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Gateshead International Stadium

As well as hosting athletics, Gateshead International Stadium is home to Gateshead FC, who now play in the English sixth tier, the National League North. The club is successor of a sort to both Gateshead United and Gateshead AFC, the last of which I can remember playing in the Football League.

We visited the stadium to attend an antique fair so I took the opportunity to photograph it.

Stadium east end exterior:-

Gateshead International Stadium

Entrance. The sign says, “Welcome to Gateshead FC”:-

Gateshead International Stadium Entrance

Gateshead FC logo:-

Gateshead FC Logo, Gateshead International Stadium

Interior from Main Stand:-

Gateshead International Stadium

East goalposts and east seating area:-

Gateshead International Stadium

West goalposts and seating:-

West End, Gateshead International Stadium

Running Track:-

Running Track, Gateshead International Stadium

Main Stand from west:-

Main Stand from West, Gateshead International Stadium

Main Stand to right and east seating beyond:-

East Seating Gateshead International Stadium

Lewes War Memorial

On leaving Rye we travelled along the south coast through East Sussex using the A 27, past the Falmer Stadium (known as the Amex) on Brighton’s outskirts, just before the turning for Lewes, the county town.

I didn’t see any Art Deco but there was a War Memorial, perched on a traffic island halfway up the High Street.

It’s topped by a winged figure of Victory. Apart from the dedication, the shields attached to the base of the memorial bear Great War names:-

War Memorial, Lewes

From north:-

The right-hand shield at the bottom here has the dedication, “In memory of the men of Lewes who died for their country and for mankind n the Great War 1914-1918.” The column above it is inscribed, “Likewise remember those of this town who gave their lives in the war 1939-1945.” The rectangular plaque has names for World War 2:-

Lewes War Memorial

From west:-

Lewes, War Memorial

From east. The column is inscribed, “This was their finest hour” and again the rectangular plaque has WW2 names:-

War Memorial, Lewes, Sussex

Spotland Stadium

Home of Rochdale AFC. The stadium is known as the Crown Oil Arena due to sponsorship.

View from Willbutts Lane:-

Spotland Stadium, Home of Rochdale AFC

Pearl Street stand:-

Spotland, Pearl Street Stand

From bend in Pearl Street, Pearl Street stand to right, main stand to left:-

Spotland From Bend in Pearl Street

Turnstiles at Sandy Lane stand and turnstiles for Main stand west:-

Spotland, Turnstiles at Sandy Lane Stand

From Sandy Lane:-

Spotland from Sandy Lane

Willbutts Lane stand from main stand:-

Spotland, Willbutts Lane Stand

Pearl Street stand from main stand:-

Spotland, Pearl Street Stand

Sandy Lane stand/enclosure from main stand. This end is terraced rather than containing seating:-

Spotland, Sandy Lane Stand/Enclosure

Main stand from Sandy Lane End:-

Spotland, Main Stand

Rochdale AFC’s mascot, Desmond the Dragon, with young fans:-

Spotland Desmond the Dragon With Young Fans

New Meadow Stadium, Shrewsbury

New Meadow Stadium is the home of Shrewsbury Town FC of the third tier in English football.

On the Saturday we had seen that there was an antique fair taking place in the main stand on the Sunday so we headed there after visiting Powis Castle and Welshpool.

New Meadow replaced the club’s old ground (called Gay Meadow) which was closer to the town centre near the Abbey and the River Severn. For many years in that old location local coracle maker Fred Davies used to use one of his coracles to retrieve any balls which happened to end up in the river.

New Meadow Stadium, Main Stand From Car Park:-

New Meadow Stadium, Shrewsbury

Main and North Stands:-

Main and North Stands, New Meadow Stadium, Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury Town FC Heroes:-

Shrewsbury Town FC Heroes

Main Stand from south-west:-

New Meadow Stadium, Shrewsbury, Main Stand

South and Main Stands:-

New Meadow Stadium, Shrewsbury,South and Main Stands

West and South Stands:-

West and South Stands stitch

If you look at the above there’s a blue set of doors between the stands. I took this photo of the main and north stands from the gap in the door:-

New Meadow Stadium, Shrewsbury, Main and North Stand from South-west

Inside the main stand this poster for the previous day’s game was still in evidence:-

Poster for Game at New Meadow Stadium, Shrewsbury

I took the opportunity to photograph the other three stands from inside the Main Stand.

