The 2009 TBIR Awards

Almost a year ago to the day we announced the first ever TBIR annual awards (see our announcement and video from last year).  The response was phenomenal and over the past month we have been taking nominations for this years gongs.  And ladies and gentlemen we are now ready to announce the winners (and losers) for 2009.  Click on any of the links for more details of the trips to the specific places.  Scroll down the page for our exclusive video as well or click here.  Drum roll please……

Best non-football trip in 2009
It’s not all about the beautiful game here at TBIR.  We love a bit of Rugby and Cricket too and in 2009 we were privilaged to attend a number of “small ball” events especially those during the Twenty20 World Cup.  So the winners were:-

3rd Place – England v Holland – Twenty20 World Cup Lords
England lose the opening game of the tournament at the world home of cricket and we got to watch it from the best media facility on earth.
2nd Place – Kent Spitfires v Sussex Sharks – Twenty20 Cup Canterbury
A beautiful sunny July day in Kent, fantastic picnic, cold beers…what could be better?

Sums up the day really

The Winner – The Super6′s Day in the Twenty20 World Cup at The Oval
A double header of South Africa, West Indies, Pakistan and New Zealand on a lovely sunny day?  What could be better – how about an all access media pass, the company of Danny Last from EFW and our own executive box to report from.  Days like these are rare but when they come you have to grab them with both hands.

Best Overseas Match in 2009
European football is what we are all about at TBIR and we are lucky enough to spend most of our week in the capital of cool, Copenhagen, giving us excellent access to the whole of Scandinavia.  So what games rocked our world in 2009 abroad?

3rd Place – HB Koge 0 FC Copenhagen 2 @ the SEAS NVN Arena
Bottom of the Superliga versus the top in a game full of incident, flares and generally bad behaved fans.
2nd Place -Stabaek IF 4 FK Tirana 0 @ The Telenor Arena, Oslo
Ever been to a game indoors?  On a plastic pitch?  In a press area with just one other person?  No neither had I until I went to the Telenor Arena for this one….oh, and what about a game that is subsequently investigated for Match Fixing by UEFA!

The Winner - FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Ireland 2 Italy 2  @ Croke Park

Croke Park full

An all or bust must win game for Ireland in a full Croke Park, one of the best stadiums in Europe.  Throw in some all access passes, a hotel opposite and a number of pints of Guinness with Dagenham Dan and you have the best Overseas Match of 2009.

Best English Match in 2009
Most of our time we wander from ground to ground watching football in the UK.  We saw over 70 games in 2009 in England (and two in Wales), seeing an average of over 3 goals per game.  We saw some great games, full of goals and incident so picking our top three was difficult so here goes.

3rd Place – West Ham 5 Burnley 3 @ Upton Park
West Ham are having a torrid season so when they went 5-0 with twenty minutes to go few thought they could throw it away..well 3 Burnley goals in 10 minutes almost brought this to reality.
2nd Place – Cambridge United 3 Luton Town 4 @ Abbey Stadium
Luton 2-0 down and reduced to 10 men with 40 minutes to go and boss Mick Harford’s job hanging by a thread.  50 Minutes later they ran out 4-3 winners….Harford was sacked 4 days later!

The Winner – Alfreton Town 4 Telford United 3 @ The Impact Arena

It's all over for Alfreton and the Police Dog makes his debut

Blue Square Conference North is not known for its passion normally but when the Play Offs beckon then its a different story.  The small Derbyshire town of Alfreton hosted a huge game with the home team on the verge of a promotion to virgin territory.  a humdinger of a game, played out in front of a passionate full house.  Seven goals, police dogs on the pitch and some “interesting” characters.  What more can I say!

The Worst game in 2009
Again seeing so many games means once in a while there will be a duff one and it’s not always the nil nil draw.  So the three below stick in the mind for lots of reasons.

3rd Place – Charlton Athletic 0 Nottingham Forest 2 @ The Valley
A freezing cold day and one of the only games still standing but all those who attended wish it was one of the other postponed games.
2nd Place – Millwall 0 Wycombe Wanderers 2 @ The New Den
I hadn’t been to Millwall for years and judging by this performance it will be ages before I go back again..

And the Winner – Malmo IF 0 Orebro 0 @ The Swedbank Stadion

Swedbank Panorama

A move to a new stadium should improve the quality of the games right?  Er no.  Malmo struggled to score in their first few games in their spanking new ground and this was one of a couple of turgid bore draws they played.  Forgettable.

Best Fans in 2009
We have seen the best, been with the best and drunk with the best…but who exactly were they in 2009?  Best fans were the noisiest, most passionate and vocal without bordering on hostile towards other fans.

