Thursday, November 26, 2009
2018 WC bid in good hands?
The government last night rejected Everton's plans to build a 50,000-seater stadium in Kirkby, plans that were not helped I’m sure by comments such as those from Liverpool City Councillor Warren Bradley who described it as "a glorified cow shed built in a small town outside Liverpool.” His very own council will today submit their application to be considered as a host city for the 2018 World Cup, with the Kirkby stadium included in the proposal!!!
This all assumes that England will actually win the bid of course, and this cause was not helped when Sir Dave Richards resigned from England WC 2018 committee sending the whole thing into (even more) disarray.
An announcement from the very same committee earlier in the week listed the Olympic Stadium as one of four London World Cup Venues. However, by 2018 the stadium should, according to government approved plans, have been downsized from 80,000-seats to a permanent 28,000-seat athletics venue.
Along with that of Liverpool City Council, applications from other hopeful host cities are due in later today. Sadly Portsmouth have withdrawn from the selection process following Pompey’s much publicized financial problems and the council’s refusal to back the redevelopment of Fratton Park with rate payers money. Meanwhile Milton Keynes, a conurbation with nil footballing heritage believes it is in with an outside chance of hosting some matches.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Colchester United (Part 2)
14-11-2009: Colchester United 2 Exeter City 2 (Coca-Cola League One)
In Part 1 earlier this week I didn’t say much or indeed anything about what the stadium is like to watch football in. Well visually it’s just ordinary. Four stands, all of which are covered, single tiered and all seated. The main stand, on the west touchline, is taller than the others with a row of executive boxes running along the back. The other three are just plain seating areas although the south stand has, as viewed from the pitch, a police control room on the right hand side.
Entry into the stands is via electronic turnstiles that take you onto a concourse with the usual catering facilities, betting booth, toilets, etc. All seats are reached via entrances at the bottom of the stand. There’s a reasonable amount of legroom and, as you would expect in a new stadium, decent views to be had of the action as it unfolds. A largish scoreboard/TV screen sits in the corner between the south and east stand, the former allocated to away supporters.
There is a shuttle bus service running to and from Colchester railway station and the ground. The stop is about 150 yards away from the station entrance in front of “Big Yellow Storage”. A return will cost you just £1.00. The journey takes less than 10 minutes although we did have to wait around 15 minutes for a bus after the game (although this was before there was any sign of cars being allowed to leave the official car park).
Where to eat and drink? Well, as I mentioned in Part 1 there doesn’t look to be much in the immediate area so, you can either entertain yourself in the town before catching a shuttle bus from the station out to the stadium or, if you’re feeling a bit more intrepid, head out, as we did, to Mersea Island a 30 minute taxi ride directly south.
If you like seafood then this is the place to be. Not only is the island home to the renowned Oyster Bar (not visited today) but also the excellent Company Shed. Adjacent to a yard full of yachts and other boats is a large weathered clapper-board shed that was originally an oyster cleaning shed but is now a restaurant and fishmongers. There’s around ten tables covered with wipe clean tablecloths, you can’t make a reservation and you must bring your own drinks and bread. All a bit spit and saw dust but there aren’t many places where you can get a half dozen oysters and a heaping seafood platter comprising shrimp, prawn, cockles, mackerel, crab and lobster for a mere £15.00. Well worth the effort but don’t take my word for it.
Back to the football and it was good to see Marcus Stewart in action again. This time for current club Exeter. Stewart was just a couple of goals shy of finishing as top scorer in the Premiership in Ipswich’s 5th place finish in 2000-01, as well as scoring some key goals in the previous campaign as Town won a place at the top table of English football via the play-offs. As a former Blue Stewart was subject to booing by some sections of the home crowd today. It must really rankle with the Col U fans that their hatred for Ipswich is met with total indifference by Suffolk folk.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Suffolk Premier Cup
10-11-2009: Ipswich Town Reserves 4 Haverhill Rovers 0 (Suffolk Premier Cup Quarter-Final)
Words to follow.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Colchester United (Part 1)
10-11-2009: Colchester United Reserves 1 Peterborough United Reserves 2 (Pontins Football Combination)
Well I set out expecting to be disappointed – as I have been with most new grounds and certainly was at the similarly sized Prostar Stadium in Shrewsbury earlier in the season – but it must be said that Colchester United’s one-year old Weston Community Stadium didn’t (disappoint) overall.
