Thursday, May 14, 2009

One of the guys on the Vancouver Southsiders Forum was recently over in the UK and went to several football grounds.

He was at a lot of the big stadiums, including Old Trafford and Wembley, and I asked him which was his favourite. His answer was Colchester United, because of the atmosphere at the game he saw there against Leeds.

This got me thinking about some of the great grounds I've seen football at and some of the not so great.

As football fans in the UK I think we take some of the things about the game there for granted and this is especially true for those of us who follow the smaller teams.

For me, there's nothing like the atmosphere at one of the smaller grounds. One with character, history and a story to tell. Fans of the bigger clubs don't get to see that side of the game and it's them that's missing out.

I know I touched on this a couple of days ago when I was talking about Burnley's Turf Moor, but if you let me induldge myself once more, I'd like to continue this discussion.

It's a shame that so many of the great grounds in the UK are no more.

I have some pictures of some of the great Scottish League grounds of the past that I plan to put up on AFTN soon as part of an article on such things.

As East Fife supporters, we've been lucky to travel all over Scotland and see some sights and some "sights".

Looking at some of the old pics, there's Airdrie's charming little stand at Broomfield. A construction that stood out like a sort thumb in an otherwise drab ground and drabber town.

Stenhousemuir and East Stirling are now ground sharing partners at Stenny's Ochilview, but in the old days you were lucky to have one team play in the basic conditions there, with another small yet charistmatic stand.

The Shire's old bus shelter stand was another such structure.

The Fife's pre season trips to the north of England saw us play at Darlington's Fleethams which was so much more of a football ground than the expanse of plastic they currently play in.

I wish I'd appreciated our times at these places a bit more. You know, the 92 Club and 38 Club groundhoppers of yesteryear may have had a point in all that.

Watching some of the lower league and non league playoff action in the last wee while has made me want to go on a tour of some of the old style grounds that still remain in England and see some more of the ones I haven't been to. Who knows how much longer the grounds will be around in their current forms. The way things are going, the Clubs might not even exist for much longer in some cases.

Any football fan who hasn't experienced a friendly in Spennymoor or Seaham should make sure they get themselves there for East Fife's friendly against the resurrected Spenny team come July.

Real football, in a real football stadium. Is there anything better?
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