Saturday, 28 February 2009

Football Snapshots – Lancaster City


I know that is quite a bad picture but if you can’t make it out its Lancaster City’s ground – The Giant Axe. Dropping somebody off at Lancaster Rail Station last night gave me a chance to take this picture and show how close the ground is to the rail station in Lancaster.

The game taking place was Lancaster City Reserves vs Formby FC Reserves which finished 2-1 to Lancaster. (Match report can be found at -

I will be visiting this ground next Saturday as Lancaster City take on Salford City in the Unibond Division 1 North as part of a double header of games this week. It has been a while! Football Snapshots will be a sporadic feature when I can to take some interesting (erm..) pictures of anything I come across. Bring on Hearts vs Motherwell on Wednesday!


Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Classic Players 1 - Bruno Labbadia

While it will be just over two weeks till my next game (hopefully a report coming from the home of football) another feature I have decided to throw into this blog is to take a classic look back at some of the classic players that I have witnessed play over the years.

The rules are simple:

- I must have seen this player play live at some point

- Made some impact into the game(s) I have seen them.

Therefore, it was easy to pick the first one. I give you, Bruno Labbadia. (pictured playing for Arminia Bielefeld)


While Bruno did not score the very first goal I witnessed live (that goes to fellow Arminia player Jorg Bode -örg_Bode) I saw him play 9 times, and scored 8 goals, thus having a great 0.89 goal per game ratio when I viewed him. Labbadia had also played for most of Germany’s top clubs including Hamberg, Kaiserlautern, Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen before joining Bielefeld in Summer 1998 and finished top scorer for club and in 2.Bundesliga with 28 goals that season. What I always found amazing with Labbadia was that his work rate was not the best, in fact he would frequently become anonymous during games yet always popped up with the ability to score vital goals at vital times. After leaving Bielefeld in 2001 he joined Karlsruhe where ironically I watched him play a final time, away at Vfl Bochum in the 2001/2002 season.

He is now manager of top flight club Bayer Leverkusen, having been there since the start of the season and his team currently sits in 5th place, still in the hunt for the Bundesliga title. So it may appear that one of Germany’s great strikers of the 1990’s (only got 2 international caps!?) is making the transition to a top class manager too.


Games: 9

Goals: 8

Goals per game: 0.89

Games witnessed: Bielefeld vs Oberhausen (2-0), Bielefeld vs Dusseldorf (2-0), Bielefeld vs Furth (2-1), Bielefeld vs Gutersloh (3-0), Schalke 04 vs Bielefeld (1-1), Bielefeld vs Frankfurt (1-1), Bielefeld vs Schalke 04 (1-2), Bielefeld vs Osnabruck (3-1), Bochum vs Karlsruhe (1-1)

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Football Articles 1 – The Story of Hoffenheim

In an attempt to keep this blog updated as the next game I will be attending won’t be till the 7th March, I have got two features that I will use to “pad out” that haven’t been blatantly copied from other great Ground Travelling blogs. The first is publishing my articles that appear in various newspapers and magazines, all on the subject of the beautiful game.

Article: #1

First Appeared: SCAN News – Week 5, Lent Term

Date: 10th Feb 2009

“German upstarts Hoffenheim are a footballing model”

Now the transfer window has been slammed shut and clubs and economists alike take into account the money spent across the country, a story is developing in Germany that has, at least for this reporter, brought back my belief in the ‘beautiful game’. While all the talk today seems to be how much money a club can spend, such as £100m for Kaka or Tottenham Hotspur spending £48m alone in the recent transfer window, a club is taking the Bundesliga (Germany’s top division) by storm.

Yet like most stories today in football, money is involved. Little known TSG 1899 Hoffenheim were floating around the Verbandsliga (Germany’s 5th tier) in 1990, when ex player Dietmar Hopp invested in the club and became their financial backer. Hopp was now the co-founder of software firm SAP and began to invest in the team and by the 2000/2001 season they were in the Regionalliga. (Germany’s 3rd tier) Yet it was in 2006 when the club began to be really noticed, firstly by appointing ex Schalke manager Ralf Rangnick who admitted he felt he had been ‘abandoned’ by the Bundesliga side after the failure to win the league in 2006. This appointment along with the signings of ex Bundesliga players allowed the club to gain successive promotions firstly to the 2.Bundesliga in 2007 and then a 2nd place there in only their first season in that league allowed the club to enter the Bundesliga, Germany’s equivalent of the Premiership this season.

While Hoffenheim’s rise may seen the stuff of dreams, it got far better this season with their outstanding first season in the Bundesliga. While expected to fight against relegation this season, Hoffenheim have exceeded all expectations and found themselves finishing before the Winter Break top of the league and ‘Herbstmeister’ (Autumn Champion). This included heavy wins against Hamberg (3-0), Dortmund (4-1) and Hannover (5-2), all German heavy-weight teams. Hoffenheim also lost to Werder Bremen 5-4, in what many fans consider one of the greatest games in the Bundesliga.

