The Football Wanderer

The Football Wanderer Blog by Billy Clark

Bloomfield Road - 2nd February 2017

Hello and welcome back to the TFW blog, today's blog is about Bloomfield Road in Blackpool. Bloomfield Road was originally known as Gamble's Field, named for the farmer who owned the field. South Shore F.C. played there in the Lancashire League, 1899.

Blackpool is a popular tourist town in Lancashire, in the Northwest of England. Bloomfield Road is a decently sized stadium, a 17,338-capacity seater. You used to get in by the main entrance on Bloomfield Road. After all the renovations, however, the main entrance is now through the Mathews Stand on the west side. This is off of Seasiders Way.

Blackpool is a popular tourist town in Lancashire, in the Northwest of England. Bloomfield Road is a decently sized stadium, a 17,338-capacity seater. You used to get in by the main entrance on Bloomfield Road. After all the renovations, however, the main entrance is now through the Mathews Stand on the west side. This is off of Seasiders Way.

If you're coming by car, you should enter Blackpool from the M55, first follow for A583, and then the B5390 toward the Town Centre. Turn left onto Bloomfield Road, for which the stadium is named, in about 500 meters. There are three large car parks around the stadium. One is considered to be the largest football parking stadium in England, so that should help with parking.

Bloomfield Road is home to not just football games. It also hosts quite a few concerts, including Rod Stewart, Neil Diamond, and some reggae concerts. Of course, betting on football games is as common in Blackpool as anywhere else. Understanding some basic rules of sports betting is a great idea if you want to get into this side of football.

Bloomfield Road has been the permanent home of Blackpool F.C. since 1901, and was the 68th ground to host a Football League game. It has been under constant reconstruction since June 2000. It is a smart and modern stadium now. North, West and South stands are all connected, and the acoustics are very decent.

I like the atmosphere of the place, very modern and fitting for Blackpool. Overall it's a fairly decent place to visit, and they have certainly had some exciting games in the past. Such as when Blackpool beat their first continental visitors, FK Austria Wien, 4 - 3 in 1935, and the Margate, 3 - 1, in 1936. It has also been host to many match games, and big league games. Prince William visited in November, 2010.

Happy Wanderering,

The Football Wanderer.

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Cappielow - 24th September 2016

Hello and welcome back to the TFW blog due to me going Scotland very last minute last week I couldn't write a blog; I do apologise for that however it gives me something to write back about today and that's Cappielow at Greenock Morton.

My brother was staying up in Edinburgh during the week and he phoned me up and told me to come meet him, from London it cost me £4 for a return coach to Glasgow so I thought "why not!". So after having a look at the main stadia in Glasgow i.e Ibrox, Parkhead etc, I messaged my friend Gareth who lives in Greenock (About 40 minutes away on a train) and asked him if he could organise a tour around Cappielow for me. A ground that's been on my hit list for quite a while and to my delight he did. Cappielow's nearest station is Cartsdyke not Greenock (Central or West) so that's a useful hint straight away! From the station it's a 5-10 minute walk, walk to the bottom of the road turn right keep walking straight, cross the road, pass the Norseman pub on your right and turn right up the street and Greenock Morton will be on your right.

A classic Scottish ground with some great terracing and a wooden main stand, what more can you ask for? Oh yeah. Floodlight pylons ;) (In case you haven't noticed I like Floodlight Pylons). On entering the ground past the offices you go through a traditional gate one like Bootham Crescent; and then we went right and onto the Sinclair Street Stand which is a decent sized terrace behind the goal however it is open to the elements so be prepared, it was lashing it down when I went but I was happy to experience Greenock in its glory. We carried on around the ground onto the famous cowshed! This is where the most vocal home supporters stand to cheer on there team, a classic stand which has so much character from the traditional crush barriers onto the rusting beams in your way, this stand has a roof however it moves in the wind but don't be alarmed I'm sure it'll be fine. Next to this is the Wee Dublin End, not usually open on matchdays but if need be it is given to away supporters with large followings. Behind this end you have the classic floodlight pylon and crane picture. Onto the Grandstand this wooden stand is covered and has the look of being hundreds of years old. I love it! This is an all seated stand and below this you'll find the dug outs which literally are dug out and deep with very uncomfortable bench seats. Good luck to away players in that.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today!

Happy Wanderering,

Billy Clark - The Football Wanderer.

