Sunday, 6 September 2009

Day One

We started at 8.30am. A relative lie in compared to the days ahead.

Southend and Gillingham were first and second on the agenda and both came and went with no suprises. Both were closed so a quick few photos and back in the car. I took over driving on the route to Crystal Palace and immediately took us the wrong way, fortunately not irrepairably. By the time we reached Selhurst Park we were about 10 mins behind scedule but with no one around to let us inside we took some pictures of reception and the main entrance, grabbed a sandwich from sainsburys and headed off to Millwall.

No real problems with directions but the journey was slow. As we pulled up to the lights opposite the zampa road entrance to The Den there were a group of very shady looking characters on the corner. We drove down, under the rail bridge and parked over a factory driveway to get some photos. There was an open day in progress in the car park with kids on the millwall bus and everything. Really not as intimidating as a match day would have been. Even the dodgy guys outside the entrance turned out to be evangelical church goers... But you could have mistook them for a gang.. In the dark.. Maybe.

The trip to Charlton proved a total nightmare. Roads were chocker block, street names were different to that on the map and the blackwall tunnel was incredibly busy. When we arrived at the ground the security guard very kindly walked us through into the stadium. He also gave us some programmes to auction. By the time we left, we were over an hour and fifteen minutes behind schedule.

West Ham next and after a relatively easy drive considering the traffic at the tunnel, we were known at reception and security came down, presented us with a signed pennant and took us inside for photos. Terrific considering my contact at the club had only been able to give me 'possibles'. Very friendly and a lovely stadium.

Our contact at Dagenham had to leave before we arrived but he left behind 3 tickets to any home game for fundraising. We gratefully collected those and wandered into the ground for photos and a few minutes of the Daggers ladies match v Norwich.

Leyton Orient was a quick stop and go but fortunately the trip to Spurs was a good one and as we pulled into Bill Nicholson Way we were only about 30 mins behind time. Building work was still going on at The Lane and because of that we were able to signal one of the contractors who had security come and talk to us. The guy was very friendly and allowed us into the main entrance, through the inside of the stadium and out the tunnel to the pitch. My Dad's a big Tottenham fan so getting to do this was obviously a life long goal and made the trip wholly worthwhile for him!

From there to Arsenal was relatively simple and after email correspondance that were of no help we had no real expectations of the new Emirates Stadium. We pulled up in a surrounding road with derelict buildings along one side allowing us to park up and leave the car. We took photos and had a walk round before heading back to the car. As we went to turn round, purely by accident we happened to notice the main security entrance hidden under the stadium. I figured what harm can it do to ask them for some photos inside. After a small story looking for someone to take pity they eventually let us in and were actually really helpful. We spent about 10 minutes inside looking around at the impressive design.

After that we took the short journey over to the site of Arsenal's ols stadium Highbury. They've kept the east stand main entrance and made a very good job of turning into appartments but keeping the Arsenal football heritage involved in the land.

Early start tomorrow and a long day. Day 1 over though, 10 grounds down. 82 to go.

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