Arcticterntalk.org

The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

Archive for the tag “football grounds”

Reflections On An Away Day At Queens Park Rangers


For fans not so familiar with London, Queens Park Rangers play at Loftus Road in West London, which is about 1.5 miles from Hammersmith and near to Shepherds Bush. The area is a curious area  and on the good side with many “expensive” cafes thats serve excellent food and a plethora of oddly named hotels. Take the New Century Inn. Not entirely clear which century it was new in but a good guess might be the 19th century and not much has changed since then. There also seems to be a desire to dig up every piece of ground nearby and the building works and roadworks are numerous.

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The cafes are good though and it may be better to feed in one of these than chance the dubious food on offer in the ground at also very extortionate prices.

Highlight of QPR v Brentford

Highlight of QPR v Brentford

A strong recommendation is to travel by underground as there are many underground stations in the vicinity , Wood Lane, White City, Shepherds Bush Market and Goldhawk road. Parking will be 7 kinds of nightmare and I do not recall seeing anywhere to park like a reasonable car park at all.

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As with all ex-premiership clubs, habits die hard and there is overkill with hundreds of stewards and police horses. The local fans however seemed in general terms pleasant enough. A number of barricades are in place mostly to stop cars but expect a little interest from the stewards at any barrier for any reason. IMG_2324IMG_2326IMG_2327

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IMG_2329Expect to be searched going into the away end and expect confusion as the entry for the Upper Tier stand behind the goal for away fans is on the opposite side of the ground for  that of the Lower Tier Stand. The searches are friendly enough but on the excessive side.

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The walk from the nearest tube stations takes maybe 10 minutes maximum. Almost all the local pubs are home supporters only, so anyone in search of alcohol may need to head a little way away from the ground. If you have time to visit the dentist then the curiously named Batman Dental Surgery is an option opposite the ground. IMG_2325

The away fans are given the stand behind one goal and if you are in the front few rows as I was you are hardly 5 yards away from being on top of the goal. A very tight ground, that generates a good atmosphere.

Entry to away end

Entry to away end

 

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Having said all that the views are excellent for the away fans. However another remnant of premiership football is the high cost of tickets, £32 for mine and the £3.50 programme.

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IMG_2335A few curious signs and pieces of information emerge on the walls of the away end. Not entirely sure what they add to the spectacle but interesting anyway.

IMG_2334This is a good day out for away fans and a trip to be encouraged but it would be good if the club realised that most fans do not create trouble and an excessive degree of policing and stewarding is a negative and expensive and unnecessary phenomenon.

 

The Clouds Lift Over Griffin Park. Brentford 3 Wolves 0


There is no doubt that Brentford have been a spiral of disaster the last 2 months, and this is reflected in the win ratio of 1 win in the previous 9 games, and in the plethora of negativity that followed the Derby debacle on saturday. Something had to change.

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Clouds over Brentford seen while flying in for the game

Fans arrived late as often they do for an evening fixture giving the impression till almost the last minute that there would be no crowd. In fact almost 9000 hardy souls braved a bitter and literally freezing evening to watch an entertaining game.

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Griffin Park By Night

There was little agreement before the game on what the outcome might be and even less agreement on the team selection other than something had to change to bring back the fighting spirit and work rate that we saw earlier in the season. In reality the summoning of two of the best players in the club, John Swift and Sergi Canos gave the side width and skill, and Nico Yennaris recovered from a hideous performance in central midfield on saturday to have an excellent game at right back. The work rate in midfield was probably double that of saturday and from the start the elevated work rate and the chances created got the crowd going. In the end a 3-0 victory did not flatter Brentford and it should have been greater. We must not however lose site of how abject Wolves were. Watching the game it was difficult to believe that they had 40 points this season and sitting seemingly in mid-table security. They were poor, very poor. Never the less a good performance that should keep the crowds interested for the remainder of the season. Yet margins are thin in this league, with Brentford comfortably winning 1-0 in the second half, only a superb save from David Button kept the Bees ahead. Conceding a goal then might have led to one of the many Brentford collapses we have seen this season.

Were there any downsides to the game? Only one for me. No cornish pasties. What kind of football catering does not have cornish pasties, forcing me to sample a Chicken Balti pie, which I can sum up as saying could be a vegetarian option lacking anything I could find that resembled chicken. Edible none the less.

Lastly a strange emerging feature of watching Brentford lately. As the crowd streams out of the New Road stand, a group of 2-3 steward looking characters in cheerful fashion thank the crowd for coming and have a safe trip home. Brentford are emerging into the customer service era and will achieve that for me when cornish pasties return.

So the gleaming clouds were an omen and indeed the sun was truly shining on Brentford and their fans at 10 pm last night.

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The Skies above Brentford before kick off

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Clouds Gleaming over Brentford

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Floodlights over Brentford

A final thought. I will miss this old ground when it goes. We know it has to and understand why but the character and atmosphere is what sums up real football , even in the absence of cornish pasties.

Griffin Park Brentford FC Painted by Vincent Van B


Painting

Griffin Park Painting

Griffin Park Painting

Griffin Park Home of Brentford Football Club


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Cobham FC Ground


Cobham FC play in the Combined Counties league and it seems Mole Valley SVR also of the CCL play their games there. A real little gem of a ground. Proper non league football. One main  stand and a fence around the pitch perimeter. Long grass surrounds the whole area. Small metallic structure behind a goal that could constitute the away end. Blue lines mark out the pitch, which I kind of liked and a banner from 2010 decorated part of the fence. This is a home of real football.

