05/12

A real epic of a game, swang this way and that and ended up as a pulsating 4-4 draw before a penalty shoot out decided that Bognor Regis Town would go through to the playoff final where they beat Dulwich Hamlet to seal promotion to the Ryman Premier.

Honourable mentions: So many - Abingdon Town 3-3 Windsor, Wycombe Wanderers 5-0 Hartlepool United, Wycombe Wanderers 3-4 Notts County and Woodford United 4-5 Leighton Town.

Worst games: Wycombe Wanderers 0-3 Fulham, Wycombe Wanderers 0-1 AFC Wimbledon, Wingate and Finchley 2-0 Wycombe Wanderers U19, Sheffield United 3-0 Wycombe Wanderers, Stoke City 0-2 Swansea City and AFC Telford 0-0 Grimsby Town.


BEST CLUB SHOP
LEAMINGTON

So much competition in this category, as part of my motivation for visiting a new ground was a good club shop. My criteria is: A good selection of programmes and books at good prices. Leamington's excellent shop takes the award. I got a Merthyr Tydfil Pennant for 50p with a free Keyring, several books and a load of fanzines for a bargain price. Worthy of special mention are Yeovil where I got 40 issues of Groundtastic magazine for £6 and pennants at Guiseley and Bradford Park Avenue (at £1 and £1.50 respectively) 

Other honourable mentions to: Stourbridge, Dartford, Curzon Ashton and Alfreton Town and Bedford Town all of which were mind blowing.

Worst was Newport County - Sky high prices and full of rugby tat (though to be fair the second point is  not their fault considering they are lodging with Newport Gwent Dragons, which is a lot better than their old arrangement at the athletics stadium.


BEST TEA BAR
BOGNOR REGIS TOWN

A real great selection of good value and well cooked food. The highlight of which was delicious bread pudding, still warm from being freshly cooked at just 50p a slice.

Honourable mentions to Alfreton Town, Brackley Town, Guiseley, Swindon Supermarine, Leamington and Corby Town.

Worst: Plenty of bad ones, seemed to be the general rule in the league. But at least they didn't lie like Beaconsfield SYCOB/Slough who said "You're too late, there's no chips" despite me being clearly able to see some through the serving hatch.





BEST SUPPORTERS
SWINDON SUPERMARINE

Another closely fought one, but Swindon Supermarine edge it. When I went to their pre season game at Witney Town, they gave me free cakes and welcomed me with open arms. And were just as friendly when I went to see them at their home game against Shortwood United

Honourable mentions to Sheffield Wednesday who are a fantastic bunch of fans, and I have made several good friends from there. Grimsby too in sheer size, though they do have a couple of plonkers that thankfully I have only heard about.

Worst is a very difficult one to choose, have never met any really bad fans. But Sheffield United's constant whinging about a tackle 12 years ago by Gareth Ainsworth gets a bit tiresome. And if I didn't know my mate Jordan, I might think the whole lot of em where like that, rather than just an odd few.




BEST MEET
SAM AT AFC DUNSTABLE v AYLESBURY UNITED

I had met Sam randomly through Facebook, I can't remember how. He is a Peterborough fan and we chatted loads about our teams, eventually arranging a meet near his. And we had a lot of fun taking the mick out of the tubby Aylesbury keeper, who loved the banter and took it in good spirit. A real top lad and he introduced me to Kyle who was also great but supports the wrong WWFC!

Honourable mentions to: everyone else who agreed a meet, have enjoyed them all, thanks lads! And this is the only category that hasn't got a least favourite, as everyone was spot on.




FRIENDLIEST CLUB
CURZON ASHTON

Another hotly contested category, as pretty much every club gave a great welcome. But the best was at Curzon Ashton, where I met so many friendly people from the club shop, to the tea bar, to the turnstiles and the press box. I wasn't planning on going originally, but the Man City game got cancelled, costing me a tick off of the 92. But I am glad it did in many ways.

Worst was Chelsea, horrible club that cost me going to Man City by winning in the Cup. And they employ John Terry and Ashley Cole, who really are an example of where the game has gone morally wrong at the top level. And add to that the nastiness over the Mark Clattenburg situation and I don't see much competition elsewhere.





BEST CLUBHOUSE
LEAMINGTON

As a rule I am not a fan of club bars and generally avoid drinking there as they offer a very poor range of drinks and are often expensive. Of the few that I did go in, Leamington's was smart and modern with big screen TV's. And the Stowford Press cider that they did was nice and not too common, though I have had it before. And the prices were OK

Worst by a long way is the Vere Suite at Wycombe. Throughout 2012, the only cider they offered was poxy 330ML bottles of Magners. And until the trust took over in the summer, it was highly overpriced. I wouldn't have gone in there, had it not been that my dad got my drink in return for driving to the game. Thanks to the trust, the prices have come down slightly and on 1st January 2013 they started doing pint bottles of Magners. Still mediocre, but a step forward.