Hoffenheim during the Winter Break also moved stadium to the 30,000 capacity Rhein-Neckar-Arena, which sold out for their 2-0 win over Cottbus which continued their great form. This is all the more amazing as Hoffenheim’s population is only 3,500. Hoffenheim’s success can be attributed to their signing policy, which unlike some clubs they try to avoid big ‘marquee’ signings and go for young, hungry players. Two of the major success stories this season have been Tobias Weis and Vedad Ibišević. Weis had been released by Stuttgart as a youngster before joining Hoffenheim in 2007. Now Hoffenheim’s first choice right winger and a national team call up to Germany in the bag, Weis seems to be going from strength to strength. More amazingly is the story of Ibišević, who until this season had been a typical ‘journey-man’ striker who floated around clubs and their reserves. Yet, it is Ibišević who leads Bundesliga scoring charts on 18 goals, 5 ahead of 2nd place and well ahead of regular strikers such as Luca Toni, Mario Gomez and Claudio Pizarro. While a cruciate ligament rupture may deny him the top scorer award this season, any repeat of this season’s form would establish him as one of Europe’s leading marksman.

Despite all of this, many German football fans and neutrals looking in, do not like Hoffenheim and would rather see another title rival such as Hamberg or Hertha Berlin win the league. They point to Hopp’s financial backing and also the fact that without his money, Hoffenheim would still be a mediocre team in the lower leagues at best. Other managers have also had their say, such as Freiburg’s Robin Dutt who after a defeat to Hoffenheim last season stated, “I wish this team would go up and then we can forget about this joke”. However, Hoffenheim must be congratulated for their success so far. They have not spend millions upon millions on players and wages, instead, buying hungry and young talent instead of big name stars. They also could not outspend clubs in the Bundesliga, with giants such as Bayern Munich, Dortmund and Werder Bremen all having more to spend. This contempt for little Hoffenheim may be as a result of jealously at their sudden and rapid success. However they finish this season, Bundesliga Champions or not, expect to hear more and more from them in the future. They may be playing a team near you in the Champions League next season...


Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Hamilton Academical vs Heart of Midlothian (31/01/09)

Match 41

Ground #: 17

Ground: New Douglas Park

Competition: Scottish Premier League

Kick Off: 3pm

Cost: £11 (concession ticket)

Programme: £2.50

Attendance: 3,567

Hamilton Accies 2

Mensing 12', 52' (pen)

Hearts 0


Travelled up by car to watch Hearts take on newly promoted Hamilton Accies in the SPL. The Accies were promoted last season and had so far (except a 7-1 drubbing against Rangers) had acquitted themselves well in their first season back in the top flight since 1988. In fact they were currently enjoying 4 match winning run and 4 straight home wins. Hearts however were still reeling from the news that club captain Christophe Berra had travelled down to Wolves to sign for the Championship side.

I had Hamilton on my list as SPL teams I had no seen previously either at Tynecastle or away (the others now being Rangers and Dundee Utd) and so I took this opportunity to see Hearts and tick a team off my "must see" list.

New Douglas Park has only been open since 2001, and is still incomplete (although Hamilton currently do not get big enough crowds to justify the building of two permanent stands) as only the Main Stand which houses the homes fans and the 'Spice of Life' Stand which houses the away end. While there is a small East Stand, this is only open I was reliably informed when away fans fill the 'Spice of Life' Stand.

Accies Pic 1 (reduced)

The ground itself is a strange one, being in-between a Morrison's and Sainsbury's Supermarket while Hamilton West rail station is behind it. After finally finding the away end entrance (you have to walk through an underground car park to get to it) I was in to watch the mighty Jambos!

It would be hard for me to give a match report without being bias, however currently match highlights can be found here on BBC Sport :


Referee Eddie Smith made some strange decisions to say the least as Hearts slumped to a 2-0 defeat and ended a 19 match winning run over Hamilton. With very few players from either side impressing, the notable exceptions were Hamilton's Simon Mensing and Hearts's Michael Stewart.

So while a defeat for Hearts takes my record of seeing them to 2 wins in 14 games. Hamilton have every reason to be proud of their current achievements and likely survival in the SPL.

Accies Pic 2 (reduced)


Match Ratings:

- Match: 3/10 (never nice seeing your team lose)

- Value for Money: 6/10 (£11 in the SPL is very cheap)

- Ground: 5/10 (needs finishing really, tidy would be a word to describe it)

- Atmosphere: 3/10 (Eddie Smith got some abuse from Hearts fans, Hamilton very quiet)

- Food: 6/10 (cold pie that was strangely nice and a good bovril)

- Programme: 4/10 (only marginally better than Bury's, too many adverts)

- Referee: Erm.....

Accies Programme (reduced) Accies Ticket(reduced)

Sunday, 1 February 2009


Just an introductionary post just testing out this "blogging" lark.

Having read some very good and interesting blogs on other fans travels around grounds and beyond, I now feel compelled to share my stories (however boring they are) about my visits to the various places I go to watch football.

I support Hearts FC, an Edinburgh club for those who don't know. However having moved around so much in my childhood I have seen different grounds and games in various places, I have taken in a lot!

While some of the old games wont be published or talked about on here (my first game was in 1999), I will still keep a list of grounds that I have been to, in an attempt to move up to the 100 Grounds mark.

Tomorrow I'll publish the game I was at yesterday (Hamilton Accies vs Hearts) and we'll get the ball rolling from there.