Hillsborough is not one of my favourite stadia, although I’ve no reason to dislike it. I’ve been three times, twice recently including yesterday and once in the 1960s, when I was at Liverpool University, where I did visit quite a few grounds in the North.
It certainly isn’t because of over-officious stewarding or policing, as it was a very painless and friendly process to get inside. Perhaps not as friendly as last time, where a tout knocked down an unsellable Senior ticket to me for less than cost price. What he was doing with the ticket I do not know, but at the time he seemed pleased I gave him a tenner for it.
I think it must be because the stadium shows its age, although it doesn’t in the picture. But, there are still roof supports obstructing some views and the facilities are in a severe need of an update. They’re not as bad as some, but when you look at places like Hull, Brighton, Ipswich, Derby, Wolverhampton and others, you realise that the toilets and food outlets at Hillsborough, are not of the standard most supporters expect.
I think that some innovative thinking is needed in this area, which would benefit supports and clubs alike. As an example, last Tuesday at the Crystal Palace game, I desperately needed a drink of water, so I went to the catering outlet a few minutes before half-time. I found Ipswich Town were selling a new East Anglian brand of water called Iceni. Perhaps, if there is one, clubs might benefit from selling local water.
Tomorrow, I’m going to Sheffield to see Ipswich at Wednesday. As there is now a Carluccio’s at Meadowhall, I thought that it might be an easy place to have lunch before the match.
I’ve booked a ticket out of Kings Cross to get to Meadowhall with a change at Doncaster, rather than go the obvious way of St. Pancras and Sheffield.
So I thought, I’d look up where Carluccio’s was in Meadowhall on the web. They are apparently in the Oasis Dining Area. But can I find a plan, which shows me where that is in the centre? No! Of course not! After all, the one thing I don’t want to do, is walk past every useless shop in the place, as I would expect few would have any goods that I would ever need. But that is what these infernal shopping centres want me to do, as they think I might buy something. But I’m going to a football match and then home to London!
After all, I’m only ever going to Meadowhall for one reason! And that is to have lunch!
In fact this is probably why I don’t use shopping centres. when I go shopping, I generally need some specific things and have a list of shops I will visit to get what I want! I don’t want to walk miles, when I need one specific item.
I suppose you could call it precision shopping. I arrive, buy and retreat immediately.
Often with John Lewis, I just go and check out what I need, write down the stock number and then go home and order it over the Internet.
They must love shoppers like me!
After a good drink of proper Aspall Cyder, I got the train to Ipswich for the match against Crystal Palace.
One guy was saying that Town would win 3-0 and his mates were teasing him strongly. I hope he put some money on it, as Town did.
Evening matches at Portman Road can be difficult for me, as if I’m unlucky with the trains, I don’t get in until after midnight.
Yesterday was such a day, and I fell asleep on the rather hot train.
But I got home safely, after using a taxi driven by one of the smallest and oldest drivers I’d ever had.
His driving skills were very much up to scratch, though.
I slept well after a successful day.
I didn’t get to the match at Ipswich on Saturday, as although the Eurostar was on time in London, by the time I got home, it was too late to get a train to the start of the match.
The delays hadn’t been serious, but I wasted ten or fifteen minutes because of a broken Cashpoint, queues at WH Smith for my paper and then no taxis at Kings Cross. I then had to take the Victoria line to Highbury and Islington station and I waited another ten minutes for a bus to get home.
Of course, if they had left luggage lockers, at any of the stations, like St. Pancras, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street or Ipswich, I could have quickly dumped my case and got to the match on time.
But as Ipswich Town lost, I wasn’t too bothered by the evening.
Bratislava is a charming city and I spent a pleasant few hours exploring.
It was just a pity it was still rather cold.
I first heard of Bratislava in the 1960s, when Spurs went there to play a European tie against Slovan Bratislava. I suspect the city was very different then.
I seem to remember the score as goalless, but some web sites, think Spurs lost 2-0. The match was memorable in one way, as the attacking Spurs team, decided to park the bus in front of goal. I was at the return leg at White Hart Lane, when Spurs progressed by 6-0. There’s a video of the match here. This must be one of the earliest matches, where I was actually present, that has a video on the Internet.
The train got to Derby station in just over an hour and a half and then it was a short walk to the ground.
