Friday 25 September 2009

Buckingham Town

I had the pleasure of visitng Buckingham Town in May 2009, following an afternoon match at MK Dons. A most unexpected 'double', with big thanks to our driver Jane.

Buckingham Town play in the United Counties League, & the ground has the lovely name of Ford Meadow. It is an awkward ground to find, where we almost ended up in a river running behind it! apparently the ground gets flooded at least once a season, and the clubhouse was in a bit of a mess, having not long ago being under water.

The game was the final of the local Buckingham Charity Cup, between Leighton Town & Banbury United, which finished 4-2 to Banbury. The officials on the gate were particularly friendly, and as the sun set in this picturessque ground it was a delight to be here. A perfect advert for all that is good in non-league football. This was probably my most enjoyable non-Dulwich Hamlet game for 2008/09. I say probably, because if I start thinking about it I'll recall another to trump it! ;-)

This was the club house, just outside the ground itself. Clearly well used by the local community, as there were notices pinned up for the North Bucks Ferret Club!

Inside it's how a non-league bar should be, as fae as I'm concerned. Lots of old photos & pennants on display.

This one caught my eye, due to their groundsharing at Champion Hill, and their imminent demise.

And this one. How they have progressed up the pyramid!

For some reason I didn't take a photo of the entrance to the ground, but here is the turnstiles & officials selling the programmes & raffle tickets, from inside.

The turnstiles are practically in this corner, & from here we're going to stroll round in a clockwise direction.

There's concrete standing along here, as we turn the corner towards the main stand.

More hard standing, as the tea bar & stand come into view.

Here is the tea bar...sorry 'hut'!

The stand is small, wooden, & not in the best shape. But it's great! Give me one of these with character over the small modern type structures at many step five grounds.

Wooden benching rather than plush seats.

From up in the stand we look back down towards the entrance.

There are some plastic seats in the 'officials' area, in the middle.

From the back we can see more of the bench seating.

Beyond the stand it is open once more, with concrete hard standing behind the pitch rail.

Down here we look back at the stand from the other side.

There is another, more recent. stand on the other side of the pitch. Presumably this was to ensure they got the grading when they played in the higher Southern League.

Past the stand, on the left, this perimeter wall is falling down. I noticed the goal & wondered if it doubled up as a 'training ground'! ;-)

Moving on, we're now at the next corner. Simple hard standing behind the goal. I wouldn't like to be here midweek in winter, but end of season it's very nice.

From behind the goal we look back over at the main stand.

To the left, the newer stand.

Another view of the main stand, from directly behind the goal.

And from the next corner.

Now we're heading down the far side, trees overhanging.

Another view of the main stand, from the opposite side.

Now we've reached the new stand. Better seating I suppose, but if I was a 'stting down' person I'd go in the older one.

I don't now how 'new' this stand is now, but I'd suspect it's been here for a few years now. They were in the Southern League from 1988 to 1997.

Looking down the stand, from the other end of it.

No, I've no idea why those 'spare' goalposts are up there!

Back on the hard standing, now past the stand, we look back at it from this side.

The ground is now open again, hard standing for the rest of the way round.

Here we are looking at the area behind the goal, where we came in at the far corner.

Set back is this pitch roller. Not quite sure why, but I like taking 'weird' photos like this.

From this end we look back at the new stand.

And over to the main one, from behind the goal.

And finally one last shot of it, with an injured player to 'rubberneck' at!

Thursday 24 September 2009

MK Dons

I was fortunate enough to visit MK Dons on the early May Bank Holiday for the Berks & Bucks Cup Final between Windsor & Eton and Marlow.
Fortunate because I got there by car, given a lift by an ice hockey friend. Certainly not a ground I'd have got to otherwise.
Also fortunate because it was cheaper than an MK Dons game to get in, & hopefully the county FA kept the money.
I don't particularly dislike MK Dons, though I am totally against the way they were allowed to evolve from Wimbledon Football Club to their current guise. But they are not going to disappear, & to me they are now just another club, albeit not one I particularly like.
I would return here though, if ever they complete the upper tiers. As you will see this is actually 'half a stadium'.

Stadium MK, built by the Buckingham Group, is a fair way from the centre of Milton Keynes. Not too far out to stop royalty opening the stadium though.

This is the access road towards the ground.

In the car park was a club mini bus.

Here we see the stadium from where we parked up.

The Club shop. Why they have to call it a 'superstore' I have no idea.

The outside looks impressive, but the upper tier is not finished!

Even for a minor game like this you had to purchase tickets from this window, no pay on the gate.

Another view of the outer shell of the ground, from further along.

No cameras eh? You're not going to deter this grounds blogger! ;-)

The actual turnstiles. (This snap was taken on the way out). You can see the modern barriers, where you insert your ticket, which is why you couldn't pay cash on the turnstile.

So now we're in the ground. Here you see the unfinished upper tiers, with the smart new lower section. I would guess they could easily put in the seating upstairs, if they progressed up a division or two, which would be the Premiership!

This is the lower seating behind one of the goals.

From this same corner were we entered we look across the pitch.

And over to the other side, which was the only part open for spectators.

On the concourses were a number of food outlets, most closed today. I cetainly wasn't paying those prices! There's a large ASDA next door, and we popped in there after the match. I highly recommend their meat & potato pies.

A novel way to raise money. This was on the concourse walls. It ma be done at a number of clubs, but not going to many professional grounds it's not something I'd seen before.

We're slowly moving round the concourse towards our section now. Here is another snap of the closed side. I do like the lettering in the seats.

Looking over to the spectator side, some Windsor fans are gathering towards the front.

From behind the goal we look over the pitch, with the concrete upper sections out of shot.

Here is one of the disabled areas, on the concourse, with a warning sign, saying no spectators on the actual concourse during the game. Proof that some prefer to stand, & that there should still be terracing.

We are early, & chat to a friendly steward. On the left is Dave, & on the right is Jane, our driver. They are both fellow Streatham Redskins fans.

This is the main stand side. Just look at all that executive glass frontage. This is clearly a club gearing up for top flight football eventually.

Another very similar shot of the opposite side.

And a rare snap of my good self posing at a ground!

The same side, but showing the seats behind the goal.

A strange sign...does it mean that you can use abusive language & aggressive behaviour in other parts of the ground?

The ground is still new, so even the toilets look smart!

Now we're finally round the side, so get a good look back behind the goal.

Almost kick off. We have a cracking view.

Despite many thinking of MK Dons as a new club, the Dons part reflects the fact they were formerly Wimbledon FC.

This is the area behind the goal at the far end.

Along the side, in the far corner area, there is more space at the back for disabled fans.

Marlow fans hang up their flags with pride.

This Marlow teddy seems to be catching forty winks at half time!

Here we look up the main stand, from the front, by the pitch.

These are the dugouts by the pitch, looking a bit strange to me, as they have no perspex roof.

I spotted these on the bottom of some seats.

A Marlow fan shows off his old, but cherished, sweat shirt to me.

Be nice when it's finished...

Looking down on some Windsor fans at half time.

Here a Windsor fan shows me his old fashioned rattle, which he explained dated back to the Second World War! Customised by himself.

Hefty stewards pitchside. Thankfully they never confiscated my camera! ;-)

The players start to return for the second half.

The final score, in what to be honest, was a pretty poor match.

The presentation table being set up.

Not very happy looking runners up.

The Windsor & Eton faithful start saluting their team.

And this is what they're cheering!

One last look across the pitch before we go.

Before we left Daved posed in an MK Dons scarf he'd bought. He collects scarves, Jane was taking a snap of him on her mobile to send to another Streatham fan, who also follows
AFC Wimbledon!