Next Blog: Weds 28th September. Destination: Bloomfield Road, Blackpool

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Hillsborough - 10th September 2016

Hello and welcome back to the TFW blog. Unfortunately this week I did not visit a ground I've already blogged about (I went to Gosport Borough vs Ebbsfleet United; see below for my Privett Park blog). So I will start my first "ground of the week". When speaking to Martin Tyler yesterday, yes the one from Sky Sports and FIFA games, I asked him for a ground he really enjoys / enjoyed going to and he responded Sheffield Wednesday alas my ground of the week is Hillsborough!

Hillsborough is home to Sheffield Wednesday and is renowned for being a fantastic place to watch football and reminisce the past great football stadia. It was opened in 1899 and has a capacity of 39,812 which is all seated. It has four traditional stands and all of the stands are unique to the others in the ground. Although lacking investment you can feel the nostalgic character and feel of it being a "proper" football ground. All stands are covered; including the North Stand. Built in 1961 it was the largest cantilevered stand in Britain and was inspiring for new ground architects alike. The largest stand is the South Stand, designed by Archibald Leitch it is two tiered and is huge, although the second tier was built in 1996 alongside a roof for the stand. The team dug outs are situated on this side of the ground.

The East stand is named "The Spion Kop" and was the largest Kop in Britain at one point, but no more this belongs to Celtic's North Stand which holds 27,000 spectators. Opposite this is the West Stand. If you are a fan of floodlights like myself, or if you just like the chunky floodlights like Gareth (You know who you are mate!) then Hillsborough isn't the ground for you, sorry. It has modern floodlights running along the roofs of the stands. There is room for expansion where you can add a second tier onto the West Stand and fill in the corners, should Wednesday utilise this option then capacity could reach around 45,000. Normal Away allocation for Hillsborough is 3,700.

I hope you enjoyed today's blog and sorry it's a bit shorter than normal however Hillsborough is a ground I've yet to visit and I usually write my blog's from first-hand experience. However thank you for taking the time to read this once again.

Happy Wanderering,

Billy Clark - The Football Wanderer.

Next Blog: Weds 14h September. Destination: TBC

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Marsh Lane - 3rd September 2016

Marsh Lane was opened in 1993 and in my opinion it's quite a pleasant day out. Easy to locate and find straight off the A40 towards Cheltenham. It's quite an open ground but character is introduced by the gates from their old stadium, The White House Ground, pinned up next to the entrance by the club house. Although there is not much to write home about. It's a plain; open ground which lacks any wow-factor. In fact it's official capacity can only hold 2,000 and the average attendance a mere 321 from last season. Possible due to Oxford United just up the A40, however on Monday an even lower attendance of 201 supporters and United weren't even playing.

The stadium has three stands all of which straddle half way along the lengths of the pitch. At the entrance to the ground through the turnstiles are the changing rooms and club house and catering facilities. And I must say the catering facilities are quite delightful, in fact Oxford City's Marsh Lane was my 135th ground I've visited and with all due respects to other clubs, City provided the best burger I've ever had at a football ground! So perfectly balanced and so greasy, it was the stuff of non-league dreams (And league dreams for that matter!). The bun was soft holding together the thick burger cooked to perfection before being topped with some bacon fit for the king of pigs himself, then the melted cheese providing a creamy delicacy I've not experienced in my 18 years of living. MK Don's is second on my list and the "Shed Load" Burger at Chelsea my third in case you're wondering. In fact really it's the only thing I'd definitely return for.

In the other parts of the ground is a small seated stand to the west of the pitch and to the East is a small modern stand (Probably put in for league standard) and a good sized terrace to the left of this. Still continuing up the pitch on your left just before you reach the corner flag you'll find a disabled ramp disabled patrons can use, I did find it amusing as there was a do not climb sign on it. To complete the stadium you have another good sized terrace at the north.

All in all Oxford is a great day out and I would recommend a visit to those groundhoppers that want to experience a taste of pure greasy class. Thank you Oxford City for such a nice burger. And thank you once again for reading this weeks blog.

Happy Wanderering,

Billy Clark - The Football Wanderer.

Next Blog: Weds 7th September. Destination: TBC

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Stamford Bridge - 26th August 2016

Hello and welcome back to the TFW blog; today's blog is about Stamford Bridge.

Stamford Bridge was built back in 1877 some 28 years before Chelsea Football Club were founded. It is one of many great stadia designed by the great Scot Archibald Leitch. Archibald Leitch is a bit of an idol to me I've always been inspired by his traditional well built to last stadia. He and Simon Inglis make up the perfect pair for football stadia and whenever I feel the need to research such stadia I always look towards them.