You reach the stadium via a business park but it’s set some distance away from it’s nearest neighbour and the surrounding open space will benefit from the 10,000 trees that are due to be planted in the area (one for each of the stadiums seats).
There’s a 700-space car park adjacent to the stadium and that, apart from a few bike sheds dotted about, is it as far as the exterior is concerned. If there are pubs or eateries of any consequence nearby they are not immediately obvious.
Inside it’s a bit like an open plan office with a John Constable landscape painting propped up in each corner, although one of those corners peers over traffic speeding by on the A12 faster than a haywain ever would (most of the time). Featureless on the outside the facilities inside the main stand set it apart from other new builds.
The 100 plus cars in the car park – far more than would be necessary to convey today’s crowd to the game – is a clue that many non-footballing activities take place at the stadium during the course of the week. There is a study support centre, a wedding venue, community facilities, a 400-seat corporate meeting room, and, across the otherside of the car park, five-a-side football pitches for local use.
This is all in line with the planning consent (and the part funding agreements reached with the local council) that ensured that the facilities at the new stadium should provide for activities other than a football match every other weekend, and for which the whole scheme received an RICS Award earlier in the year.
Footballing wise the highlight of the afternoon (my first Bovril for several years excepted) was the five-minute hold-up while a member of the ground staff went hunting for a new corner flag. A Colchester’s player had kicked out at said flag - after fluffing a cross - breaking the pole a foot above the ground.
Common sense would perhaps suggest that play continue but the referee was having none of it (quite rightly I discovered later when I checked the laws of the game) and a farcical delay ensued while a replacement was found.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Kirkley & Pakefield
07-11-2009: Kirkley & Pakefield 3 Debenham LC 0
Today’s outing begins in Aldeburgh, twenty odd miles to the south of the afternoon’s game in Lowestoft, at The Scallop by Maggi Hambling. Made from stainless steel, the controversial sculpture sits on the beach just a short walk from Aldeburgh town centre and was commissioned to celebrate the life of the internationally famed composer Benjamin Britten who lived, and died, in the Suffolk town.
Incidentally, Ipswich Town manager Roy Keane lives in Aldeburgh and no doubt takes advantage of the excellent walks available in the area, particularly along the beach, to give Triggs a bit of exercise.
As well as being perhaps the greatest English composer of operatic music ever Benjamin Britten was also a pianist of not inconsiderable note and I had the privilege of watching him in concert with violinist Yehudi Menuhin at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds when I was still in short trousers.
As an up and coming (and ultimately pretty awful) cellist I was given the ticket at school in recognition of my musical talents! Can’t remember who I went with but do remember riding to and from the Theatre in the back seat of a great big smeg off Mercedes. But I digress.
Britten was born in Kirkley, at 21, Kirkley Cliff Road to be precise, and while there is a blue plaque on the side of what is now a guest house, Kirkley has decided to keep pretty schtum about it’s greatest son, although I believe there is a Benjamin Britten High School and, bizzarely, a Benjamin Britten Shopping Centre in Lowestoft proper.
The beaches either side of the town’s Claremont Pier both won Blue Flag awards this year. Long stretches of golden sand with a wide promenade running parallel. Considerably nicer that the more popular resort of Great Yarmouth 10 miles further up the road (in Norfolk).
Kirkley and neighbouring Pakefield were formerly villages but are now districts of Lowestoft and Kirkley & Pakefield FC’s ground sits just back off the A12 as you enter the town from the south.
The club can trace it’s routes back to the 1880’s but have gone through a number of mergers, disbandments and name changes to become the Kirkley & Pakefield of today. On several occasions they have joined forces with near neighbours and local rivals Lowestoft Town, and have been known variously as Kirkley, Kirkley United, Kirkley & Waveney and, from 2007, Kirkley & Pakefield.
They joined the Ridgeons League from the Anglian Combination in 2003 and within two years had won promotion to the Premier Division aided by an eighteen match unbeaten run, including a run of nine clean sheets, to clinch third place in Division One in 2004-05.