3rd Place – Drogheda United Fans
Drogheda’s claret and blue army get our vote here for their huge display of support despite their team facing hard times on and off the pitch.  Away to Bohemians on a cold Friday night in October they never game up despite losing 4-0.
2nd Place – Borussia Monchengladbach
A 50,000 capacity stadium which is nearly always full despite their lowly position.  A green wall of sound – quite simply very impressive.

And The Winner is  SCC Napoli Fans

Napoli 2 Udinese 0

A delipated stadium, fans that border on the nutty and a lowly league position…Crap atmosphere right?  Wrong – what a cracking stadium – the noise will stay in your ears for hours.

The Best Stadium we visited in 2009
So after visiting 56 different stadiums what was the best in terms of atmosphere, facilities, fans and location in 2009?  Well lets see –

3rd Place – The LTU Arena – home of Fortuna Dusseldorf
C
lose to the city centre, easy transport links, wide open concourses with plenty of places for a beer and fantastic views from all 50,000+ seats.
2nd Place -  Borussia Park – home of Borussia Monchengladbach
Another 50,000+ Bundesliga stadium, full on almost every occasion with a rocking atmosphere.  It would have scooped the top award if it was easier to get to.

And the Winner is Croke Park – Dublin

Croke Park full

Sure it could have been the occasion, the event management or the game itself but Croke Park took on a magical veil on this chilly October night.  The Irish got behind their team 150% and it was a night few will forget who were there.

The Worst Stadium we visited in 2009
Another subjective one to try and call although one main criteria was any stadiums that had running tracks!

3rd Place – Frederiksberg Stadion – home of FB Copenhagen
Basic athletics ground, big running track and no cover…what more can I say?  Ah yes average attendance of 12.
2nd Place – Melbourne Park – home of Chelmsford City
I have nothing against Chelmsford City but their ground is a nightmare for fans.  Huge open spaces, strange little temporary stands behind the goal.  Not good.

And the Winner is Goldstone Road – home of Brimsdown Rovers

The teams emerge to a fanfare

I know they are only a Spartan League club, and the weather was appalling but basic is as basic does.  Hardly very welcoming for any fans.  Corrugated stands, no facilities in the stadium itself and an unwelcoming supporters bar where on the night of the game (an FA Cup tie) there was a “members only” event.

The Best Matchday Experience in 2009
When we pitch up at a new stadium for the first time we head straight for the bar to sample some of the local cuisine and chat with a few fans – what could be better.  So what were the most “welcoming” places in 2009?

3rd Place – Bromley FC
A sunny Bank Holiday Monday, a fantastic bar, great cheap food and locals who loved to chat about football.  So good that the Lewes team were still there a few hours after the game finished.
2nd Place – Bishops Stortford FC
A set of fans who welcome visitors, a bar that serves beer at £2 and even Teddy Sheringham in the crowd – what more could you ask for?  Well what about sprinklers that pop out of the pitch to soak the opposition goalkeeper – classic!

And the Winner is…..Lewes FC

The fantastic Dripping Pan

There could only be one winner….The home of Harveys Beer, close to the station in one of the prettiest towns in south of England.  Add in a decent clubhouse and some top fans.  Even when things on the pitch are not going to plan, the banter off the pitch will always take away your troubles.  Visit here NOW!

The Best Overseas Trip in 2009
Not to be confused with the best game overseas, this award is for the whole trip.  The company, the laughter, the madness and in certain people’s minds, the porn.

3rd Place – Naples
Pizza, Pasta, crime, porn, volcanoes, roman ruins and a bit of football – a great weekend break!
2nd Place – Sweden Under21′s Tournament
A long weekend of sunshine and good company as well as a couple of decent games, none more so that Sweden’s 5-1 win versus Belarus where all 6 goals could win MOTD’s goal of the month.

And the Winner is Ocktobeerfest

The EFW Ocktobeerfest team

Absolutely no doubt on the winner here….32 fans from all over Europe, 4 games of football and god knows how many beers and sausages – the video above sums it all up!  Expertly organised by EFW.

And Finally – The How did we end up here 2009 Award
Often we find ourselves in the most unusual places, and take advantage of the situation.  Here are the three best ones from 2009

3rd Place- On the pitch at Bromley FC
Thirty minutes after the game and me and the EFW team are on the pitch practising our penalties without a ball – classic British comedy.
2nd Place – In the Hamilton’s Flat
Long story short, Neil and Christine Hamilton are big fans of the blog and follow our every move via Twitter.  So when they wanted to meet up for lunch how could I refuse?

And the winner is The Perfect Storm
How could you every top a day like this?  All access pass to Lords Media centre for a Friends Provident cup game, then hot footing it up to Wembley Stadium for the Blue Square Premier Play Off Final between Cambridge United and Torquay United, again with a press pass before finally going down to the O2 for front row (literally) seats for the Blue Man Group.  Just pinch me!

So there we have it – time to put the tux away and roll up the red carpet.  Of course you can always revisit the best bits in our Highlights video.

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