Back to Stamford Bridge, Stamford Bridge is nowadays a 41,663 all seater stadium and is located at Fulham Road SW6, London. The nearest Tube Station is Fulham Broadway, be wary as there are not too many pubs located nearby for away fans so from what I'm told fans usually get off at Earl's Court and enjoy a nice beverage there before making their way to the ground. Now any stadia in London can be a right pain in the butt to get too. I advise possibly parking on the outskirts of London and getting a tube / train into the centre if you can. Avoid driving in London at all costs if I were you especially with the nasty congestion charge.

Stamford Bridge has 4 stands, The East Stand, Matthew Harding (North) Stand, West Stand and The Shed (South Stand). The biggest of which is the East Stand, this huge stand has three tiers and is adjacent to the away supporters. It is where I most often sit, you get great views especially if you're in the East Upper (As long as you don't suffer from Vertigo you'll be fine) on the front of the East Stand is the dug outs. The players emerge from here at the start of the games. Located next to the third tier where it merges with the Shed End is an enormous screen, there is also one opposite at the West / Matthew Harding corner, opposite the East Stand is the West Stand, not as big but still bigger than most stadia in the UK, this stand provides a great match day experience, the concourse huge and with it being modern the views are totally unrestricted and no matter where you sit you're guaranteed a great view. The Upper tier is the most expensive match day ticket but you get amazing views, comfy seats and the best thing, in my opinion, heaters for games during the winter months!

The Shed and the Matthew Harding are very symmetrical to each other at both ends of the stadium. Both are two tiered and provide good atmosphere, The Shed is where away fans are situated in the Eastern Corner and are allocated both the bottom and top tier, if you can avoid the bottom and buy for the upper tier I suggest you do so as in the Lower you can get some bum seats with restricted views, especially if you stand throughout the game. You can not miss out on the famous Shed Load Burger (Although I'm not sure if they're for sale in the away end) these are simply divine although pricey the quality is unrivalled in football, maybe they would have a battle with the pies at Morecambe but for burgers, just like the team, they're far supreme for any opposition.

All jokes aside, thank you once again for reading my blog, if you do want to get in touch please do so via email to info@tothe92.co.uk with the subject line "The Football Wanderer".

Happy Wanderering,

Billy Clark - The Football Wanderer.

Next Blog: Weds 31st August. Destination: Marsh Lane, Oxford City

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Privett Park - 19th August 2016

"Oh Privett Park. is wonderful! Oh Privett Park is wonderful; it has two stands but no terrace! Oh Privett Park is wonderful" This is one of many chants the Boro' barmy army sing during the game and one in which has details of the stadia. Since chanting this song the fans may receive what they wish for, a terrace at the underdeveloped north end of the stadium. These are the rumours spreading around Gosport Borough at the moment.

Privett Park has some character but lacks in all honesty. The big character inducer is the 700 seater all wooden stand on the West side of the ground, it runs for about half the length of the pitch and was all bench seats until a couple of years ago when Gosport were looking for promotion into the National Premier, 4 divisions below the Premier League. This stand has some pillars which may impede view but these are the pillars of success within the club. I am never negative towards a stadium! It also has an outstanding press box at the back of this stand which is a throwback to the traditional past and adds more reasons to take photos from this 1939 reminder. Also down the West side of the stadium you have the club shop which was redeveloped during the summer and taken over by the supporters club, Jock's tea bar with its reasonably priced food and drink and the prawn sandwich brigade have their two storey hospitality building which comparing being modern still has restricted views?

The East side of the stadium has the modern Harry Mizen stand, named after a former club president, is a bright spanking new stand with 300 seats. The stand is cantilevered and has nothing to block your view. In this stand you have some seats reserved for disabled fans. Along this side of the ground is much room for improvement if necessary and that's what the Mizen stand offers, if required it can be built on the South side of the stand and increased to add seats and / or maybe a little terrace. Right in the South East corner is the pass holders and season ticket holders turnstile.

The South side features the clubhouse which to my tasting is a bit expensive but it's good quality for what you pay for and the customer service is exemplary. Now my favourite part of Privett, atmosphere is a key thing for me at football and Privett has a family friendly atmosphere. Ask anyone at the ground and they could not tell you the last time a game got segregated and that shows the niceness of the club and their fans! In one corner of the clubhouse under a mini roof by the goal is a giant flag and this area is called "The Bear Pit" often you would find a giant lifelike bear in his Boro' colours and a smaller bear who is his son. You are probably thinking "what the heck" and laughing but this only adds to the fun atmosphere you're bound to receive. This is where you could find me most matchdays; just ask for Billy Clark and they'll point you in my direction! You have Alex the drummer, John the loud mouth goon (sorry John!), Jake, Dom, Geoff, Matt and Oscar. That pretty much makes up the barmy army! More like a platoon but it's what we make of it that counts.

