Tag Archives: Football

Tiverton Park (Bath City)

A Saturday night in Bath followed by an early start in Manchester the following morning left me with something of a dilemma, football wise – Bath City or Bristol Rovers?

If it had been any other Sunday, I’d have done both plus dropped by Ashton Gate for a bit of Bristol City. As it was, I had the mrs in tow, and needed to be in Manchester early on so I really had to narrow it down. After giving it way too much thought than was necessary, I decided that the name of the game is really visiting the stadia of the place I’m in, and so I settled on Tiverton Park. And I’m sort of glad I did.

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It’s a grand old ground, one that almost looks too big for the level of football it hosts (Conference South), but it seems proper. There’s old terracing to give it the feel of a proper ground, a big massive grandstand and good old fashioned turnstiles. Also, you have to walk up steps to get in.

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That might not seem like a massive deal, but my earliest memories of watching football as a child involved walking up steps, reaching the top and then seeing a lush sea of green below. I don’t know what it is about that elevated position that makes the grass greener or the view any more exhilarating, but it’s something missing on a lot of ground level football stadiums.

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With time being of the essence, there was little time for anything other than a mooch around the main stand, although it appears that there’s only really one side of the stadium you can get in through. I could be wrong – one thing is for certain though, and that’s Bath’s insistence on being pleasant and welcoming to officials with various signs discouraging disrespect or foul language. It’s a really lovely touch that wins them massive points from me.

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One let down was the bloke who wandered out of the main entrance and stood there with a cigarette, glaring at me as I took my photos. Maybe he’d have been alright if I’d approached, maybe he was waiting for me to make the first move, but he had an air of hostility about him that made me glad to get back in the car.

Aside from him, this is a beauty of a non-league ground.

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AFC Fylde (Kellamergh Park)

A weekend of gigs in Liverpool should, by the letter of the law, mean a trip to either Anfield or Goodison Park for a meander around however I ended up staying with my dad in Blackpool.20130423-022848.jpg

“Not to worry,” I hear you cry, “we’ll settle for a saunter round Bloomfield Road.” Erm, not quite. After arriving late in Blackpool on Friday night and drinking way into Saturday morning, me and Papa Fury were nursing sore heads but in need of a football fix. With Blackpool away to Brighton, we decided to take in the nearest game to us, AFC Fylde vs Stafford Rangers in the Evo-stick League.

Fylde, located on the coast about 10 minutes from Blackpool, presented an enticing day out. Managed by Dave Challinor (of 1990s long throw in fame) and backed by a wealthy chairman, their current ambition is to reach the Football League, and with plans to relocate from their Kellamergh Park home this may be my only visit there.

Our arrival presented us with a well-run club in a tiny stadium, albeit packed out with around 400 of the friendliest football folk you could wish for. Perched in the middle of farmland with plenty of onlooking sheep, there were three brand spanking new stands (one genuinely about the width of the goal) with standing on the far touch line.

There was a ridiculous oversized scoreboard and the bizarre sight of a TV gantry. Coupled with old farm buildings for changing rooms and a refreshment hit and some portakabin executive boxes, it was a ground oozing enough quirky charm to appeal to me!

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We plonked ourselves beside the away dug out and were bored senseless by their gobshite manager, albeit mildly amused by his constant whining and bullshit, which was peaked by one of the club officials telling some passing fans at half time “we’re gonna need a big performance from you lads in the second half.” A chairman giving his fans a half time pep talk? He managed to sound an even bigger tit than Delia Smith, despite his apparent sobriety. Shame on you, weird Stafford fuckwit! The worst bit was realising that with Rangers being slap bang in the middle of the table, they had absolutely zero riding on this result.

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Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable albeit dull game in pleasant surrounds. Whether Fylde achieve the dreams their backer has for them I don’t know, but Kellamergh Park, aside from being the most difficult name to spell in world football, was a pleasant experience. There’s absolutely nothing to it for a fan of stadia, so I couldn’t recommend it for stadium spotters, but it’s well worth a visit if you’re after taking in a random match at a welcoming club.

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Greenock Morton (Cappielow)

Today I had a day to kill in Greenock which could mean only one thing – a visit to the home of football, Cappielow.

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I’d never been to Greenock before – and I dare say it’ll be a while before I’m back – but that’s not for want of trying.

A couple of feelers were put out for things to do on a rainy Wednesday in this sleepy little town on the river Clyde and no responses were offered, save for “go somewhere else.” One friend even suggested it was similar to my home town Hebburn, albeit 20 years ago.

It’s safe to say Greenock’s certainly an industrial town. Even scattered amongst newer developments are reminders of the city’s past (and possibly present). The walk from the town centre along the river to Cappielow was bracing, but in horrendous rainy weather my enjoyment was limited. My hat seemed to serve only to soak up water and keep it on my head, rather than protect me from the elements.

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Arriving at the home of Greenock Morton I felt at home almost right away. Whilst it’s almost certainly one of the only football grounds with a Volkswagon dealership built into its turnstiles, it smacks of old school charm with a massive terrace just about visible.

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A walk around the ground didn’t give much away as to what was inside. It’s absolutely featureless from the outside, and had it not been for an open gate for the club’s community staff I mightn’t have any inkling as to what was within, as even the lampposts are kitted out to prevent anyone peering over.

It turns out that that’s completely pointless, as a bank opposite the stadium provides the perfect vantage point of a wonderful football stadium. A huge exposed terrace, seats either side, and a perfect green pitch. This is how I remember football. I can only imagine the place absolutely rocking when it’s full. I was in love immediately.

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No club shop on site so it was a 30 minute walk into town, through their Back To The Future themed shopping centre (if Oak Tree Mall isn’t remotely named with a nod to the Twin Pines Mall then they lose major points) and off to a random sports shop to find a Greenock Morton mug. I realised then that I’d fallen in love with the place big style. I &didn’t just want a cup that I’d bought for novelty value alone. I wanted something to cherish forever. So I snapped up two pairs of GMFC socks and got the hell out of there.

I should stress I didn’t need two pairs of socks, they were sold as a duo. I’ll write to the club to complain about that little scam. But in the meantime, god bless Greenock Morton Football Club and all who sail in her.

A wonderful football ground and a smashing (albeit rainy) day out.

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