The first task was finding the entrance. There was just one – beside a shed named Danny’s Den and without so much as a turnstile. The first you thing you notice in the ground is a row of seven bus shelters forming a stand of sorts. It’s one of those idiosyncrasies that the FA Cup trail is all about. If you don’t understand why then groundhopping’s not for you. Above the two small stands on the far touchline the view extends to the other side the Tyne valley. Even though the ground was built just 10 years ago it has bags of character and a great rural setting. The two coaches that brought the away fans were parked – or rather stuffed down – a country lane.
Mention should also be made of the king of the international groundhoppers, Leo Hoenig, who I spotted in the crowd. This man has been to more grounds than I’ve had hot dinners.
So. A great ground, a rib-tickling programme, a couple of celebrity cameos and four goals into the bargain. My FA Cup trail is off to a fine – if belated – start.
Caption: No purchase required. (You can see this unofficial spectator in the shot of the goal).
Website of the moment: Check out this site for some outstanding pics of minor football grounds in Europe in their settings. Something to aspire to: http://www.hansvandermeer.nl/