Wednesday 19 August 2009

Skonto FC; Riga, Latvia

Skonto must be the most famous of fairly new footballing nation Latvia They were Virsliga (Higher League) champions from 1992 until 2004! I was in Riga for a couple of days at the end of July, & took the opportunity to try to look at a few grounds. This is not just the home of Skonto, but also the National Team.

As I entered the stadium, having circuited the perimeter from the other side, I wandered through a car park type barrier & was behind the main stand. There was this results board on display.

The obligatory map of the ground, that all major clubs seem to have.

And the sign of naughty things not to bring inside!

Please don't ask...I have no idea who the players is!

Hanging up in the entrance was this team photo, but I didn't see much else, as the security guard looked a bit mean, & was quick in shooing me away!

With crowds of less than a thousand I really can't see the 'H Side' putting much fear into anyone.

This is the open area behind one of the goals, with a large open car park behind. I wasn't supposed to be withing the hanging perimiter fence, but I dived in one corner, & set off taking pictures, before I could be kicked out.

I'm going to go in a clockwise 'circle' from this corner & head round. The first stand we see is this one, which appears to be the main one, as the entrance is behind it.

It stretches the full length, the weird building down the end is a large indoor sports hall facility. We also see the players tunnel, & also the stand on the other side of the pitch that stretches round from behind the goal & then the full length of the pitch.

Here we get a view of it.

And as it continues along to the end.

Now that I've got main photos of all sides I can take my time, & walk round properly, not worried about geting 'caught' and ejected! So I'm back in the corner of the stand where we started, & right by it is this pile of seats & scaffolding from some previous temporary construction. Maybe the empty space behind the goal, who knows?

Now I'm up in the seats, and we're looking across the stand, toward the sport hall.

And from the centre we look over to the other seating.

These are the press seats.

We're now looking down to the dugouts.

Presumably some of these seats, at the back railed off, are for the executive types.

The dugout just goes on & on!

Just past it are 'reserved' seats, in the ordinary seats, for the overspill of big international squads, I presume.

Through here, sitting to the left, who can't see me, is the intimidating security guard!

I have no idea what this organisation is, but as they've left their website on the hoarding, we all do now.

Behind the goal, in the corner, on the wall of the sportshall, is the electronic scoreboard.

The Skonto website is also advertised.

From this corner we look back down the stand we've just walked along.

Before we're behind the goal & at the tunnel.

The hall really was huge, but in total darkness, so I couldn't get any snaps, but one adjacent room was open, which appeared to be the press room.

From up here I could look through the window & across the pitch.

As well as a higher angle along the seats.

Not the poshest of chairs for the international managers, or have they hidden away comfy leather ones for World Cup ones? ;-)

We're now back out of the tunnel, & turning left. This is the section of seating behind the goal.

From right behind the goal we look at the stand down the far side.

And the other one...

In this corner are these balconies. I have no idea what they are for.

Now we're looking down the full length of this stand.

Once more, over to the other side.

Here we look back behind the goal.

Before another similar shot, looking along this stand.

Across the pitch once more...

This hoarding caught my eye, for it tells us where Skonto comes from.

Now at the end of this stand, I climbed up to the back rows, & took a shot back along it...


And down behind the open goal where we started.

As I was completing my tour a young security guard came over, & after I explained I was English, he tried to explain that I must leave now, as it was private. I has happy to do so & I'd finished our tour of the Skonto Stadium!

One last picture, on my way out.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Daugava Stadium; Riga, Latvia

This is another of the main grounds in Riga, the Daugava Stadium. It is sometimes used to stage Latvian Under 21 internationals, but I am not sure if any domestic clubs use it for league matches, so if anyone knows which team(s) are based here I'd be most grateful.

The ground itself is clearly a throwback to the old Soviet era, but it is really only 'one sided' as you will see. The most striking feature being the gigiantic floodlight pylons in each corner.

The stadium name is monogrammed into the iron gates.

This is one of the entrances, by the side road, set back from the stadium.

As you can see from this map, the main stadium has a running track. Of the other three-the one to the right is all-weather; the one to the immediate left is the second, also all-weather, pitch; & the last, furthest left, is overgrown, and has an old, worn track around it. None of them have any spectator facilities of any note.

This brick wall surrounds the main pitch, & through these trees we see some sort of youth match in progress on the second pitch.

The illustrations of the radio & video camera show you just how old this sign is!

Here we are in the lower tier of the main stand of the stadium.

We will return to here later, but from here we are going to walk round the pitch in a clockwise direction.

As I say, it is a one sided ground, & here you can see how open it is behind the goal, but oh! Look at those pylons! They really are magnificent!

Here is a view up one, from the rear.

The stand is two tiered, with no protection from the elements.

Here we are directly behind the goal, with an assortment of ahtletics equipment partically blocking our view of the pitch. I don't think I would have been standing here if there was a match on!

I took the next couple later in the evening, as the cloud had moved on, lookibg at the main stand, from behind this goal.

This was one I took at the time...with the cloud!

Now for one of the front of the pylons. I'm not really 'into' pylons, though I know there are some out there who are, but with could I resist?

Completely open down the far side, not even a single step of terracing.

From the halfway line, we look across to the stand.

And now towards the far goal, sprinklers on, & big old scoreboard behind.

From that end we once again glance at the stand.

This is the end nearer to where we are.

A close up of the electronic scoreboard.

Now we're on the main side again, looking the full length of the stand.

Presumably these are the 'posh' seats, the small overhang offering a modicum of cover.

From here we look over to the open side.

Looking down the lower tier, from the back rows of it.

And behind us, these appear to be press seats.

This is the way into the lower tiers, from the concrete concourse behind, but from here the gates to the upper sections were all firmly padlocked shut, so I couldn't get any pictures from up there, unfortunately.

Now were back in the ground,lower tir, looking over to the end where we started.

This looks like an 'ultra' type sticker, though I have no idea which club.

Back behind the stand this signage tells us how to leave in the event of an emergency, I think.

Inside again, we look over the pitch once more.

And along the lower tier the last time, before leaving.

Here is the rear of the stand.

And another shot, further along.

One last look at the 'scoreboard end' on the way out.

The grounds were, until very recently, the base for the Latvian Football Association, though their offices are now empty. They were in a 'stand alone' building, set away from the stand.

This is the official Latvian Football Team bus, which was parked up here.

All you need to know on the back.

And on the way out to the main road, was this large football hoarding, advertising international matches.