Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Day Eleven

The longest day yet. It all started with a 155 mile drive from Cardiff to Plymouth and all before 9am. We arrived before most of the staff so as they walked in we grabbed them and allowed one unfortunate guy to escort us into the stadium. There was a rather flat feel to the place after last nights loss at home to Watford. One of the most impressive club shops outside the premiership though. That said, they did have one of the strangest leaflets i've ever seen at a football club. A had to picture it and use it as tonights pic. Football team funerals huh? Where does it all end? ...

Torquay next and our contact was Frank Prince. As we entered reception we noticed that all the pictures from Torquay's promotion season hanging on the walls were actually taken at Southend. Frank walked us out and allowed us to go on the pitch. Only the 2nd ground to allow us to do so. From there we were shown around the dressing rooms where we were presented with a pennant signed by the manager Colin Lee. Dad recalled watching Colin on his debut for Tottenham scoring four goals and winning 9-0. Frank let Dad continue to try and remember and dig his hole even deeper until finally he admitted to being the captain of the opposition that day and being substituted after going 6 down! We met Colin just after this and he was obviously busy but found time to speak to us which was great.

We arrived at Exeter knowing we'd be collecting an item to put towards fundraising but neither of us expected to be there for long. But, we probably enjoyed out tour and cup of tea with club operations manager Andy Gillard more than any other team throughout this penultimate day. A small and personal stadium which just ouzes character.

Yeovil was next on the agenda and they'd been kind enough to donate 2 tickets to auction. We geatefully collected them, took some photos and made the trip down to Dean Court/Fitness First stadium to visit Bournemouth. There's very little that actually advertises the club on the exterior and on the inside we were suprised to see that no further work had been carried out to build some kind of stand behind the park end goal since our last visit in 2003.

Southampton proved to be the last stop along the South coast. We were taken inside St Mary's at 5.05pm but knew we'd be unable to reach Portsmouth before the club workers went home, so we decided to shoot up to Reading to watch the game with Cardiff.

As we arrived at the Madejski we were very impressed with security as they allowed us to park at the stadium because of our tour. Good news didn't last long though. Although it wasn't a sell out, it was all ticket and despite the charity work we're doing and the fact that we'd contacted them regarding the possibility of seeing the game 3 months earlier they simply refused to help. We could be '2 Cardiff fans looking to cause trouble' they said. And we should have contacted them earlier as well apparently. 3 months wasn't enough... The only real disappointment that i'll take away from this tour, especially as we worked so hard to get there on time.

The final day looms large all of a sudden. Aldershot, Swindon, Wycombe, Portsmouth and Brighton are all thats left to complete. Although we're still toying with the idea of going back into London on Friday to see inside the grounds we failed to on day 1. We shall see.

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