West Stand:-

West Stand, New Meadow Stadium, Shrewsbury

North Stand:-

New Meadow Stadium, Shrewsbury, North Stand

South Stand:-

South Stand, New Meadow Stadium, Shrewsbury

The club has a distinctive badge featuring three lions’ heads* and the legend Floreat Salopia (May Shrewsbury flourish.):-

Shrewsbury Town FC badge

When I visited the team was going well at the top of their division. Sadly their performance tailed off and they missed out on automatic promotion and also lost in the play-offs. Some of these players left the club for better things in the summer and this season they have struggled a bit, flirting with the relegation places for a while. But I see now they are in thirteenth place with four games to go (though only six points clear of the relegation zone.)

Given that Rochdale have also had a run of poor results since I attended their stadium in November maybe I’m a jinx. Rochdale have also revived a bit recently but are only one point above the danger area with a terrible goal difference – much the worst in the bottom half of that league.

*Edited to add (16/4/19): According to this website they are actually leopards’ heads (known in heraldry as loggerheads.)

Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry

Home of The New Saints of Oswestry Town & Llansantffraid Football Club aka The New Saints or TNS, once known as Total Network Solutions.

Scene of the most recent historical achievement of Dumbarton FC, the mighty Sons of the Rock.

Since The New Saints play in the Welsh Premier League this also counts as a Welsh Football ground.

The ground is more or less in the middle of nowhere, across the main road which by-passes the town of Oswestry and up a narrow unlit road. And it doesn’t have much in the way of dedicated parking spaces.

Entrance Gates:-

Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry

From southwest. The structure on this side is a TV camera platform.

Park Hall Stadium from Southwest.

Main Stand from southwest. The word stand isn’t really appropriate. The brick structure is more like a social club with a small balcony fronting onto the pitch. It doesn’t seem to have seats. The covered area to the left here does, though:-

Main Stand from Southwest, Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry

Main stand and north terracing/stand from southwest:-

Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry

Stadium from main stand, showing TV platform:-

Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry from Main Stand

Pitch and TV platform from northeast:-

Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry, from northeast.

Pitch and East terracing from northeast:-

Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry, Pitch and East terracing

North Terracing/Stand:-

Park Hall Stadium Main Stand

Camera platform from north:-

Camer Platform, Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry

Main stand and covered terracing from north terracing:-

Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry

Teams Shake Hands, Irn Bru Cup Semi-final, Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry, Feb 2018:-

Teams Shake Hands, Irn Bru Cup Semi-final, Park Hall Stadium, Oswestry, Feb 2018

Rochdale 1-0 Accrington Stanley

English Football Tier 3,* Spotland,** 24/11/18.

As you can tell from this post’s title I’ve been away again. Down to see friends in Rochdale and seizing the opportunity to take in my first ever English League game. Not my first game in England – that was in Oswestry earlier this year, that wonderful magical night.

Rochdale AFC Programme 24/11/18

As you can see from the programme cover it was celebrating Ian Henderson’s 100 goals for the club.

My main impression overall was that the players’ work rate was higher than in the SPFL (Tier 3 or 2.) In particular the pressing was sharper and quicker.

I was a bit surprised to recognise the referee (from highlight games.) It was none other than Lee Probert. A high profile referee for a 3rd tier game surely?

Rochdale started on the front foot but Stanley’s more direct style soon had them making inroads at the back. Dale’s keeper Josh Lillis was only just back from injury and initially looked shaky, spilling the ball on his first contact but he was called on three times in the first half and made good stops each time. Stanley seemed prepared to shoot on sight but were only on target those three times. Dale tended to play the ball about at the back and tried to pass their way through but mostly didn’t penetrate. Dale’s number 7 scurried about, though, and his running style reminded me very much of Kenny Miller. Stanley had more of the first half but lacked that clinical edge.

Things changed in the second. Dale substitute forward Calvin Andrew immediately brought a new focus to the attack. Whatever Ian Henderson’s qualities winning high balls isn’t to the fore. Andrew put himself about and won the first four of his aerial duels. Thereafter the man marking resorted to climbing over him to get the ball. The Dale fans weren’t too keen on Probert’s failure to penalise that.

For all Dale manager Keith Hill’s desire to play football it was ironic that the goal came from that most basic of football attacking ploys, an inswinging corner. Ian Henderson worked himself room in the box to head it down and in. I thought the keeper might possibly have done better and kept it out but it squirmed under him. So goal no. 101 for Hendo. I think it was Dale’s only effort on target.

Stanley pushed in the final ten minutes but were reduced to long range efforts only, none of which troubled Lillis. Young David Perkins came on and perked up Dale’s midfield. He looked very much one for the future. Apparently Dale’s football academy is now one of the most respected in England.

It was a good result for my first experience of Spotland which is a tidy ground with stands on all four sides, the one behind the goal at Dale’s favourite end standing only. Stanley’s supporters filled the middle portion of the stand opposite the main one and made a lot of noise at the start. This faded towards the end. Dale’s supporters were notably more quiet and only roused thenselves a few times but it seems they take a good lot on away trips.

