Grounds

Matt Nation celebrates an unkempt concrete corner of Hamburg where watching the game was far less entertaining than pushing your neighbours into the nettles – unless a visitor lost his rag

For some ears, Adolf-Jäger-Kampfbahn sounds resolutely and undeniably Teu­tonic, evoking images of combat drills, marching and Oliver Kahn-lookalikes with their faces set in neutral jumping over vaulting horses. However, in the mid-Nineties, the touchline terrace at Altona 93’s games was more playground than parade ground. People used to go there simply to muck about.

Now the whole of the ground has gone, but for Tim Springett a piece of Southampton history vanished as long ago as 1981, when “progress” put paid to a very odd looking stand indeed

A Saturday afternoon in March was approaching the time of twilight when, having spent most of the match defending stoutly, Southampton’s opponents Bolton broke forward from the far end. The ball came to Hugh Curran on the edge of the penalty area, who took a shot. What happened from here on in I couldn’t tell you, since from my vantage (ha!) point I couldn’t see the goal at the near end. The next thing I did see though was Curran being mobbed by jubilant team-mates and the home players disconsolately placing the ball on the centre spot to kick off again. What on earth had happened in the meantime? As it was 1975 there was no instant replay screen or even a scoreboard in the ground to help me out, so I was left to my own powers of deduction. My opinion was that Bolton had scored. The following morning the classified results printed in the Sunday Express confirmed that I was, indeed, correct.

 Simon Inglis mourns the loss of traditional floodlights from the horizon due to the changing trends in stadium construction

We’ve all been there. Driving to a game, negotiating the ring-roads and roundabouts of Awaysville, then growing hotter and more bothered as you realise the back streets in which you’re mired are nowhere near the ground. What’s worse is you’ve never had to look at a map before. All you’ve ever done was take more or less the right turn-off from the motorway and then drive blithely toward that distant set of floodlights on the horizon, like a moth homing in on a night light.

Before it's too late, Tom Davies records the relaxed conviviality of chatting in the quietest part of a quietish ground, pausing only for the odd barbed reference to the game in the background

Those who have campaigned for the retention or return of terracing at football have aimed their fire too narrowly. In highlighting the mystique of a terrace as a throbbing, heaving mass of partisan passion, they’ve missed what makes an awful lot of terraces – particularly a lot of those that still exist – special: their quiet, easy-going affability.

Dianne Millen explains why the northernmost stadium in the Scottish Premier League can still be an intimidating venue, even 16 years after Alex Ferguson left, along with the glory days

Fortress Pittodrie. Not the only thing which Alex Fer­guson, who more or less invented the concept, took with him when he went: like many things about Aber­deen, it has declined in recent years, although nine con­secutive home victories last season in a storming run to Europe saw the idea briefly, poig­nantly revived.

The last remaining dead cat has now been removed from the stadium of Argentina's perennial under-achievers. Ben Backwell explains what it was doing there in the first place

Away games at Racing’s Academia stadium, in the working-class Buenos Aires suburb of Avellaneda, are never easy. For a start, Racing fans have maintained a reputation of being Argentina’s most fanatical and vocal supporters, despite the team’s mainly abysmal performances since the late 1960s. While Boca Juniors can certainly claim the affection of more fans throughout Argentina, Racing’s fans – who refer to them­selves modestly as “the No 1” – pride themselves on their loyalty. Average crowds have rarely slipped to the dismal levels of some other Argentinian clubs, despite spells in the second division, bankruptcy and suspension from the football association, and a stretch of 35 years (1966- 2001) without a major domestic title.

Tony Butcher pays tribute to one of the east coast's scariest spots

Now what is the professional footballer’s favourite phrase to describe the joy of playing in the Premiership? “No disrespect to the likes of Grimsby but...” It isn’t just the name, it’s the ground, the small, cold, but above all old Blundell Park, the home of the Mariners since 1899.

After a tortuous and shambolic process, the final, final decision on where the new Wembley will be built is expected any day now. And the answer, as Colin Peel exclusively reveals, well be, er, Wembley

As this is being written, the announcement of the location of the new English national stadium is late. It might be another month before the choice is re­vealed, but make a couple of enquiries and it becomes clear that location is no longer much of an issue for those who are behind the decision. The rather more taxing questions now facing the “stakeholders” are: what sort of stadium will be built at Wembley and, above all, how will it be paid for? Those plucky out­siders from the west midlands were never in with a chance from the outset.

Access problems at the new venue for showpiece finals make for a disaster waiting to happen, says Richard Browne

The first Worthington Cup final at the Millennium Stadium was a shambles. Cardiff was just not prepared for a huge influx of people on a Sunday morning. The most frustrating feature of the whole chaotic day was the refusal to delay the kick-off by any more than ten minutes. With only one Sunday service on the trains, most people had no choice but to arrive by road. There were 65,000 in the ground at kick-off, with some 8,500 still struggling to get in. There were stories of fans arriving in Cardiff after a six-hour journey in time to watch the second half in a pub near where their coach parked, miles from the stadium. I was among the lucky ones who only missed the first 15 minutes, to be greeted on arrival by the slogan “It’s a fan thing”, and the discovery that there was no food or drink and no programmes.

Photographer Tony Davis was commissioned to take pictures of all 92 League grounds for the new national football museum in Preston. On his travels he found squalor, splendour and some terrific shopping

I’m at Deepdale, home of the national football museum, trying to arrange a trip to Blackpool to photograph Bloomfield Road. But they don’t want me. Could I come back when the ground has been knocked down and redeveloped? With only a few weeks in which to finish the project, I tell them it has to be today. A series of phone calls later, I’m on the road to Blackpool. 

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