Friday, 5 August 2011

But what's the spread like - part 1

The new football season kicks off tomorrow, seemingly to nationwide shrugs. But no matter, it's the perfect time to rate the most important things any togger club can offer - the matchday facilities for those freeloading know-nothng weasels, the press.
I used to move at the runtish end of these fetid circles so here's a few gaffs I've sampled.
Remember they might have changed a lot since. Possibly they've replaced food with beatings, in these chastened times. I'll do the rest next week probably. If nothing else I'll tell you about Standard Liege.

Bolton Wanderers:
As you'd expect from a new-ish stadium, nice and clean. Good size press room, excellent view from the press box, friendly staff. Decent spread I think - can't really remember but I'm getting a strong pie vibe from memory. Stuart Hall let on to me as he was leaving, so any way you slice it I was the day's big winner.

AFC Bournemouth:
Small, tight ground with facilities to match. Staff were spot on, including the fella (I think this was Bournemouth anyway) who wrote all the copy for the programme, took the pictures, designed the pages and proofed them all. I think his wife had left him.
Also this was where I saw the fattest ever former player - worse than Alan Brazil. Can't remember his name but he was so big he had to sit in the aisle (on the stairs) as the seats were too modest for his stature. He was working for local radio I think.

Brighton & Hove Albion:
This was the Withdean and it was bizarre, but I really liked it. It felt more like being at the fair than the match. For those who don't know the Withdean is also a local sports facility, and while the match was going on there were some fellas having a game of squash inside the ground, under the stands I think.
There wasn't enough room in the press box for me (see above) so I watched the match with the home lads who do the tannoy annoucnements in this little hut. It was ace. Nice brew but can't remember the grub.

Charlton Athletic:
Oh the giddy days of the Premier League. Hot food and a nice brew before the match, sarnies at half time. Probably a scotch egg sliced three ways now with the South London Press man demanding first dibs.
Interesting variation on the press box at The Valley, which is an example of how you can re-do a ground but retain some of its character. It's actually the front row of the top deck of one of the stands. Works well and there are these tiny little tellies for you to watch replays on. Oh yes, for all the bellyaching you get in the press about referees missing things, you don't half hear a lot of 'who scored then?' in the trenches.
Only down side at Charlton is the press lounge is in a different bit to the box so you have to go outside and mingle - shudder - briefly with the public. Ghastly.

Utterly sensational. Ace food, booze, big old press room. Not massive press box and it's low down on the same side as the dug-outs, but there are tellies and that.
Can't remember what the staff were like, I was there with someone else (who was working) so I just stuffed myself and boozed solidly.
But the overall impression was definitely of the big time. For all the bluster and the upsetting the squares with their vulgar money spending, there is a definite air about Chelsea. They belong where they are. Whether they can stay there when the money tree dries up remains to be seen, but the swagger is definitely, justifiably, there.

Colchester United:
They'd just built the stadium when I visited and hadn't even finished all the roads, so it's probably improved a lot since then, but my overall memory is one of traffic jams.
Once inside the ground is like a lot of the other new ones for clubs at that level - tidy. Can't remember anything else but it seemed to be very green.

Crewe Alexandra:
Brilliant. A proper old ground with the press box at the top of the stand you see when the train pulls in (that stand is much higher than it looks when you're climbing up it). Probably the best view of any press box I've been in.
No spread as such but you get a voucher for a pie and a cup of coffee which you pick up from the bit under the stand. That's right, you have to queue with the paying public.

Crystal Palace:
Ace. Utterly sensational pre-match music and a perspex screen at the front of the press box to keep you separated from the general.
Really good eggs working there - the sort of people that keep a lot of clubs running with their goodwill. Some clubs, in fact I reckon most to a degree, take this a little for granted, which is one reason people working in football that aren't players get paid so badly. If you're doing extra for free why would they pay you more? Especially when there are people waiting to take your job?
There seems to be a real spirit of union between those working for the clubs that I've never seen in any other field of work, which I think is born from the knowledge that they're all getting slightly mugged for the 'privilege' of working in football.
Anyway there's a nice spread of sarnies in this little room under the stand (same corner as where the players come in) and you get a brew. Ian Snodin came bounding over after I nodded at him - I think he thinks everyone who lets on is someone he's met in a pub.
Bit of a squeeze for the press conference - they have to redo the room for this, a bit like after the meal but before the 'do' at a wedding. Only with Iain Dowie instead of a bride and their press man as the already brow-beaten groom.

Another corker here. Really friendly staff, nice little spread (pies, possibly sarnies I can't remember, tea) in a very small room under the Main Stand at stately Goodison Park.
Like their runtish upstart neighbours Liverpool, Everton's press box is small but functional - and why should they extend the free seats into the paying areas?
The view is exactly the same as any comparable bit of the ground in that there's always some of the match happening behind a colossal pillar, but it feels like a real stadium. One where great things have happened.
The press conferences are in the same room (again, this might have changed) where it's a bit of a squeeze but that adds to the feeling of it being, I felt, slightly more like a chat than a staged event. Quality.


  1. Press room "under the stand" at Goodison? It's up six flights of stairs, level with the press box.

  2. yes, but its under the stand. otherwise it would be in it