Pennypit Park (Preston Athletic)

I think regular readers of this blog are well aware of its thirst for ground-breaking innovations and I’ve not let you down this week. ¬†For the first time in the proud history of Andy Fury’s Football Grounds, the post contains a picture of a ground that’s not the ground we’re talking about.

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Technically, Pennypit Park is two grounds, one for football then one adjacent for rugby. Scottish junior side Preston Athletic have one stand that you can’t see from the outside, but it’s part of a complex they share with rugby club Preston Lodge, whose stand is visible. So whilst all of the shots of the exterior are of the football ground, the one picture where you can see the seats is of the rugby ground. And if that confuses you then I’m barely apologetic. Go and get your football ground blogs from some other dumbed down source.

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I’ve included the photo of the rugby club’s stand because the football one presumably looks exactly the same. They’re identical from the outside and so it’s probably safe to say not much is different inside. In terms of the ground itself, it’s a pleasant enough affair although slightly surreal having an exact replica right next to it.

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There’s not much of note though. It was the first ground we encountered on our Scottish journey that had floodlights, which definitely marked it out and helped give it the feel of being a proper ground. There was also a dead seagull outside the stand, although I suspect that’s not a permanent feature.

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It’s worth visiting though; it’s right next to Tranent Juniors’ home and also not far from Musselburgh Athletic’s stadium, and there’s two grounds in the same place here! So it’s easy enough to get your count up, even if it’s not overly blessed with character.

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Foresters Park (Tranent Juniors)

So then, welcome back to Scotland! This was number five on mine and Lee’s ridiculous day of visiting as many grounds as possible and it was both lovely and an anti-climax.

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We’ll start with a couple of points of note from the journey in that score both plus and minus points. Firstly, the amount of speed bumps driving in is absolutely insane and almost enough to put you off visiting. Thankfully, this was evened out by us spotting man wearing what we thought was an eyepatch but as we got closer realised it was whatever the monocle version of sunglasses is called. Brilliant.

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As for the ground, it’s ideal for tourists due to a mesh fence being all that stands between you and the ground. It means you can see everything clearly, although you can’t get particularly close, but at least it’s all on show.

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There’s only one stand but it seems to follow the Scottish junior model of being an impressive affair. It’s not on a par with your Benburbs of the world, but it’s a very decent sized structure all the same and very pleasant to look at.

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It’s pretty much all there is to see really though. A couple of dugouts, a very strange looking turnstile and that’s your lot. Undoubted bonus points are awarded for the clubhouse also having a climbing wall inside of it, but we left in a bit of a hurry.

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It’s definitely one that’s nice to have checked off the list, and not a waste of time visiting, but you’d have to be nearby to make it worthwhile going to see.

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Edgeley Park (Stockport County)

Woah there! What the?! But Stockport isn’t in Scotland! As promised last week here’s a football ground from south of the border, although I’m sure normal service will be resumed soon.

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I was doing a little gig in Stockport during the late nights so had to weigh up how worthwhile it was turning up three hours early compared to just giving it a miss or doing it in the dark. Thankfully I caught it just in the nick of time which is a relief as there wouldn’t be much to see. The bad light has already given these photos a weird 60s porn type soft focus!

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Edgeley Park is a bit of a mix of stands. There’s one giant one that sits behind one of the goals and is comfortably the biggest structure there. All I could see of it was from the main road as the car park was closed but it’s impressive in size an there’s not much to pick at.

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Two of the stands seemed tricky to access but I was in a hurry, one is an uncovered seating area that apparently used to be a terrace, but more importantly there appear to be stairs to access it. Go on Stockport County! They know how to win points on this blog.

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Of the two stands that run along the touchlines, one was a case of peering through gaps on fences but the other is a thing of beauty. Built in the 1930s it’s a lovely piece of architecture and whilst I dread to think what it’s like to watch a game from, there’s no denying it’s wonderful to look at from the outside with blue bricks topping it off nicely.

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We don’t rate the grounds on this blog. With bonus marks for everything from the stadium having steps to whether there’s a long jump pit nearby, it’s too hard to gauge scientifically. Edgeley Park would score a 7/10 if we were though. It’s not spectacular but it’s more than satisfying enough to be an enjoyable trip if you’re nearby. It’s even got a blue English Heritage plaque to prove it.

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Recreation Park (Ormiston)

When is a football ground not a football ground? That seems quite a meta-heavy question for a usually straight forward easy going flim flam of a blog. However in the case of Scottish junior side Ormiston, you’d be quite close to an answer.

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The next instalment of our Scottish adventure took us from Haddington up the road to the tiny village of Ormiston, one of the smallest communities represented in the East of Scotland league. It wasn’t until we arrived that we read a preview that said “this isn’t so much a football ground and more of a public park.” That’s pretty accurate although it makes for an odd but ideal venue.

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At a lot of the grounds we encountered some kindly spirits from the clubs opened them up for us to wander around, meaning there wasn’t the usual worry about what was visible. With Ormiston that wasn’t an issue – it’s essentially a playing field in the middle of a park, albeit one with a stand.

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And that, for me, makes it a football ground. A very strange one indeed, but with fencing around the pitch, dug outs (albeit made entirely from intimidating heavy metal) and a stand. What more does it need before it qualifies as a ground?

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If you’re thinking “changing rooms, Andy, that’s what it needs” the. It also has them, even if they look slightly dingy. The front has been spruced up with a huge spray painted mural which makes it look both better and worse than it probably is. But there’s a balcony there too that offers a view of the pitch.

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It’s difficult to really rate this one due to its unique nature. As a football tourist everything is there to see. It’s slap bang in the middle of a park and you can wander around it at will. It’s not the most impressive of homes, but as the hub of a tiny community I’m not going to knock it. It takes effort to keep such a small operation going and for that the club and its staff deserve nothing but praise.

* Next week we’ll probably have a brief break from Scottish grounds and do somewhere in England. Probably Stockport. Just like Home and Away when it’s not on at Christmas.

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