Here is a review of my itinerant football watching during the 2018/19 campaign.
Total Matches Attended: 280
New Grounds Visited: 202
Total Goals Scored: 1,147 (Average of 4.10 goals per game, up on 3.81 last season, I saw seven 0-0 draws this season)
Biggest Win: Bestwood Miners Welfare 15 NG Vikings 0
Biggest Crowd: 59,903 West Ham United v Liverpool
Grounds Abroad: 49 (Romania 12, Serbia 12, Germany 11, Greece 3, Iceland 3, Italy 3, Bosnia 1, Bulgaria 1, Gibraltar 1, Netherlands 1, San Marino 1)
BEST GROUNDS VISITED IN THE UK IN 2018/19
An amateur pitch marked out on a rough piece of grass against the Elizabethan fortified walls of Berwick-upon-Tweed. If it was good enough for L.S.Lowry to draw then it’s good enough for me. An absolute bucket list footballing experience.
2. HOPEMAN – Sea Park
The Moray Welfare League is a summer competition played on parched pitches across the Morayshire region. Hopeman play on a pitch adjacent to the sea and harbour and the view from up on the hill towards the High Street is just stunning. Sea Park should be a new entry on anyone’s iconic football venues list.
3. FORRES MECHANICS – Mosset Park
A sturdy main stand, ample banking around the rest of the ground. One of the best grounds in a league full of decent venues.
4.KILSYTH RANGERS– Duncansfield Park
Huge covered terrace on one side and sweeping curves of terrace around the rest of the ground. To cap it all there is player’s tunnel that goes under the terracing before rising up to pitch level. Steadfastly Junior and all power to its elbow.
5.ELGIN CITY– Borough Briggs
A traditional old ground completing a strong Scottish bias to this season’s awards list. Magically old school and seeming untouched by the rampant need to modernise.
BEST GROUNDS VISITED ABROAD IN 2018/19
1.BOLOGNA – Stadio Renato Dall’Ara
Just an incredible footballing amphitheatre. Built in the 1920’s with so many amazing architectural features from the Littoral, the cover walkway on the open side of the ground to Nervi’s masterpiece tower. Despite a fairly recent revamping for the 1990 World Cup, it would seem the owners, the City of Bologna, are keen to modernise it further, you would trust the traditional features are retained but who knows?
2.RHEYDTER SV – Jahnstadion
When you get to hear that an old school stadium is to soon be “modernised” you experience two emotions. One is the pang of sadness of another lost playground and then that’s superseded by the urge to go and see it as it is before the “improvements” destroy the essential character. The Jahnstadion will have its 20,000 capacity terracing removed in its entirety and just a revamped grandstand will be left. Work is scheduled to start on this latest act of social vandalism in early 2020, be warned!
3.ASC OLIMPIC ZARNESTI – Stadion Celuloza
Dramatic mountain setting, ancient wooden stand somehow held together for more than 80 years and a bright red pavilion. Just a stunning place to watch football.
4.FK ŽAK KIKINDA – Stadion ŽAK
Features a big old grandstand and a perimeter wall made from about a million roof tiles stood on their ends. An indescribably good football ground.
5.ALTONA ‘93 – Adolf Jäger Kampfbahn
One of the oldest remaining stadiums in Germany, perfect in every way. Coupled with a great fan scene, this a must do venue before their muted plans to move come to fruition.
BEST PROGRAMMES BOUGHT IN 2018/19
(based on status, resources, effort and originality)
1. Clapton Community FC
3. St. Helens Town
BEST FOOD IN 2018/19
- Curry (Queens Park Crescents)
2. Scouse (Litherland REMYCA)
3. Jerk Chicken (Enfield Borough)