Their most notable former player is Sir Stanley Rous, who as a young lad played for the club before the start of the Great War, later becoming a Football League referee, secretary of the FA and then president of FIFA. His most notable contribution to the game, perhaps, being the simplification of the rules of the game which he rewrote in 1938.
The record attendance at the club’s Walmer Road ground of 1,124 was set when Lowestoft Town were the visitors on Boxing Day 2005.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
A Potted (and probably inaccurate) History of Gillingham’s Gordon Road Stand
Gillingham’s Gordon Road Stand? Excuse this bit of self-indulgent rambling but there is a point. Of sorts.
1893: New Brompton Football Club, the forerunner of Gillingham Football Club, purchase the Priestfield site, lay the pitch, build a pavilion and stage their first match on September 2nd. A crowd of around 500 is on hand.
1899: A second stand is built opposite the Pavilion on the Gordon Road side. The Gordon Road Stand is born! Built by off-duty dock workers in exchange, Wikipedia suggests, for beer and cigarettes, it can seat 300 spectators. Narrow and just 30-yards long it occupies less than a third of the touchline. Nine wooden uprights support its roof with six rows of wooden bench seats below.
1920: The stand and the Gills join the Football League.
1930: The stand and the Gills are voted out of the Football League in favour of Ipswich Town (oops), but are back in 12 years and one WWII later, when the league expands from 88 to 92 clubs.
1955: The stand watches on as the ground undergoes a £28,500 facelift. The pitch is levelled (it previously had quite a noticeable slope), the terracing to its right which extended to the corner flag is re-laid and covered over. Taller than its older neighbour it maintains a reverential gap of a few feet. It’s around this time that my Grandfather becomes a Gills season ticket holder in the, yep, Gordon Road Stand.
1968 (January): Yours truly (told you there was a point to this) watches his first ever Football League game, a 1-1 draw between Gillingham and Torquay in the old Third Division, from the front row of the, you’ve guessed it, the Gordon Road Stand. Don’t recall the match at all but most certainly remember sitting in the stand, leaning on the wooden panel at front.
1968-1985: The stand continues to be lovingly preserved by the club as it watches over promotion from Division Four (1974) and a fairly pedestrian period of Third Division Football.
1985: Following the Bradford City fire the Safety of Sports Grounds Act is extended and the stand is considered too much of a fire hazard to continue in use. The void underneath the wooden stand cited as the main reason. By now the oldest stand in the League it has seated it’s very last spectators.
1995: Paul Scally takes over the Gills and soon after begins a programme of redevelopment.
1997: The grand old stand is pulled down and a new £2 Million Gordon Road Stand takes it place. A tidy modern stand which, in deference to it’s glorious predecessor comes complete with supporting pillars to impede the view of those in the rear half dozen rows. That’s progress.
Some pictures of the Priestfield Stadium taken in April 2004 can be found here.
Thank you for your attention.
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Ground Visit RecordENGLAND
(Fitness First Stadium)
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(King's Marsh Stadium)
(Alton (Bass) Sports Ground)
(Brantham Athletic Sports & Social Club)
Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton & Hove Albion
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Dagenham & Redbridge
Debenham Leisure Centre
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Felixstowe & Walton United
Great Yarmouth Town
(Wellesley Recreation Ground)
Harwich & Parkeston
Havant & Waterlooville
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Netley Central Sports
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Preston North End
Queens Park Rangers
Saffron Walden Town
(Raymond McEnhill Stadium)
Soham Town Rangers
(Julius Martin Lane)
St Albans City
(New Farm Road)
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(Stadium of Light)
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United Services Portsmouth
(Vosper Thornycroft Sports Ground)
Walsham Le Willows
(Walsham Sports Club Ground)
West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
(King George V Playing Field )
(Denplan City Ground)
(St. Georges Lane)
Heart of Midlothian
(North Sydney Oval)
SW Wacker Innsbruck
(Constant Vanden Stock Stadium)
1. FC Koeln
1. FC Union Berlin
(Stadion An der Alten Försterei)
(Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam)
(GN Bouw Stadion)
(Abe Lenstra Stadium)
(Willem II Stadion)
(Gamla Ullevi (Old))
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Tampa Bay Rowdies
(Tampa Bay Stadium)