You walk through, an office park to the ground and it is all pretty easy going. Although a map or two and some more finger posts would be a good idea. For the first time this year, we saw a ground bathed in sunshine.
Derby County had the bulk of the play by 57% to 43%, but despite this, Ipswich won 1-0.
The goal incidentally was the sort you read about in stories, but see rarely in real life. In the last minute of added time, at the end of the match, Carlos Edwards received the ball in the centre circle and runs towards the Derby goal, before unleashing an unstoppable shot from twenty-five metres out.
Mick McCarthy summed up the match like this.
We burgled it. I thought I heard the sirens and I said ‘shut the doors, the police are coming!
I would add that as my ticket to get in cost me £17.50 on top of £29 to get there by train in First Class, I can’t say that my day out wasn’t good value.
I’ve used the East Midland Trains web site, many times in the last few years and have found it excellent.
But now it has had a makeover and I had to have a couple of attempts to get my tickets for the Ipswich match at Derby.
I always book a return in First Class, with the outrun being timed to get to the destination by something like 14:00 and then a fetch after 17:00 to get back to London. Usually, this is because, I won’t find anything to eat in the destination and so go straight to the ground. As Pride Park is close to Derby station, this would definitely be the case at Derby.
But the site kept telling me, I’d put in the wrong times, as I suspect someone had got his checking wrong. It was only, when the site handed me over to the ticketing engine behind the booking site, did I get some sense.
In the end, I’m travelling from London to Derby and back for the extortionate price of £29. And that’s in First Class with tea and drinks! If there are any snacks, I’ll forgo them, as they won’t be gluten free.
I’m getting rather fed up, with all the discussion clogging up the air time on the radio.
Let’s face it Paolo Di Canio has been proven to have fascist sympathies and hiring him was a big mistake from a marketing point of view.
Sunderland are now probably finding out what a mistake it was, in terms of revenue.
Like many other stories of recent months, it should be left alone, as everybody is bored with it.
At Millwall yesterday, we sat in the North Stand and could see this on the top of the stand opposite.
Cold Blow Lane was the location and name of the old Den.
However, yesterday it would have been an ideal name for their current ground. Look at these flags on the East Stand.
They are standing out ram-rob straight right across the pitch due to the biting easterly wind.
If you look at the shape of the roof, it might even act like a wing and create all sorts of vortices and downdraughts.
Whatever though, the cold and wind ruined the match.
For a lot of the time, play was consistently in front of the West stand, as the ball was blown across, with long sequences of throws-in. Passing was awful on both sides and the match is summed up by the score, as no-one seemed to be able to get a decent shot on goal.
Ipswich nearly scored an unusual goal. This is from the BBC report.
But Ipswich, themselves unbeaten in three games, came back into the match and nearly took a bizarre lead when Forde’s poor clearance fell to Hyam, whose 50-yard lob was headed clear by Millwall defender Mark Beevers.
Until, this point, Town were playing extremely badly and every clearance seemed to go to Millwall.
After the match, I talked to a couple of Millwall supporters. They said that they’d had several matches like this and this was the fourth goal-less draw. They all said that the pitch was rock hard, hence the watering at half-time.
Cricket may have Rain Stopped Play, but Millwall seem to have other weather related problems.
The match may have cost me only £17, but I would have enjoyed myself more if I gone to bed for the afternoon.
I like going to see Ipswich play at Millwall.
The New Den is a compact ground, where away supporters get a good view of the action. In fact, as the view is one of the best, the stewards are generally friendly and it is an easy ground to get to by public transport, it is one of the best away experiences in English football, if you support a reputable club.
It is also exceedingly good value, as my senior ticket cost just £17 and of course because of my Freedom Pass, I had no travel costs. So my total expenditure was much the same cost as taking a lady to the cinema. Although in that case, I’d probably have to buy a drink or even a meal!
I went by taking the Overground to Canada Water station, from where I got a P12 bus directly to the ground. Even though, these buses are every 20 minutes on a Bank Holiday, I still did the journey in just over thirty minutes.
Coming back, I walked to South Bermondsey station and took the train to London Bridge, from where I got a 141 bus home.
wikipedia also says that a 21 bus goes close to the New Den, so as it goes past the end of my road, I might try that next year. You get off at Ilderton Road.
It certainly is the easiest ground for me to get to, with the probable exception of Arsenal’s ground at The Emirates. But that would cost a lot more for a match.