Millmoor (Rotherham United 1907-2008)

After a run of Scottish football grounds it seemed beyond temptation to continue the run of stadiums that don’t actually host any football. And so, for your enjoyment, is Millmoor.

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The club left its home in 2008 after playing there for over a hundred years after a dispute over rent with the Booth family, who actually own the stadium. That meant the club spending several years playing in Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium before moving back to the town in 2012.

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We’ll cover Rotherham’s New York Stadium (yes you read that right) some time soon but for now let’s focus back on Millmoor. After a rugby team’s proposed tenancy fell through it makes the place really weird that it’s still empty.

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Even stranger is its condition. Although the ground had been falling apart for years, it hasn’t been left to rot. The pitch appears to be kept neat and whilst most of the stadium is out of bounds it doesn’t look like re-opening it would be a major issue.

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There’s not a lot to see apart from what’s visible from the main road (access to the away fans is down a quite awful looking back lane) but thankfully you’re afforded a decent view. The away entrance also gives nerds a little peak inside some neighbouring railway sidings.

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Most noteworthy of all has to be the main stand though. Construction was halted in 2007 after the discovery of Japanese knotworm amongst a variety of setbacks and with the club moving out shortly afterwards there was little reason to continue.

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And so the structure stands, half-finished and a wonderful pointless beacon of nothingness. Although the stand itself is almost certainly out of bounds, I suspect the security guards protecting the site may oblige polite visitors with a peak inside but I didn’t fancy chancing my arm.

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I’ve no idea why the stadium is still standing but I’m definitely glad that it is. It’s a curious and fascinating visit that I suspect ranks highly with how little there is to see in comparison to how much I’d endorse a trip there.

 

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Butlin Road (Rugby Town)

Sometimes entries in here are almost irrelevant other than to serve as a reminder I was there. Unfortunately Butlin Road is absolutely one of those.

I’d set off early in order to catch this one but roadworks and accidents meant that despite setting off with 90 minutes time to play about with, I turned up literally as the gig was about to start.

So, I visited Butlin Road in darkness. By day it looks pleasant, but by night its location opposite a graveyard makes it both eerily quiet but also not at all lit up.

That meant a few snaps illuminated only by my car headlights and a desperate scramble to steal some photos on the internet later.

I suspect I’d love this one. The sheer fact that they have The Cemetery End makes it undoubtedly wonderful. As it is, this was just a case of two ships quite literally passing in the night.

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City Ground (Nottingham Forest)

When I’m doing interviews with international media they always ask what the best thing about this blog is, what makes a great ground. It’s always the same: “Hey Andy, so can you tell the people of Oklahoma what’s so great about the Turnbull Ground?”

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It’s amazing and of course the answer differs from place to place. The sheer size of Old Trafford is overwhelming, the state of Tinto Park is almost surreal but for those stadiums that are just that, there’s one thing that will always win over: the chance to sneak in.

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And so the City Ground, home of former European Cup winners Nottingham Forest, will always be remembered fondly by me. It’s not really one for daytime tourists to wander inside, but on a Saturday evening shortly after a home game, the doors were still open.

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That meant yours truly having a mope about and there’s no denying the City Ground is an impressive venue. It’s a big stadium anyway and pretty immaculate, in fact there’s a lot of grounds such as Oxford’s Kassam Stadium that are much newer, not a lot smaller but definitely looking worse for wear.

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Wonderful old school floodlights perched high above and old-school turnstiles give this a warm feeling and regardless of its flashy interior, will win even the coldest heart over. Inside there’s bright red seats that are visually striking but also stanchions interrupting the view from one stand. It’s a cracking mix of schools both old and new.

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There’s plenty to see of Forest’s home from the outside too, so it definitely wouldn’t be a wasted journey if you can’t get inside, but I can only really judge this one as being brilliant due to the thrill of a peek behind closed doors.

