The proudest moment of my life…apart from the birth of my daughter

I may have seen the greatest football match of my life the other week. I have supported Tottenham Hotspur my entire life, not because of any family loyalty and definitely not for any glory but mainly because of the Moss Man figure from Masters of the Universe but that’s a different story altogether.

The Peter Crouch headed goal at Eastland on 5th May last year guaranteed Spurs a place in the Champions League. This would be the first time in my supporting life that I would get to see my team playing in Europe on a Tuesday or Wednesday night and not on Channel 5 on a Thursday.

I’m not one for nostalgia but I do recognise the history of the club I support and have been filled with a sense of optimism and excitement as well a deep sense of pride for the achievement last season. Many talk about the European pedigree of the club and of 1984 but I am just too young to remember that let alone feel part of it, this is my time and I want it to count. Continue reading

How I broke my European football weekend cherry

We all remember our first time don’t we?  We all look back now with fondness on that first time, the thrill of seeing it all for the first time after years of just looking at pictures in magazines, or dare I say it on the internet.  Those mistakes we made, the feeling of when things appeared to be going well but really we were doing it all wrong and doing it with someone who had never done it before as well.  Losing our cherry together….Still with me?  Want me to share my first time?  OK then, here goes.

We are talking European football right?  There will be no confessions of any other sort here thank you very much.  It would be unfair to talk about THAT first time in such a public way, especially as she is now a Hollywood star (that’s got you thinking hasn’t it!).  I know some of you are still virgins in not having watched a game abroad, wondering from afar how you can do it.  But I hope on these pages, and those of Danny Last’s European Football Weekends and Huddo Hudson’s Gannin’ Away amongst others will have wetted your appetite.

For someone who has travelled so much it may surprise you to know that my first ever European match was in January 2000.  There had been a few near misses – weekends away where there was no football on, or it had been moved for TV purposes but this weekend was a birthday treat from CMF and specifically for watching a game.  The destination ? Milan.  The game? AC Milan versus Lecce.

The internet wasn’t as advanced as it was today – in fact the website of AC Milan eleven years ago had only just added English content.  There was no way of buying tickets online so it was with some trepidation that we flew to Milan on a very chilly Saturday morning.  Our plan was to find the AC Milan store, buy our tickets there thus giving us virtually all day Sunday to sight see.  Great plan, but not for the first time we were thwarted by the ridiculous beaurocracy of Italy.  When we eventually found the store we were told that I should have faxed (faxed???) my bank details to them in advance as they could not accept my foreign credit card.  They wouldn’t even tell me how many tickets were available, and that our only avenue was to get tickets from the ticket office at the ground. Continue reading

Tour of duty

The other day I just happened to be in Milan – as you do.  There wasn’t a game on but it had been a while since I had been to the stadium so I thought I would pop along and have a sneak look at the stadium.  I have fond memories of the games I have seen in the San Siro, which include the 2001 Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Valencia, as well as a storming 6-0 win for AC Milan in the derby game in the same season.

The San Siro

I was shown round by Pepe, who answered my questions in a very knowledgeable way, but made a fundamental error.  Pepe claimed that the stadium was the 3rd biggest in Europe behind the Nou Camp and the new Wembley Stadium.  My facts and figures have never suggested that the ground could hold more than 81,000 but he claimed it could hold 85,000.  So we had a little €1 bet on it and I agreed to publish my findings here.  And I am pleased to say that my intimate knowledge of European stadiums has seen me win the bet.  According to all the sources I can find, including the official San Siro website the stadium currently holds 80,074 (For the 1990 FIFA World Cup it did indeed hold 88,500).

So that got me thinking about the other “top 10” stadiums and my trips there.  According to the most reliable source in the world, aka Wikipedia, they are as follows:-

  1. The Camp Nou – Barcelona – 98,772
  2. Wembley Stadium – London – 90,000
  3. Croke Park – Dubin – 82,300
  4. Twickenham Stadium – London – 82,000
  5. Stade de France – Paris – 81,338
  6. Signal Iduna Park – Dortmund – 81,264
  7. Estadio Santiago Bernabau – Madrid – 80,354
  8. Stadio Guiseppe Meazza aka “San Siro” – Milan – 80,074
  9. Luzhniki Stadium – Moscow – 78,360
  10. Old Trafford – Manchester – 75,957

So hands up who has seen a football match at all of the above?  No one – exactly!  Because as far as I am aware, Twickenham has never been used for a football match, and as of August this year when the Avivia Stadium opens in Dublin, nor will the magnificent Croke Park again.

Many readers are still to experience some of these stadiums, so what we have done is but a little slideshow together of them, including some behind the scenes footage from a couple.

So what is your favourite stadium of the 10?  We are all going all X-Factorish giving you, the reader, the chance to vote…