So if you're looking for a fun day out and a nice quaint ground to visit be sure to pop by at Privett, you'll always be welcome in the bear pit!

Billy Clark - The Football Wanderer.

Next Blog: Weds 24th August. Destination: Stamford Bridge, Chelsea

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Bremen - 10th August 2016

Hello and welcome back to the TFW blog, today's blog is about my trip to Werder Bremen Vs Chelsea in a pre-season friendly on Sunday 7th August.

Bremen is a fantastic city in North West Germany, it has a population of roughly 550,000 people and in the heart of the city (Approximately 1KM from the City Centre) is the WeserStadion, home to Werder Bremen. When walking from the city centre along the river Weser is a long winding path with some small green mounds and great views of old industrial buildings still in use. At the end of the path a large spaceship like structure emerges from beyond the trees. A modern day structure surrounded by metal and floodlight for antennas!

As you go for a leisurely stroll you could always stop and lay on the hills to soak up the sun and have a freshly brewed Beck's from across the water or you can take the more adventurous route and take a boat to the ground. I cannot recommend a Bratwurst by the river highly enough, for 2 Euro 50 cents it's great value for money and is simply divine.

When approaching the stadium from the path the guest (Gast for those German Speakers) turnstiles are right in front of you; however I went for a walk around the ground first to take in the atmosphere and even got a free bag of jelly babies! The outside lacks at the moment as there was a lot of construction work still going on, for those that went Anfield last season you will understand how it looks. On entry to the WeserStadion be prepared for a thorough bag search and body search, you can however store your bags in storage during the game once you walk through the gates. Be prepared for a few flights of stairs to get to the top tier where away fans are housed. The view is tremendous and the concourse huge and open, toilets seemed fairly clean however these are small. It is expensive for food and drink in the concourse, 4 Euro's for a coke and then 1 Euro for the cup, which you get returned when bringing back the cup. You can take alcohol onto the terrace / seats and have a fag too! I hope none of you are too picky about metal fences and nets in front of you; they don't block your view too much unless you focus on them. The stadium, although having a capacity of 42,358, can have some expansion works down on the North and South side, adding an extra tier of seating and filling in the North East and South East corners can well boost the capacity, I would guestimate to over 50,000 but I can't say for sure. The leg room between rows are good and you don't feel squeezed in at all (Although I was in a terrace with about 30 other fans, the other 40 odd were in the seats to my right).

On leaving I was upset to go but deep down I know I will return to this beautiful city sometime and get to see another match here in the future.

Thanks once again for reading,

Billy Clark - The Football Wanderer.

Next Blog: Weds 17th August. Destination: Privett Park, Gosport

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Intro - 7th August 2016

Hello and welcome to my new blog. I am the football wanderer and every Week I shall be posting a new blog right here on tothe92.co.uk. The blog will include stories my football wandering with the intention of helping you to understand Football Stadia better.

So who am I? - I'm a unique individual that likes to spend his hard earned dosh on watching the sport I love most. My weekends consist of watching football and researching weird, wonderful and colourful grounds. I am a working class man who wants football to be available to all and cheap; not overly priced unlike today's game that has ultimately suffered in a working class decline simply due to costs and affordability. Curse me for my sins but alas I am a Chelsea supporter. However, when I can't get tickets I travel with my local team Gosport Borough, the area I moved to some moons ago. They compete in the sixth division so I get the best of non­league and the professional game.

What is my blog about?? - We all love the beautiful game, the feeling of walking up to a brand new stadium for a top of the league clash or a relegation divider. My blog is to help you understand the life of a football supporter such as myself, travelling up and down the country (And Europe for that matter!). Although I can't go to a game every week, I will keep the blog updated by adding a Ground Of The Week section when I do not travel, so keep an eye out for your team and stadium. This will include photo's, statistics and helpful guides which might enable others to experience the joy and sadness in which football brings.

How can you help? - You already are helping by reading this, so thank you. Also you can always give feedback on my blogs by popping an email to info@tothe92.co.uk with the subject 'The Football Wanderer' or if you have any suggestions or want to get involved, we're always happy to help. You could drop us a like on Twitter / Facebook too which will include weekly links to the blogs and some outstanding photography.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you've enjoyed my brief introduction to what is going to be a popular new section, I hope!

Happy wandering,

Billy Clark - The Football Wanderer.

Next Blog: Weds 10th August. Destination: Bremen, Germany.

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