Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Day Ten

Just two days left. It was a rather depressing moment today as we reached the 80 club mark. We weren't supposed to reach that level until tomorrow but we've given the finish to our tour a lot of thought over the last few days and decided that we'd like to go back to the 4 grounds we didn't get inside of on Day 1. It may be that we dont manage it but we're going to give it a go.

First up this morning was Coventry City. The Ricoh Arena is a new symetrical stadium that's impossible to see inside of without being taken inside so we were relying on security being around. 7am, they were there. A good result really as the security guard who showed us round worked at the old Highfield Road stadium and had too many stories for us to be able to listen to unfortunately. We thanked him for his time and made our way to Hereford.

Edgar Street is a strange stadium. It has a semi-circular stand behind each goal and a two-tiered stand running along one side of the pitch. We parked in the players car park and made our way inside. The guy on reception begrudgingly allowed us in but happily ushered us out as soon as he could. It was a shame because i really enjoy the visits to the lower league teams. Wont be too disappointed if they and Darlington were the 2 teams to drop out of the league this year. When we returned to the car we were almost blocked in by the players arriving for training. 5 minutes later and we'd have had a serious problem!

Cheltenham and the two Bristol clubs came and went very quickly without any noticable incidents worthy of mentioning. All were very welcoming and happy to show us in for photos.

We made our way into Wales for a non '92' stop at the Millennium Stadium. We'd been given 2 free tickets to do the tour and arrived a few minutes before it was due to begin. It looks a magnificient structure from the road or other side of the river taff. What lets it down, both inside and out is the there's very little advertisement of the fact that it hosts the Welsh national football and rugby teams. However, we learnt some interesting facts on the way round. They bring in a falcon bird to chase out all the pidgeons twice a week. It has to be a specific type of bird because they only want it to chase and not catch. Also, it amazed me at the amount of work that goes into relaying the pitch. It needs 188 lorry loads to deliver the 7312 1.3m sq pallets of grass required and costs over £150,000 everytime.

Cardiff City's new stadium was next. As we arrived we could see the frontage of the old Ninian Park still clear and easily accessible for photos. Workmen were onsite and wouldn't allow me in so i asked the guard to take some for me. He wandered off with my camera. After a couple of minutes, Dad and I were convinced that he wasn't coming back.. But he did, and he'd actually taken some very good shots.

Up at the new stadium my contact, Scott Young, met us with his colleague Joe. They took us on a very relaxed tour of the ground, totally unrushed and full of stories from the days at Ninian including Scott's winner against Leeds in the FA Cup when Leeds were top of the Premier League. We got some great pictures from the executive boxes at the top of the main stand. We left at about 4pm, ahead of schedule, to check in at the hotel before the game at Swansea.

The Liberty Stadium is very similar to Cardiff's new ground. Very impressive both outside and in, which gave lots of photo opportunities. We collected our complimentary tickets and after dinner, made our way inside. Seats were very impressive in the West stand upper. Although it didn't look as though there was a bad view in the house. Lee Trundle was sat a few rows infront of us so we asked him to sign our programme a left him to watch the game between his current employers and the side he's on loan to. It turned out to be a pretty boring 0-0 draw but there was a very lively atmosphere and sound really travels around. We were very grateful for the hospitality they showed us. The gulf in class between here and Hereford is scarily large.

A long day tomorrow starts with a 3 hour drive to Plymouth. I hope they're in....

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