The ProAct Stadium (Chesterfield)

I’m going to stick my neck out and say well done to Chesterfield on this one. It’s a bland new football stadium but they’ve done enough with it to score a decent amount of marks from me.
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Saltergate was a magnificent old ground and the move to somewhere that has only ever been known by its sponsor’s name was a sad if necessary move for Chesterfield.
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Since my visit the club have opened a memorial garden, dedicated to players who’ve served in the war as well as fans and players who have also passed, and I’d certainly suggest that will add a little personality to the place.
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I’d also guess that since my visit, the club have also moved the skip that was simply labelled as “grass”. I’ve no idea why it tickled me so much, but I think the sign was the most curious thing I noted. Unless it was where an informant had been dumped rather than some cuttings.
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There was also a weird amount of bins sat in the car park. No idea why, and it didn’t ruin anything for me. If anything, it may be a new category worth us adding to the football ground awards ceremony (ticket info will soon be avilable for this).
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One slight bone of contention – I’m not a big fan of “walls of fame”. I think that’s the right plural. Wall of fames definitely doesn’t seem right. Anyway, on Chesterfield’s, I noticed this.
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I’m sorry Paul Ryan, but unless you’re genuinely infamous, in which case I’d suggest the club remove your brick, don’t you make yourself out to be some sort of weird badass. We’ll decide if you’re proper gangster, and we’ve just voted no.
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Thankfully we’ve voted yes to The ProAct Stadium being a badass. Actually, I’ve just read that sentence back to myself and I’m starting to change my mind…
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My book is most definitely badass and you can buy it by clicking here. Thanks!

 

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Woodhorn Lane (Ashington)

Yes! We did it! It seems like an age ago that I first posted some photographs of the rubble here in Northumberland, followed by a weekly update on how things were progressing as Ashington built their new AkzoNobel stand.
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If you’re new to this blog, just flick back each week for a new installment. Safe to say this is the last one though! Although I’ve covered Woodhorn Lane previously, with the photographs even appearing in When Saturday Comes, it seemed appropriate to revisit.
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What do I think of the new stand then? It’s certainly beautiful. The wood from the outside, the club emblem, they’re certainly really nice touches and add a touch of class. The whole thing looks well done.
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I’m hoping it’s not quite finished – at present there’s not really a tunnel of sorts. Players just have to walk over a bit of plywood protecting them from mud as they enter the pitch. They emerge from underneath the stand, so something a little grander than walking the plank would be nice.
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I’m also hoping they move a couple of the old stands. Brilliantly, two have been added to either side of the smaller covered seating so it looks quite impressive, but the remaining parts have just been moved to a field behind the ground. It would be great if they could be moved back in and it’ll really give it the feel of a stadium.
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In terms of the new stand itself, I only really have one minor critique and that is that the area for cameras makes it impossible for those sat on the back row to see one half of the pitch. So if you’re visiting for a game, make sure you don’t sit too near the back. I’d say third the middle row is probably your best bet.
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I hope that doesn’t come across as me being too negative. It’s a fantastic stand. Right up there with the best in the Northern League, and with the bar being easy to access now as well, it should make watching games at Ashington a brilliant experience. Well worth a visit.
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Woodhorn Lane… oh no we’re done now – here’s the rest of the photos!
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Causeway Lane (Matlock Town)

On a similar note to last week, I’ve been waiting to show you this one for ages. I thought it had gone missing when my phone broke but thankfully it surfaced recently and here it is!
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I bloody love Matlock. It’s a gorgeous picturesque town in Derbyshire, and also home to one of my favourite gigs in the country. The Loft bar, where Jason Manford runs a monthly night, is an absolutely brilliant night and now very much a highlight of my year when I get to go and do it.
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The football ground is great too, if somewhat quirky. Part of the pitch is shared by the cricket club, meaning that one end is entirely open as it backs onto a cricket pitch. I’m not entirely sure whether it’s a positive or negative for me, but the rest is great. I’ve seen recent pictures with a fence behind the goal – I’ve no idea if that’s permanent or just for match days.
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I hit lucky in that there was a cricket game in progress when I visited. If not then there won’t be as much to see from the outside, but the town itself is beautiful enough to make up for it if not. As for the ground, there’s a newer big stand that houses the dug outs, and also offers a raised view of the pitch even from the front rows.
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Opposite is a rickety old affair, a combination of seats and standing decked out in blue and white paint. It’s wonderfully pleasing on the eye and then there’s a covered terrace behind one goal.
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The club are also nicknamed “The Gladiators”. If you’re a fan of 90s television then you’ll agree with me that this wins special bonus points as well.
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Personally, I’ll always welcome a visit to Matlock, and it’d be worth your while trying to time a visit with when the comedy club runs. But the football ground alone, sitting at the bottom of some picturesque Derbyshire countryside, is one to check out. A big thumbs up.
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Woodhorn Lane Update
Well after a game against a Newcastle United XI last night, the new stand is eventually open! I’ve nipped across twice this week to take a couple of pictures and each time my camera has died. It’s probably a better idea just to revisit Woodhorn Lane next week with plenty of images for you. But this is the final ever Woodhorn Lane Update. We did it!
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If you love Matlock then you’ll love my book! Even though it’s not mentioned anywhere in it!

Grounsell Park (Heaton Stannington)

Bloody loved this ground, I did! Sorry to start the blog with such coarse language, folks, but it’s true. I’ve been looking forward to showing this one off for ages.
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Annoyingly it’ll be barely visible if the ground itself isn’t open. Tucked away in the Newcastle suburb of Heaton, the club is over 100 years old but I’ll bet there’s a lot of people don’t even know it’s there.
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I was fortunate enough to be gigging inside the stadium itself in a beautifully sized clubhouse that was perfect for the job. But the best bit was a quick wander around the ground.
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A tiny prefabricated stand isn’t what we want to see, but is smaller than most similar efforts which at least wins it some good will. However, that’s not what got me the most excited. We have another winner of a football ground category.
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With loads of residents using some of the club’s land as an extension of their garden, this comfortably wins the award for “most amount of greenhouses in a football stadium”. Even if it’s only two, I’ll be absolutely delighted if we ever see somewhere that steals its crown.
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With a covered porch also offering fans a view of the game, it’s a great little corner of the world. Points off for goals on wheels, points back on for the mis-spelling of the word “etc”.
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But regardless, the greenhouse action alone makes it a necessary addition to anyone’s travels.

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Woodhorn Lane Update
So what happens when you spend ages complaining that nothing seems to be happening and you’re bored of looking at it? Deep fog for a week so you can barely see the thing at all. Unless they’ve knocked it down after my moaning. Oh dear…
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Want to know what’s better than a greenhouse in a football stadium? MY BOOK!

Also, one final last push for tickets to my show at Meadow Lane, home of Notts County, next week. Tickets and further info available by clicking here.