On the fifth day of Christmas – the best new ground


On the Fifth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me….a trio of new grounds to see

Hands up who isn’t excited by visiting a new ground? Not a brand new ground necessarily but one that you have never been to before. It’s that sense of excitement that it will be in some way different from all the rest you have seen in your life. Some grounds simply ouse excitement due to their location, some because of their design and some because of the atmosphere. In the past twelve months we have visited over 50 new grounds, some of which are forgettably familiar (sorry FC Midtjylland and Farnborough Town), some of which are as basic as basic can be (Whitehawk, Bethnal Green United and Llanelli) and some are full of character (Whitstable Town, SV Spakenbrug and Neath’s The Gnoll). But we have picked three of our “newbies” that just tick more boxes than most. God rest me merry gentlemen for the three Best New Grounds on 2010.

Ethnikos Asteras FC– Fancy watching a game carved into a hillside? Many point to Braga’s fantastic stadium in Portugal where one end is simply a sheer rock face, but it wasn’t the original rock-blasted ground. Second division Ethnikos Asteras’s Kessariani Municipal Stadium, located on the eastern outskirts of Athens sits high above the city but instead of having four stands, it has just three, with the rock face adding to the acoustics of the stadium. And that is not the only reason to visit the Kessariani. The club has a very welcoming supporters bar full of fans who are happy to share a beer with you and talk football. The stands are set above the playing surface meaning that everyone gets a good view of the action.  For more details on our visit click here.

Canvey Island – I am sure that in the middle of winter when the wind whips in from the adjacent Thames Estuary a place on the high terrace is probably not on many people’s lists of places to watch football, but our visit in July for the friendly versus FC Twente on a scorching hot day was almost idyllic. The sky was filled with fluffy clouds against a backdrop of serious blue, the view of ships going up and down the river was spellbinding and the club bar was as welcoming as could be. Add in some excellent football on the pitch from Dutch Eredivisie champions FC Twente you get the impression it was a cracking day out. Throw in a visit to the world famous Lobster Smack pub, a 20 minute walk along the sea wall and you can stick your San Siro and Camp Nou – give me Canvey any day.  For more details on our trip there in August click here.

Spartak Trnava – Football in Eastern Europe can be a bit mental. The fans are passionate, although in most cases volumes are a bit on the low side. However, a visit to Trnava, the seventh biggest city in Slovakia will see you right. Spartak’s ground is classic old school. A huge terrace behind the goal is dominated by the fanatical Spartak fans who do not give up their vocal and pyrotechnic support of their team throughout the 90 minutes. Two seated stands on either side of the pitch provide cover and the far end is another terrace. This is what football used to be like thirty years ago, with the floodlights leaning in to get a view of what is going on. Absolutely top notch.  For more details of our trip to Trnava click here.

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