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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

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.

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