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Cobham FC

Cobham FC

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Carshalton Away Fans 2014

Carshalton Away Fans 2014

Cobham FC

Cobham FC

Cobham FC

Cobham FC

Cobham FC

Cobham FC

Cobham FC

Cobham FC

Walton and Hersham 1 Ramsgate 1


By chance the second time in a few weeks that I have seen  Ramsgate play. A decent enough game played in a low atmosphere ground with a crowd of 100 in attendance. The ground is essentially one sided now with the condemning of the main terrace stand. Walton have had a mixed start to the season under their new manager Steve Baker and on the evidence of yesterday they are a work in progress but going in the right direction. They played good football and generally were entertaining. Ramsgate played a lot more of the physical stuff and a little less of the football, but nevertheless a decent team.  The game got off to a bizarre start as firstly kick off was delayed by 45 minutes due to a major M25 accident. In the second minute Ramsgate had their full-back carried off with what looked like ligament issues. In the fith minute Ramsgate had their number 11 sent off, maybe harshly. Not long after Ramsgate scored and although Walton chased the game it was not until the 80th minute that Walton equalised with a new header from their impressive number 9, Will  Turl. He also had the opportunity to score again in the final minutes with an identical move and header but fell just short.  Interesting aspects of the game? The referee made any number of errors, do not blame him for that, but why not at least consult with the linesman?  The Ramsgate goalkeeper, although competent certainly had eaten some if not all of the pies.  All in all end to end stuff and at this level a highly entertaining game.

Something for real football fans to read and mull over the implications for many non-league clubs

Something for real football fans to read and mull over the implications for many non-league clubs

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Disallowed Walton goal.Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Disallowed Walton goal.Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe. Will Turl

Walton V Ramsgate. Copyright Chris Bushe. Will Turl

Stompond Lane. The Home of Walton and Hersham FC


Stompond lane has been the home of Walton and Hersham, who now play in the Ryman South division, ever since I began watching the club almost 50 years ago.  There have been some famous moments. Walton have played FA Cup first round games here in front of thousands of spectators including against Exeter and Brighton, managed then by Brian Clough. Walton also won the Amateur cup in 1973. Things however have been declining since then almost consistently. Far from being one of the best non-league clubs they are now one of the smallest in crowd terms at their level and things may get even worse. The council plan to redevelop Stompond Lane and force Walton and Hersham to share with their neighbours, also in Ryman South, Walton Casuals.  This plan has not been met with joy by either club however statements only  a week ago suggest that this plan to redevelop Stompond Lane is becoming fairly final.

I do not know enough to really make an informed decision here however one can see a number of aspects that make some sense. The crowd base of both clubs is around 100 each and does this warrant two individual football grounds in Walton? The population of Walton, which is where the club is based, a few miles from Hersham, in 2011 was 24,137.  Neither ground is perfect, although each has character and reasonable parking.  Yesterday I visited to see Walton play Ramsgate.  The crowd was 102. Down at Walton Casuals yesterday the crowd was 163 boosted somewhat by the good start Casuals have had to the season where they top the league.  What is currently proposed is that the two clubs share Walton Casuals ground. What might equally be proposed is that these two clubs if this happens might be candidates to merge in the future. Should either of these things happen?

  1. Stompond Lane is becoming very run down. The whole ground, and I love this ground, is becoming almost untenable. The clubhouse looks sad and jaded and does not invite visitations. The main stand has a huge number of seats missing, plastic bucket seats, that are attached to wooden benches. Many have been removed.
  2. The stand opposite the main stand had warnings yesterday that it could not be used. When this is combined with the fact that no-one stands behind the goals, as the pitch has a running track around it, meaning that behind the goal is almost placing spectators in the centre of the town, the net effect is that this is now a one sided ground with little or even zero atmosphere.
  3. The council have recently introduced parking restrictions on Stompond lane, meaning that 2 hours is the maximum one may park before being fined some hideous amount. Realistically most fans spend nearer 3 hours at each game. This means that parking is now effectively limited to the club’s car park, which is ample and fine for the kind of recent crowds, but gives little hope that the crowd base if ever improved would have anywhere to park.
  4. Should the clubs ever consider amalgamation, they would concieve a club that had a fan base at lowest of around 200 and potentially more like 250-300. This is moving towards the size needed for Ryman Premier football. Although Walton Casuals sit top of the league, should they get promoted one wonders whether things will be in any way successful or lead to an immediate return to this level.  The clubs might consider Inverness, who before joining the Scottish football league had three separate clubs. They all combined and have risen as of yesterday to actually top the Scottish Premiership. Maybe this kind of success might not happen in Walton but maybe also it should be considered. Who should vote on this? Certainly not myself, a visitor now maybe 2-3 times a season, but the 263 fans who do come week in and week out.

On my football grounds website I have many photographs of Stompond Lane and should the club move I shall add many more http://www.footballgroundz.co.uk

A good report on recent matters can also be found here

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/new-plans-submitted-stompond-lane-5908373

A few here however just to introduce the novice to the ground that is and was Stompond Lane.

Stompond Lane. Copyright. Chris Bushe

Stompond Lane. Copyright. Chris Bushe

Stompond Lane. Copyright. Chris Bushe

Stompond Lane. Copyright. Chris Bushe

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Stompond Lane. Copyright. Chris Bushe

Stompond Lane. Copyright. Chris Bushe

 

 

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