BEST PUB
THE MERCHANT'S INN - RUGBY


This brilliant pub was a great find before my recent trip to see Rugby Town v Royston Town. It was found using the excellent CAMRA (campaign for real ale) app that I had on my phone. It had 12 real ciders and probably around 200 beers including bottles.Other great pubs have included: The Bulls Head - Burslem, The Hops Belgian Bar - Crewe, The Wellington - Birmingham and The Fighting Cock, Bradford.

No worst pubs, as if they are not up to standard, I won't bother with them. My mates all like Wetherspoons, which is fairly reasonable and is far and away the best of the chains for drinks.






FAVOURITE PLAYER
MATT BLOOMFIELD - WYCOMBE WANDERERS

Though he may not have had his best times at Wycombe in 2012, thanks to injuries, Bloomfield always gives 100% for the cause and was mucked around a lot in the summer with his contract. He is still only on a 1 year comtract despite turning in good performances since he joined the club in 2003. Contrast that to Jo Kuffour who after being at the club a few weeks was given a 2 year deal, and has not done much since. Not Kuffour's fault of course, but I certainly hope that Bloomfield is in the clubs long term plans.

The worst has to be John Terry, no contest. After the disgusting abuse he shouted at Anton Ferdinand, 2012 was the year of his court case. He got off scot free by the courts and the FA only gave minimal punishment in a separate judgement. If a fan had shouted what he did, they would be banned for a very long time. In fact I know of cases where fans have said or done something far less serious, and have been hit with heavy bans.




 


BEST PROGRAMME
WYCOMBE WANDERERS

It gives me great pleasure to nominate my own club for the best programme. Well presented, printed on nice quality paper and full of good content, it is the best I have seen in 2012. I only bought 1 issue, as I do from every ground I go to, but it's worth the £3 asking price if you are a collector or buy a programme for each game.

Special mention to the London Senior Cup final, which gave out programmes for free, and a decent quality publication it was too. And to Biggleswade Town - only a few clubs put out a programme for a single pound and theirs was the best of that bunch, with nice design and a home made feel, and as much to read as most other programmes.

Worst was Aylesbury United for not producing one due to issues with the printers. But they still charged the same entrance price as they did when a programme was included and I had to work very hard to procure a team sheet as a paper record of my trip to Leighton Town, where they groundshare.





BEST VALUE
CANVEY ISLAND

An easy one this, hats off to Canvey Island for offering free admission to their game v Bognor Regis Town on Non League Day. This offer was open to all season ticket holder of other clubs, as well as the armed forces. It made my decision of where to spend the day a bit easier. And everything else was reasonably priced at the ground too.

Worst value goes to Wingate and Finchley who had the cheek to charge £10 for a friendly v Wycombe's youth and trialists. It was one of the dullest games I have seen too. At least the ground was a good one and every one was friendly there, but I won't be rushing to go back there.




MY TEN TARGETS FOR 2013

To complete the 92. I am currently 4 short, with Liverpool, Man City, Sunderland and Burnley to do. I want to do this before the end of the current season

To complete the Blue Square Premier. Just Barrow, Hyde, Nuneaton and Southport to do here.

To complete the Blue Sqaure South. Currently Weston Super-Mare and Truro to do. I will probably wait until Truro go down, as it's a huge and expensive journey.

To complete the Southern League Division 1 Central. Chertsey, Daventry, Fleet, Guildford and Royston should be fairly easy to complete.

To go on the annual groundhopping trip to Sweden. This is where you see 7 matches in the space of a weekend. It will give me a chance to discover a new country.

To accomplish the above, keep my season spending to under £2000. I am planning on 100 games approx, with 2 a week until the end of the season, sometimes more. This would give me a budget of £20 per game, helped by home Wycombe games costing me only petrol as I get a freebie season ticket for working on the lottery. Ideally it won't be much over £2K with Sweden in as well. This figure includes, entry, travel and all matchday spending.

To visit as many good new pubs as I can, and drink as many new ciders as possible. And to keep an accurate record of this.

To meet more new people, as all my meets so far have been excellent, and the social side is the best part of football.

To get all the programmes that I need to have one from each ground I have seen a game at. Currently need around 40

To see games at grounds that I have been meaning to for ages. Altrincham, Hinckley, Worcester, Cambridge City, Carshalton, Worksop and Merthyr Town are my top targets.  


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