Our raison-d’etre is to seek out new grounds, whether they be league or non-league, in England, Scotland, Ireland or Azerbaijan. The thrill of seeing the floodlights for the first time, entering through the hallowed portal and the wonder of seeing something unique about the club. We never tire of seeing and experiencing this. There are grounds that inspire dreams, legends and inspiration. And then there are the small number that leave you cold.
We all know that the lower down the league you go, the harder it is to find people who want to help out run a club. But there are some real basic things a club could do to make their grounds a little more appealing. However, the winner this year should never have been in this list, but it is because of one basic design flaw. So here we have our 2012 winners:-
3rd worst new ground visited – Sittingbourne’s Bourne Park
Before anyone lays into me about the difficulties in trying to run a non league club I know full well the reliance on volunteers. But there are some basics that any club could do to make a ground more appealling. Clearing dangerous thorns out of the eye line of fans walking around the ground, ensuring that exits are blocked with rubbish, covering up scaffolding poles. Just really basic things. Of course it is possible that my visit in pre-season was before this work was done, but these things left me cold. Sorry.
2nd worst new ground visited – Ilford’s Cricklefied Stadium
Again, no disrespect to any club officials but it is really hard to love any ground with an athletics track but one where attendances rarely break the 50 mark makes it feel so much worse. Non League football in East London struggles at the best of times, and I have ultimate sympathy for the clubs trying to fight against the big boys but without something to attract the floating fans it is hard to see how that magic spark of non league love can be spread. Sorry (again).
The worst new ground visited – Warsaw National Stadium
Last year I received a deluge of website visitors from Poland as I waxed lyrical about the atmosphere in the Polish Army Stadium, home to Legia Warsaw. Unfortunately 12 months later the only thing I am writing about Warsaw is about the new National stadium and how bad it was. Of course my judgement may have been clouded by a small issue of the failure of one individual to close the bloody roof. But as it is, that trip to Poland cost me two days annual leave, around £200 and an iPhone. Just because one person decided not to press the button that closed the roof. I’m sure it is a great stadium but my impression, and that of a few thousands England fans who were similarly affected, is that it is the worst new stadium we visited in 2012.