Saturday 5 July 2008

Yeading Annexe, Springfield Road, Hayes. Middlesex.

I'm not entirely sure who plays here, at it has obviously seen better days, I would guess it's still capable of staging intermediate level county league football.
I took these photos during the 2006/07 season, having wandered through a gate in the fence from adjacent Yeading Football Club.
Suggestions from a query I posted on the Tony Kempster messageboard say that this ground is used by Holland Park Old Boys, in the Amateur Football Association; and Hayes Gate, of the Middlesex County League. If anyone has any further information, on either current tenants, or previous ones, I'd be most interested.

Railed off behind the goal

And down the side

As well as down the far end, though I couldn't be bothered
to walk down there.

And a small stand between the dugouts, that has clearly
in bit of disrepair!

I don't think you'll stay too dry in a downpour under that!

Yeading FC, The Warren, Hayes, Middlesex.

Technically this is the second home of Hayes & Yeading United FC, following the amalgamation of the two clubs. Their Reserve Team play here,These photos were taken towards the end of the 2006/07 season, when I saw Dulwich Hamlet Reserves, in a Capital League match.

When we were in the same division at First Team level, a lot of Hamlet fans didn't like visiting here. The ground's ok, nothing special, but adequate. I think it's more because the location, a couple of miles from the station, and stuck in an industrial area; plus there is very little atmosphere here, due to their lack of support.

The ground is famous for being the one in 'Bend It Like Beckham'. And there will always be a link between Dulwich Hamlet & Yeading, as they were the last ever opponents for us at our old Champion Hill ground, back in May 1991.

I believe Hayes & Yeading United are planning to sell the old Hayes FC Church Road ground, where the new club play First Team matches, and they will move back here, after some redevelopment. For that reason I include 'The Warren', as seen here, as an 'old ground', even though it's still in use. I know most will not agree with me on that, but it's my blog! ;-)

This is the entrance. Note my shadow on the floor, which
proves what a rubbish photographer I am! ;-)

As you walk through the turnstiles you're near the corner,
and i'm going to walk round the ground clockwise. I do like
the 'beauty' of 'industrial ugliness' in the background, such as
that gas holder.

There is only cover at one end, I'm not sure when this was
erected, but it wasn't there for my earlier visits, whenever
that was! (early nineties?)

A view to the left from behind the goal.

And to the right. The nets are tied upwards. The natural
assumption is that this is for the convenience of cutting the
grass. But in urban areas, all over London, this is also done
to stop foxes chewing on them at night!

A better view of the main side, from behind the goal. The seats
to the right, and the changing rooms to the left of it, with
the clubhouse above them on the first floor. To the far left
you can see a small covered terrace, too.

Just hard standing down the far side. The ground used to
go back further, until the new perimeter fencing.

As you can see here, now 'no mans land'

Before these new dugouts were put in, I think it was a straight
pitch fence all the way along.

Just a path behind this goal, I would guess this end will be
built up when the merged club return here.

This is the covered terrace along the side. Note the staircase
up to the clubhouse.

This photo is taken from the top of those steps.

Back on the ground, looking back to the open end.

The seats, near to where we started.

Before we finish, just one more look at the covered end.

Sportland Arenal, Tallinn, Estonia

FC Elva versus Tartu Valk 494, which was an Estonian Second Division match. The visitors won 1-0, in front of a crowd of about thirty.
The Sportland Arenal is one of the pitches adjacent to the National Stadium, the A Le Coq Arena. Though part of the same complex, with the changing rooms inside the main stadium buildings, these 'outer pitches' are seperate stadiums in ther own right, & have their own names, and have perimeter fencing.
I know other clubs use this pitch, but I do not know which ones or how many, & my knowledge of Estonian football is patchy to say the least!
You can check fixtures on the Estonian FA website.

This was the only spectator facilities, open and rather warm!
Yes, that is the National Stadium behind.

The teams come onto the pitch, as you can see there are
no spectator areas on the other side.

As is the continental way the teams line up on the centre circle,
almost outnumbering the crowd!

You can just as easily watch the match from outside, through
the fencing!

The coaching staff stood on the far side.

This was the back row of the seats. No fence behind, don't
lean back!

A Le Coq I muruvaljak; Tallinn; Estonia

This was an Estonian First Division top flight match, JK Tallinna Kalev versus Parnu Vaprus. I was extremely lucky as I got the very last programme! This was a late switch, from their usual stadium, the Kalevi Stadium, I can't recall why, but I think someone said the pitch was unfit, cracking up in the heatwave. The crowd looked about 90, from a rough headcount, not including the players from a later match, and Kalev won by the odd goal in three.
This was a late afternoon match kicking off at 5.00pm. When this finished we stayed on, as there was an Estonian Under Eighteen international with Belarus on the same pitch later, at 7.45pm! The international was free, and there was no programme. The visitors won 3-1, and the crowd qas about 120.