*EFL Tier 2 – call it Sky Bet League One if you must.

**The Crown Oil Arena, no less – it’ll always be Spotland to me.

University of Bolton Stadium

Home of Bolton Wanderers F C.

Formerly the Reebok Stadium, then the Macron Stadium.

From M 61 motorway (through a passenger window):-

Fomer Reebok Stadium, Bolton

University of Bolton Stadium

The New Saints 1-2 Dumbarton

Scottish Challenge Cup*, Semi-final, Park Hall Stadium, 17/2/18

I was at Oswestry!

This is a boast that may be overtaken in a month or so’s time. Or not as the case may be.

Whatever, I was there when the mighty Sons played their first national cup semi-final in 44 years and reached their first national final for 106 years. It’s historic stuff.

Mind you I couldn’t see us achieving that heady goal at any time during the first half. We started poorly and allowed them to play from the outset. They were neat and tidy, passed the ball well, hit the bar with their first attack and continued to look threatening without managing to test Scott Gallacher in goal. I don’t know what the first half possession stats were but we didn’t have much of it that’s for sure. We barely crossed the halfway line and when we did failed to muster any sort of threat on their goal.

I thought it was all over when they scored early on in the second half. Their winger got past stop-gap left back David Smith (a midfielder turned into a makeshift right-back last season) and put in a low cross which from where I was sitting Scottt Gallacher seemed to spill and it fell to the scorer.

The game changed after around the hour mark when Calum Gallagher and Iain Russell were replaced by Mark Stewart and Liam Burt and we started to play.

Still the equaliser was a surprise as we had looked toothless even when we got the ball in their area. It was beautifully worked though with Kyle Hutton winning the ball in midfield before strolling forward and feeding Danny Handling who made space for himself and fairly thumped it past the keeper.

In a hairy moment Scott Gallacher made a one-handed stop for a header after a corner just before the ref whistled for an infringement.

Then. Froxy.

He replaced scorer Danny Handling and slotted into right midfield. I’d watched him at the half-time kick-about and he didn’t look fit to me, but sometimes he doesn’t have to be fit.

It was a free kick given for a foul against Christian Nade (his legs have gone; I don’t know how he lasted the full 94 minutes) – the first he’d got all game despite their centre half being all over him at times. I thought it was too central but Froxy is Froxy, that left foot is something else. Bang. Top left corner. Cue delirium.

It felt like very late on but there were still about ten minutes to get through before the final whistle and I nearly had heart failure when Scott Gallacher had to juggle a shot that must have swerved in the air.

Considering that due to injuries we also had to play a centre half at right back and our midfield wasn’t at its strongest this was an amazing result.

We had only two shots on target in the whole game but they both hit the back of the net. That’s football.

Here’s a video of the scenes after the final whistle. Click on the picture to get to video:-

Sons' Victory Celebrations At Park Hall Stadium Oswestry

*Irn Bru Cup

The Humber Bridge, Leaving Hull

The Humber Bridge from King George Dock, Hull:-

Humber Bridge from Hull

The exit from King George Dock is through a sea lock. A very tight squeeze! Looking directly down the ship’s side:-

Tight Squeeze

Other side of ship. Only centimetres of water between ship and lock side:-

Tight Squeeze 2

The sea lock:-

Hull sea lock 1

Lock emptying:-

Hull sea lock 2

Nearly at level:-

Hull sea lock 3

Finally moving off:-

Hull sea lock 4

Humber Bridge from Humber Estuary:-

Humber Bridge from Humber Estuary

I never did see the KCom stadium but on the way out of the Humber I spotted the very distinctive Grimsby Dock Tower (picture from Wikipedia):-

Grimsby Dock Tower

Some way beyond it were the four floodlight pylons of what looked very like a football ground which I assume must have been Blundell Park, home of Grimsby Town FC, though it seems the ground is actually in Cleethorpes.

Hull

For our trip to Belgium and the Netherlands we took the ferry from Hull across to Zeebrugge.

At Hull we got onto the ship, examined the cabin, no room to have a cat never mind swing one, then went up on deck.

Hull was surprisingly green but with some industry too.

Over the dockside rooftops I spotted what I thought might be a football ground with what appeared to be the word KCom on a stand. Was it the KCom stadium, the home of Hull City AFC (and Hull FC, one of the city’s two big Rugby League clubs) I wondered? But it looked too small.

It turns out that it was KCom I had spotted but it was KCom Craven Park, the home of the other Rugby League club, Hull Kingston Rovers.

KCom Craven Park

KCom Craven Park 2

In this zoom shot the end S of “Rovers” can be seen on the far stand’s seats.

KCom Craven Park 3

Some modern architecture in Hull:-

Building, Hull

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