Archives » English Football Grounds

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 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

Dovercourt (Harwich)

We spent the first night back in Britain in Harwich and in the morning had a stroll into Dovercourt which is cheek by jowl with Harwich but whereas Harwich is on the southern bank of the River Stour opposite Felixstowe, Dovercourt lies to Harwich’s south and lines up NNE to SSW (pointing ESE) where Harwich is more E to W (pointing N.)

These 1930s houses hinted at Art Deco.

We walked on towards the town centre past this building which looked as if it might have once been a garage but I have since discovered was the Regent Cinema. Strong horizontals, delicate upper window.

At the bottom of a slight hill there was a football ground, the home of Harwich and Parkeston FC. The sign says Ridgeon’s Football League but the Wiki article says they’re in the Essex and Suffolk Border League and also illustrates that the club has seen better times than at present. The ground is the Royal Oak Ground. Good stepped Art Deco styling to the entrance here.

There’s a photo of the club’s stand here.

In the town itself was what was in its prime surely a Woolworths.

This was up a side street. Minor deco but definitely has it in the roofline. I’d like to have seen the original windows.

Almost next door was a defunct? bingo hall (also once a cinema?) It was morning so I couldn’t tell if the restaurant on the ground floor is still a going concern.

Up another side street I found an old Co-op. This has all the hallmarks of deco but again has seen better days. There’s something drastic has occurred to the building. The facade is distinctly bent – focused on the rightward central pillar.

Where Did You Say You Were?

Five posts now and we’ve still not made the ferry.

After Melton Mowbray we travelled through Rutland and saw a bit of Rutland Water. Not the most scenic lake I’ve ever seen. The good lady spotted a sign to Barnsdale. This was the garden of the late lamented Geoffrey Hamilton (so it goes) of whom the good lady was a fan and it is still running as a commercial concern in the shape of the gardens – for which we had too little time to visit – and a plant centre. Two plants were duly bought.

Then it was a long haul down the A 14 and M 11, then along the A 120, where we stopped at Braintree and shopped at an outlet centre we remembered from three years ago. Once more we dined at the old Embassy Cinema in Braintree.

Along the A 120 once more, then the A 12, stopping for petrol on the outskirts of Colchester. The service area was directly opposite a stadium – which of course I had to photograph. As I suspected it turned out to be Colchester Community Stadium, home of Colchester United FC (since 2008.) Situated at the delightfully named Cuckoo Farm it’s a good, tidy example of the modern stadium style.

When I lived in Braintree I never made it to Colchester’s old ground at Layer Road. I never will now.

Finally along the continued A 120 to Harwich for the night and the morning ferry.

Shielfield Park, Berwick

Shielfield is the home of Berwick Rangers FC.

There are two qualifications to this post. The category* I’ve placed it in is actually not quite accurate. Though Berwick Rangers play in the Scottish Leagues the ground is of course situated south of the border so is not technically a Scottish football ground. Shielfield is also south of the River Tweed so I suppose it’s really in Tweedmouth rather than Berwick.

There is a grassed lane leading from the road to the ground. The away terrace can be viewed from it.

Shielfield Park, Away Terrace from Lane

A little to the left of the above is the main entrance.

Shielfield Park, Main Entrance full

Entering through the turnstiles you can see the main stand.

Shielfield Park, Stand

The nearest goal to the entrance. Wide spaces between it and the spectator area.

Shielfield Park, Behind Goal

The away terrace with covered enclosure.

Shielfield Park, Away (North)  Terrace

With the low slung stand and slope the ground has similarities to Recreation Park, Alloa – though the terracing and cover there was removed a couple of years ago and replaced with temporary seating. This is the goal at the lower end of the slope at Shielfield.

Shielfield Park, Other Goal

The nearer goal and stand.

Shielfield Park, Near Goal and Stand

Looking back up the slope.

Shielfield Park, Looking Back to Main Entrance

*Edited 22/9/14 to be in new category of English Football Grounds.

free hit counter script