A banner, from the home team, behind the goal. The people
who put it up, three fans, watched the match from outside
the fence, saving themselves the admission!

Again an open 'one sided' venue for spectators. Small,
temporary style, banks of seats.

Presumably from the local sports programme.

A flag from the away fans.

And this was the away support! The woman at the front is
English, and part of the touring Dulwich Hamlet Supporters'
football team party!

A not very good attempt at an 'arty farty' shot from me!

The visitors from Belarus arrive as the Estonian League
match is still in progress.

Another view along the spectator side.

And the Estonian Youth Team have a look as well.

Over the far side is another pitch, an all weather one. The name
of it being 'A Le Coq Arena Kunstmuruvaljak'; again part of the
complex, but separately fenced in; thus also another ground.
This is where we had lost 10-6 to JK Jalgpallihaigla earlier.
They are the Supporters' Team of the Estonian National side,
and play in the Estonian Fourth Division.

The travelling band celebrate their goal!

The Belarus team coach, parked outside.

A look across the pitch, during the international.

Sunday 29 June 2008

Dulwich Hamlet FC, Champion Hill Stadium.

You'd think this would have been the first ground I'd have covered really, but it was only a couple of weeks ago that I had one of those 'Doh!' moments & realised I'd better do some in depth snaps of my own club!
A club I've supported since 1974, when my older brother took me down to watch the local team, & I've been cheering them on ever since!
This is of course, the 'new' Champion Hill. The previous one being a huge old cinder terraced stadium, that would have been capable of holding thirty thousand in it's heyday. That was opened on 10th October 1931, in front of over eighteen thousand fans, versus Nunhead.
The current one, which I will 'take you round' here, staged it's first game on 3rd October 1992, with a bigger than usual crowd, of over seven hundred, versus Hendon, with the local London TV news cameras present.
Yes it is home, and I've got used to it, but to be honest I don't like the place. It's one of the best 'one sided' grounds around. There's no cover behind either goal, and some of us refer to the cover along the side as the 'bus shelter'. Funnnily enough visiting fans seem to like it more than us, perhaps the memory of our old ground still lingers on for too many of us...

This is the best view of the ground:

But I'm going to show you it in depth, so indulge me as I include more snaps than I have used for any ground so far!

These signs have been up since the ground was opened in
1992, but-thankfully-is NOT the actual name of the ground!

If coming by train from East Dulwich, turn left, past the
chip shop (only if starving, it's a bit ropey!) and turn left
into this park.

Stick to the curvy footpath, not the one straight across
the grass, and you'll see this piece of public art, commissioned
by Sainsburys back in 1992. The main road is called Dog Kennel

If walking down the Hill you will turn into this road, named
after our greatest player. This was the result of a campaign by
our fans, after signs went up asking if there were any objections
to it being called 'Sport Road'. As suggested by John Beasley, of
the unrepresentative & unelected middle class group the
Peckham Society, who was the person who led the campaign
to prevent our current ground being built! Too right we
bloody well objected to 'Sport Road'!

Come out of the park, or along Edgar Kail Way, and you
see our car park. Home of a car wash. It's looks unsightly,
and rather 'Essex', but it helps pay the bills, by renting out
the land.

Our turnstiles, with the Fisher Athletic sign on the side of
the squash courts. I'm not going to take you through the
turnstiles. But we're going to go up the steps by the side
of the squash courts, and walk through the main entrance.

On the side of the squah courts is this old sign, from when
the ground opened, but never used to advertise games as
nobody could be bothered to make, or put up, posters.

The upper car park, towards the entrance.

Note the two plaques below the crest & DHFC

A Southwark Council blue plaque. Voted for by local people
every year. When they were first instigated a few years ago
twenty were up for grabs, and out of the most popular our
fans' choice came sixth, getting more votes than the Rio
Ferdinand one in Peckham. The wording, by the Council, is
wrong though. Edgar was the last amateur to play for England
whilst solely with an amateur club. The last ever amateur to
appear for the Full England side was Bernard Joy, of Arsenal &
The Casuals, in 1936.
Still it annoys Corinthian-Casuals fans every time they visit...

This was unveiled two seasons ago, following public fund-raising
by Hamlet fans.

Just inside the main entrance is the Club War Memorial,
remembering our fallen from both World Wars. The plaque
to the right of it was added two years ago, to 'correct' a
spelling mistake on the original.

