Thursday, 9 June 2016

Grand stands

Here’s an end of season round up of grounds and stands that I’ve mainly stumbled across on my travels in recent weeks.

Driving to a work meeting I passed this grandstand just to the side of the main road leading into Lincoln from the west. It was once part of a Georgian racecourse sited on the other side of the road until its closure in 1964. The structure was built in 1892 and restored for use as a community centre in 2012. From a quick snoop around I guess it’s still something of a white elephant.

After another meeting at Alnwick in Northumberland I couldn’t resist checking out the town’s Northern League football ground, the second most northerly senior ground in England after Berwick (and I feel like discounting them since they play in Scotland). The clubhouse looks like it should belong to a cricket club and the stand opposite has “has some great grubby seats worth photographing” according to a groundhopper I met at Eppleton.

On a walk in the Yorkshire Dales I stumbled across the home of Settle United of the step 7 Craven & District League. What a backdrop. I will return one sunny match day and perhaps see if there is a good vantage point on the fells.

I started my season back in August at Barton Town Old Boys and ended it at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on May 27 for England v. Australia (2-1). Quite an entertaining game as friendlies go and a very rare chance for my lad to watch his national team. We took our seats as the anthems were playing and only just in time, therefore, to see the Rashford debut goal. Phew!

Windmill? Flag with horizontal red, white and blue stripes? Yup: no mistaking where this ground is. I came across it on a cycle tour of Zeeland in the southern Netherlands in June. The club is called Racing Club Souberg and, from what I can google, plays in the sixth tier of Dutch football. Its great claim to fame is that former players include Danny Blind, current manager of the Dutch national team. Through his connections he brought Ajax sides to the ground for friendlies in the 90s.

I took in the qualifying rounds of the Aegon Ilkley Trophy on June 11. The competition is part of the ATP Challenger Tour for players outside the top 100. It was like a little Wimbledon (just six courts, all immaculate) and the best free sporting occasion in Yorkshire after the Tour de France. The new clubhouse is striking, reminding me of similarly splendid amateur sporting facilities just down the road at Ilkley rugby club. They do things in style in this corner of the West Riding.

Not so golden oldie?: I love this pic of Everton’s Goodison Park in 1970. Scarves without lettering; fans standing up, cops among them; a grumpy St John Ambulance man; a clock crudely perched on a wall with advertising for a defunct chain store; Scouse urchins in parkas; and, heaven forbid, an ad for cigarettes. It all looks so grubby and grey – from another world let alone another era.

Eighties footballers in showbiz: Here is a clip of Kevin Keegan taking penalties against Placido Domingo in 1980 (see clip 5) and here is a story about George Best playing football with Supergran at North Shields FC in 1984. Frankly surreal, the like of which we will never see again.

Whatever happened to him?: I watched Stocksbridge Park Steels in the FA Cup in 2007 and, a quick check of the programme, suggests that a very young Jamie Vardy may have played that day. Couldn’t spot him in any of my pics, though. Playing for Curzon was Mike Norton who went on to star with FC United of Manchester on their rise through the leagues.


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Historical buildings are always so eye catching. Such fine work. You have had a really good luck to stumble upon something like that

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