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Links Park (Montrose)

Well this was a bit embarrassing and also disappointing. Me and Lee Kyle were on the road in Scotland and as we were passing Montrose decided it’d be rude not to drop by Links Park.

We drove through the town’s leafy suburbs and whilst the surrounding area was nice, there’s absolutely nothing I can say about the ground. We sort of saw the side of a stand with a lovely football shaped widow but in total darkness it was impossible to see anything else.

In daylight it should be fine – all that’s blocking the view is a fence that is easy enough to tip toe over but at night it’s a totally pointless excursion.

Some photos I’ve stolen from googlemaps are included to give you an idea of what it looks like, as frankly I haven’t got a clue. All I can say is pick your time to visit this one carefully. Daylight is essential.

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Dens Park (Dundee)

For some this will be a classic return to form of earlier blogs, to others this might not be what your Friday is all about. Either way you have no say, here’s Dundee United’s ugly sister.

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I feel almost repentant about introducing Dens Park in such a shoddy way and I’ll admit time restrictions today mean I’m going for the easiest line.

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It’s not the most attractive ground from the outside as a lot of it is obscured, but what is available is wonderfully old school and there’s a slither of the inside available to look at too.

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Probably its main selling point for tourists like me is its proximity to another football ground. That’s not me professing any opinion on which is the better, just that a two for one is always a bonus.

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In short, you can’t be disappointed with a trip to Dens Park. Even if Dens Park isn’t the main attraction.

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Craik Park (Morpeth Town)

This is an interesting and picturesque visit but very hard to recommend to tourists. You have to take in a game there.

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The ground is situated quite a distance outside the town of Morpeth itself, deep inside some woods. It means the stadium is also largely surrounded by tall trees, making it beautiful as a setting but difficult to see much as a spectator.

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There are two stands either side of the pitch, both different to each other and also to most other grounds at this level, making it a welcome venue in my eyes. The main seated stand is perfectly reasonable if unspectacular, and opposite is a bright yellow shelter for standing spectators.

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The ground looks like it used to house a running track or something similar, as the pitch is a decent distance from the stand and has an oval shape to it too. Oh, and there’s a shed that almost looks like an old railway carriage too. Always a winner.

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And that’s about it, save for some wonderful dug outs. In terms of visiting, I didn’t enjoy it much. A young group of kids congregated behind the visiting goalkeeper and spent the game abusing him, generally using a variety of obscenities that aren’t to be encouraged to 12 year old children.

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But the ground itself is very very decent and in beautiful surrounds, so taking in a game here isn’t something you should necessarily avoid.

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Moore Lane Park (Newton Aycliffe FC)

This was a brilliant treat after a gig for the wonderful Hilarity Bites in Newton Aycliffe on a random Tuesday night. A quick look at the Northern League’s website suggested the town’s football team were playing at the same time.

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I finished my set and hot-footed it across to Moore Lane Park, part of the Moore Lane Sports Ground that also houses a cricket club, in time to catch the last half hour of a lacklustre home defeat to the hands of Durham City.

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The ground itself is pleasant if a little nondescript. I visited on a dark night so it was hard to tell if you’d be able to see much from the outside – the fact that you have to walk around the cricket pitch to get to the stadium at the back of the complex means I don’t hold much hope.

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Once inside it houses two stands, both sheltered, one for standing and one for sitting. They’re both virtually identical to the off-the-shelf Northern League stands that most new grounds at that level seem to have, so it’s hard to really compliment them.

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The subs’ benches are quite pleasant to look at. Clad in perspex they’ve a continental look about them and it’s an often overlooked area for individuality. So many clubs at this level just have ugly brick structures, so thumbs up on that front.

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The standing area is named The William Finley Stand which is a nice touch and sets it apart slightly, so kudos too for that. The rest of the ground is just hard standing really. There’s plenty of room and I suspect on a sunny day it’s a wonderful place to take in a game, but for a night match there’s not much else to look at other than the football.

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