Sadly it is currently obscured by a pile of assorted clutter.
I have asked members of the Club Committee to raise this
at meetings, and get the junk removed, so our fallen players
are offered the respect they deserve, but I've grown fed up
mentioning it, so don't bother anymore. Quite sad really...

And we turn left, through the door into the main stand. I will
take you round the ground clockwise. Here we look down to
the turnstiles, and the club shop,formerly the Supporters' Trust
one. The Trust say they happily gave the shed to the Club, when
they wanted it to sell their own souvenirs. Others say the Trust
were told to stop selling their stuff on the premises as they offer
nothing to the Club. You decide...

As we start walking round we look back at the main stand,
and the tea bar hatch. Note the blank black on the side.
The idea was to have this as a space for memorial plaques, for
supporters' who have passed away. The outside company
that did this never got any business, as the initial cost was
reasonable, but the annual charge was a rip off, so there
were never any takers, it's still referred to by some of us as
'the wall of death'.

This is the open terrace behind the goal.

With it being close season the goalposts were leaning on it.
I'd not noticed this sticker on them, from the 'health & safety
police' before!

Looking back to the side, from behind the goal.

And looking down the far side, again very little terracing,
but hard standing, with space to add more steps, if ever
needed in the future, I suppose.

And looking back behind the goal, from the side.

Our only bit of covered terrace, along the side. Referred by
some of us as 'the bus shelter'.

And a view of it from on the pitch.

Continuing past it, not the old floodlight pylon. Clearly
OUTSIDE the current ground, but within the boundary of
the old Champion Hill. Which was on a different level, with the
pitch in a different place too. This pylon is the ONLY thing that
remains from the old ground, which was completely
demolished. EVERYONE at Dulwich Hamlet considers our current
Champion Hill to be a new Champion Hill, yet there are a
few groundhoppers out there who, bizarrely, count it as the same

Note this turnstile block. The Isthmian League insisted we built
it to get our grading for the ground in 1992. You can count the
number of times they've ever been used on the fingers of
one hand!

And so behind the far goal. Identical to the other one.

And a view down the main side,again just hard standing,
no actual steps of terrace.

In the corner is the ld groundman's hut, and a load of old junk.
We had to fence this bit off to get the current grading.
Our very own 'Steptoe Corner'!

Looking at the main stand.

In the main stand. The front few rows were rotting away,
and then ripped out. Ruined by pigeon droppings, from the
roof. But now netting has gone up, and the new blue ones
installed by Fisher last season, to get their Conference South

Another view from the back, showing the press area.

And looking down to the touchline, and behind the far goal.

The half way line view from the stand.

And looking up to the players tunnel, and the boardroom
area. We'll come back to them later.

The new, larger dugouts, installed at the start of last
season, to satisfy groundgradings.

One final look along the new blue seats, before we head inside,
to go through the bar, and head towards the boardroom, through
the door at the far end of the bar.

In the corridor through thr door, is the old Club honours

The Club Crest on it.
The helmet,cross & feathers come from the crest of the Champion de
Crespigny family, on whose ancient land the ground is built; and Champion
Hill is named after, along with several other local roads.
The four crests incorporated into ours are:
Top left: The County of Surrey. Of which Dulwich was once part.
Top right: The badge of Dulwich. Associated with the College, where some of our founder members attended.
Bottom left: The old crest of the Borough of Camberwell, within whose boundaries the club played, unitl it was swallowed up by the London Borough of Southwark.
Bottom right: The badge of Westminster. Where some of our founder members went to, like Dulwich College.

The Club colours of Pink and Blue are from the pink of
Westminster College, and the Blue of Dulwich College.

And so into the boardroom, so many old photos on display, but
sadly rarely seen by fans. It is a shame that at least a selection
of these are not copied and put on display in the bar.

And dome of the commemorative scrolls, from the various
County FAs & the Football Association.

The Club Person of the Year award. A small indulgence on my
part by showing this. As my name is on it, and I am extremely
proud of that.

And before we leave the boardroom here is a gift from our
Estonian friends to the Dulwich Hamlet Supporters' Team, when we
visited Tallinn for the first time in July 2007.

And so down the stairs, to the players' tunnel.
Looking out towards the pitch, with the Conference
'interview board backdrop', in case Setanta were ever to pop

This is the tunnel itself.

And this is the home dressing room, with the away one
at the end of the corridor being a similar size.

Despite thinking otherwise after some matches, there does
appear to be a 'gameplan'! ;-)

And that ends your visit to Champion Hill.
Before we go, i leave you with a few snaps I took on a Sunday
morning in April, when there was a rare snowfall in London.