Monday, 29 February 2016

And a day to go to Spring!

Monday 29 February 2016, Ipswich Town ( Under 21) 6 Bristol City (Under 21) 1 - U21 Development League, South Division - Playford Rd Training Ground

Sunny, warm, no wind and we win! It seemed Spring had come early to Playford Road, and we were six up by half time - somehow know we managed to lose the second half 0-1!

And it seems I can't get away from Hitchin, with their full back, Kane Smith (on trial) impressing for Ipswich.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Plenty of room!

Saturday 27 February 2016, Arlesey Town 3 Chalfont St Peter 2, Southern Laegue Central Division One, aRMadillo Stadium

Only a few miles separate Hitchin from Arlesey, and just one division in football terms. But just seven days after visiting Hitchin, going to a game at Arlesey was like entering a different world.

There were some similarities, friendly, good club house (in fact the one at Arlesey is much better) and not bad football and both pitches OK when you consider the winter we had but that is where the similarities stop.

Arlesey is a modern ground on the edge of the village and a very good modern ground at that, whilst Hotchin is a town centre ground that would look at home in the 1930's - wood, wood wood whilst Arlesey is brick, brick and brick!

Hitchin's 'Top Field' oozes character but that is not to say the modern ground at Arlesey has not got it's individual features- the small terrace behind one goal and how many clubs have an adjoining Petanque club?

Arlesey got a win and have a young team trying to play football the right way, coached well and plenty of very skillful players and the club has had success in the past - but then we have the real big difference- the crowd - Hitchin one of the best supported teams in the area whilst Arlesey survive on crowds of about 70!

Did I still enjoy the day out? Yes, nice ground and a good game of football, I also have so much respect for the people who run clubs like this but you do worry how long clubs like this can survive.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Play-off dream over?

Tuesday 23 February 2016, Ipswich Town 0 Hull City 1 - Championship, Portman Road

Sunday, 21 February 2016

"Top team" at 'Top Field'

Saturday 20 February 2016, Hitchin Town 2 Hungerford Town 1 - Southern League Premier Division, Top Field

I love this ground! Helped by an exciting game, friendly fans and helpful club officials - those factors even made me (an Ipswich fan) overlook the yellow/green colours and Canary nickname!

Last weekend I had a great time in Belgium and visits to Antwerp and Union St Gilloise and I can see why UK fans are attracted there - beer, old school stadiums - but after visiting Hitchin I reminded myself that you do not have to travel far to get away from the money grabbing game that the top 4 divisions in England have become.

So what makes 'Top Field' so different? Wood - and plenty of it, not sure at first if they were benches to sit on but soon realised that the stands were made of wooden planks to stand on - with all stands variously different and then at one end some proper terracing.

Over the last seasons, 'Top Field' hase been under threat and those threats may have galvanised the club and town to come together to save their club.

It was great to listen to some of the older fans near the tea hut talk about former players who had played for Hitchin or other local non-league sides, you could see how much they would miss their weekly trips to 'Top Field'.

So make sure you place 'Top Field' on your 'must visit' list, and you may even be watching a higher standard of football as a play off place looks an almost certainty - thanked in this game by a brilliant 89th minute goal line clearance!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

More grounds than types of Belgian beer- more Belgian football grounds (Day 2 and 3)

My visit to Belgium included games at AntwerpAnderlecht and Union Saint Gilloise, I also managed to visit 3 classic Brussels grounds but that was not all - as well as a few frites and mayo, a few Belgian beers i also managed to visit a number of other Belgian grounds - from small astro cages to the national stadium - a few words but mainly pictures of some of those grounds. (Day 2 and 3)

Complex Sportif Neerstalle

Complexe Sportif du Brempt

Heysel Stadium - Stade Roi Baudouin

The National Stadium is just one ground amongst a complex of pitches, two others are used by many teams including the junior Anderlecht sides and the second ground will actually see Belgium host a rugby international this weekend.

The main stadium has been re-built since the horrific events that happened in 1985, a tour of the ground involves a video of those events and you do wonder how the ground was ever permitted to hold a major final.

It has been rebuilt with little glamour, one of the few national stadiums in Europe with no VIP seats or executive boxes - a functional ground, but even a name change will not ever stop this stadium being remembered for that night which will always remain a stain on football.

Stade Du Crossing

Stade Communal Georges Petre

Stade Communal Fallon ( 2 pitches)

Stade Communal Jette