GLASGOW SPECIAL

There’s only a handful of pictures here and mainly story. Sorry about that. I’ve detailed the actual grounds on separate pages, it seemed only right to give a brief summary of the afternoon’s events in general though.

It started in Glasgow city centre at 12pm. I was doing an afternoon show with fellow comics Lee Kyle and Nick Cranston. Our next show wasn’t until 8pm, giving us a lot of time to kill. And I don’t want to be critical of Glasgow’s tourism hotspots, but given the choice between taking in as many football grounds as we could inside 5 hours or visiting, erm, other stuff, there was only one thing for it.

We strapped ourselves into Nick’s shitty little car and headed off to Partick Thistle. After a slight delay whilst armed police stopped the road as they staked out a bookies with machine guns, we reached Firhill Stadium, on the recommendation of fellow comic Ray Bradshaw, who also gave us the lowdown on a rough order to visit the stadiums.

Obviously there’s more detail on the grounds on each page but from fantastic Firhill we hot-footed it to Airdrie United’s Excelsior Stadium. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even notice the name until we got home, but if we’re talking about grandeur, they’re absolutely deluded. The area around the stadium seems one of the grimmest settings I’ve ever seen for a football ground. Ordinarily we’d hang around, have a wander round the ground and get some snaps. This place was so grim it seemed a chore to get out of the car.

And so onto Albion Rovers. We drove through more of grim urban Glasgow scenery until we reached Cliftonhill Stadium. I say reached, we had to stop at a B&M Bargains to check we’d not driven past it. It took all of two minutes to survey what was in front of us before we hit the road in search of a Hamilton Academicals mug.

We’d desperately wanted a cup from a lower league Scottish team but no grounds we visited that day even had a club shop, let alone being open. However Hamilton advertised a shop that was open till 5pm, so when we arrived at 4pm and figured out how the hell to get to the ground from the Morrisons opposite, it’s safe to say we were livid at the sight in front of us. Shutters down.

No Hamilton mug, and hailstones, meant only one thing. With Celtic Park briefly visited the night before, and the prospect of Shieldfield Park, the home of Berwick Rangers, on our way home, we were easily able to hit half a dozen grounds within 24 hours. That deserved a carvery. And so we headed for warmth and meat.

But no fucking cup. Bastards.

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Leicester City (King Power Stadium)

Next on the list of football grounds was, so far, comfortably the biggest of the lot, Leicester City’s Walkers Stadium.

Except it’s not. It’s the King Power Stadium or some crap like that. It’s a frightening glimpse of the problem with just naming a ground after a sponsor. What will the Emirates be when they eventually up sticks and a new person puts the money into Arsenal? Unfortunately for the new guy, it’ll still be the Emirates.

Anyway, this evening’s trip to Leicester was exciting. The gig was fine but a new ground to add to the list was the most pressing attraction and I was driving home with fellow comic and generally good egg John Whale. I mentioned as we were walking out of the venue that I’d like to go home via the Walkers Stadium, just to get a couple of snaps.

“I’m not driving so I can’t really oppose it, but I do strongly oppose it,” came the almost instantaneous reply. I mentioned nothing more then as we got to the car he realised I was serious. We got in the car, fired the sat nav up and began to take a 2 mile detour towards Gary Linekar’s spiritual home and suddenly John began to get excited. We were on our way.

It was delightful to see, even though he constantly tried to hide it. We arrived at the stadium which was plunged in darkness and as I got out to get a couple of snaps John refused to get out of the car. Suddenly his excitement of three minutes earlier had evaporated into childish mocking and outright petulance.

I got out of the car to take in our surroundings, John stayed in the car eating crap food from a local petrol station. There’s not a lot to be said about Leicester’s new home, especially in the dark, which is a shame as I wish John had missed loads. It looks nice and fancy and big, and had loads of people milling around; the car park was full despite it being 11.30pm on a Thursday night.

I tried to be quick to avoid further aggravation from my guest, who frankly should have been more fucking grateful of the lift and at least offered to take a few photos for me. So what can I say about Leicester? Part of it was locked, part of it was busy and part of it was covered in really odd-looking bright blue tiles.

The tiles are presumably an attempt to give the ground character which it totally lacks, but nonetheless it was nice to tick another stadium off the list and get back on the road before John actually broke out into tears.

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