New Ferens Park (Durham Women FC)

Another show of how life changes is the history of this ground since this blog’s much-publicised hiatus. At the time I visited it, it was home to Durham City FC. Not any more.

The Northern League side left after a dispute over unpaid bills in 2015 and have played in nearby Consett since. It’s a real shame, especially after the initial buzz around the club after ex-Newcastle United defender Olivier Bernard purchased them in 2013.

New Ferens Park is a curious affair, however. Built outside of town in the middle of an industrial estate, with an artificial pitch, it’s pretty much everything I hate about football stadiums.

Its one saving grace is a curious main stand which is pretty visible from outside. It has a very strange covered stairwell that takes you outside and down to the clubhouse and hard standing which surrounds the rest of the pitch. This corrugated anomaly might just be what saves it.

I think that’s my mind made up. That main stand is unusual enough to be worth a visit. So, whether it’s during the day, or to watch Durham Ladies, who still ply their trade there, New Ferens gets a reluctant thumbs up from me.Edit

You’ve probably already bought my book, but it doesn’t hurt to remind you that it has aged magnificently and is available here.

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Riverside Stadium (Middlesborough)

So you’ve probably wondered when it would happen, that I visited a ground for a second time. Maybe you’ve even had some money waged on it. Well, here we are. Mighty Middlesborough take the honour.

Over the summer I ran a 5k race on Teesside, which started outside Boro’s home and finished with a lap of the pitch inside. So it was a terrific excuse to combine my two great loves in life – running and ground-spotting.

The race is a short run around Middlesborough, in memory of Boro legend Ali Brownlee, and a lovely day. And even if you aren’t into running, it’s the easiest way you’ll get to peak inside a proper football ground like this.

There’s not much I can really say about the stadium itself that hasn’t been said. It’s solid if a little unspectacular, but being able to enter a stadium when there’s not a match on always feels a little bit special.

So this is more of a race recommendation than one for the stadium, but if you fancy a neb of the Riverside then this is a definite thumbs up.

Academy Stadium (Manchester City)

I’ve previously covered Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium as well as its smaller sister that was previously used for reserve and ladies team fixtures. However they’ve recently outdone themselves.

Last season City moved their teams into the Academy Stadium, which is housed within the Etihad Campus, their training ground. It seems pretty ridiculous to have your own custom-built ground purely for second-string fixtures, but they’ve definitely pulled it off.

One of my favourite features is the big windows that you can see straight inside from. It’s a really nice touch, and ideal for we’re after on this blog. Thumbs up for that.

The outside is also reasonably interesting, with beautiful sweeping curves everywhere, this is the sort of ground you can imagine a lower league club feeling pretty chuffed with. It’s always a bonus to see random storage areas for things like goalposts on view too.

The only small negative was the appearance of the Christ the Redeemer statue in a City-themed mural. I’m not sure what the link is between Rio and Manchester, barring city having had a couple of Brazilians playing for them, but it seemed odd.

It would be harsh to mark it down just for that. The futuristic self-service ticket machines also nearly knocked it down, but I’m saying the big windows do more than enough to score this favourably. A definite thumbs up from me.


Lant Avenue Broadway (Llandindrod Wells AFC)

This was very much a spontaneous visit as I was driving through Llandindrod Wells (try saying that when you’re sober), and I’m very much glad I did.

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The town seemed big enough that there’d probably be a football ground and google seemed to back it up. I managed to park up at the neighbouring rugby club, but as the ground is entirely open it’s easy enough to get to.

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There’s not much to it, but it’s easy to love. A sign warning that dogs aren’t allowed was probably my personal highlight. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dogs prohibited sign like it in my life.

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There’s a little covered stand as well, with wooden benches perched on concrete blocks. It’s basic but beautiful, exactly the sort of addition that is welcome on this blog.

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On the opposite side is a wooden clubhouse and then what I’m assuming is a refreshment bar with a tiny bit of covered standing next to it. But due to a huge banner advertising a nearby fish bar, I did momentarily think this might be the world’s most peculiar chip shop.

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Alas it wasn’t, but this is without doubt a brilliant little ground. Easy to walk around, plenty of little oddities and thus definitely worth the trip.

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Please feel free to buy my book. But only if you want to.

Hall Corner (Glapwell FC)

​Well this is awkward. This blog chronicled my visits to various football grounds for a few years, to a wonderfully niche audience, which I accidentally managed to stop updating a while back.

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I didn’t stop visiting the grounds though, and have something of a backlog. But I also lost around eight stone in weight at the same time! So it’s safe to say if I look different in some pics, that’s why.

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In fact, in the time since my last blog post on this site, Glapwell FC have actually been dissolved, which is sad. Perhaps a poignant nod to keeping this blog more up to date? Either way, the club has folded, and it’ll be shame that this ground is, or soon will be, no more.

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It’s nothing too spectacular, but it was a wonderful little find tucked away in Derbyshire on my way to a gig so long ago that I can’t even remember exactly where. Perhaps lacking some TLC, but very homely all the same and dead easy to see inside.

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I previously used to conclude with whether I could recommend a visit. In this case, I’ve no idea. The ground most likely no longer exists, certainly the club doesn’t. But if we discover time travel, then absolutely.

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Abandoned Stadium, Paphos

I know! Your racist little minds are full of vitriol when we go as far afield as Wales, so I’m sure a trip to Cyprus is beyond comprehension.

  
I’ve a few Cypriot grounds to cover, maybe not all at once in case you combust, but this was one of the more interesting ones. Largely because I know so little about it.
I stumbled across it whilst out running through some countryside in Cyprus. It wasn’t signposted, and is hidden by trees and surrounding farmland, but it’s definitely a ground of some sort.  

There’s floodlights and two stands, it has more than some grounds we’ve featured here, that’s for sure. There seems to be a clubhouse behind the far end too, but access is limited to one side as far as I can tell.

 So does that mean it loses points? Absolutely not. You can see everything you need to see anyway, and it’s fascinating trying to guess whose this ground actually is, why it was abandoned, what the story is behind it. Google returns very few clues.  

The truth is probably far more mundane, but for the sheer joy of discovering an abandoned football ground in the Cypriot countryside, this scores absolute top marks from me.

   
    
        
      

    
 
Abandoned and given up hope. Sounds like the recent sales of my book.

Field Mill (Mansfield Town)

Well this isn’t one for me based on just one thing. You’re right. “Andy, isn’t this known as the Onecall Stadium?” You’re right. But not on this blog it’s not.

  
It’s a shame as it’s a cracking stadium with loads to see. There’s an old school ramshackle stand that’s out of use and adorable.

  
And it’s plonked in the middle of a load of streets so gives it an old school feel of walking through streets, rather than pulling off into a retail park.

  
 
OH AND THERE’S STAIRS. We all know I’m a fan of steps up into the ground so what a shame. This could have been a very respectable candidate, and I’d still suggest a visit. But Onecall? Oh dear.

  

   
    
    
    
    
   

Look just buy my book.