Thursday, 23 May 2013

West Ham United

West Ham United v Reading
Barclays Premier League
Boleyn Ground
Sunday 19th May 2013

Journey Time to the ground: 2 hours.  We left home at 1:45pm and decided to drive through Central London.  We managed to park up on Ernald Avenue off of Barking Road.  Luckily, as the game was on a Sunday, there were no parking restrictions in place.

The ground was a ten minute walk down Barking Road. 
Ticket Price: £49

Programme Price: £3.50

This was my third visit to the Boleyn Ground.  Each time I have sat in the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand Lower tier in the away end, and this time was no exception.  We were sat three rows back from the front of the stand, and although this was just above the level of the pitch, we did have a good view of the game.  We were sat just to the left of the corner flag, which meant that we were actually passed the touchline, at one end of the ground.  Although there wasn't much leg room between rows, this wasn't a problem.   This stand was shared with home supporters to our right, with a line of netting in between the two sets of supporters.  There were also home supporters in the upper tier above us.  

To the left of the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand is the East Stand, which is a two tiered.  It is the oldest stand at the ground, and is a lot smaller than the other three stands.  Opposite the East Stand is the Alpari Stand, an impressive two tiered stand which is the main stand at the Boleyn Ground.  This stand houses the players tunnel and the dugouts.  Opposite the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand is the Bobby Moore Stand, which is another two tiered stand.  There are two video screens, one between the corner of the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand and the East Stand, and the other in the opposite corner, between the Alpari Stand and the Bobby Moore Stand.  Overall, the ground is very impressive, if feeling slight imbalanced with the smaller East Stand.
The game started quietly, and definitely felt like an end of season game with nothing to play for.  Half-way through the first half, Alex McCarthy's attempted clearance hit Andy Carroll on the back of the head, and fell into the path of Kevin Nolan, who rounded McCarthy and slotted the ball into the empty net.  Ten minutes before half time, Ricardo Vaz Te coverted after being set up by Caroll, sending his shot across goal from the left hand edge of the penalty area, leaving Reading two down at the break.  
Reading finally woke up in the second half.  Ten minutes after the interval, Garath McCleary pulled a goal back, smashing the ball passed Jussi Jaaskelainen with the aid of a slight deflection.  Two minutes later, Reading were level, Adam Le Fondre tapping in a Nick Blackman cross at the far post.  The game remained fairly even until ten minutes from the end, when Nolan grabbed his second, sending McCarthy the wrong way when he was one-on-one with the keeper.  Nolan completed his hat-trick just before full time, heading Modibo Maiga's cross passed McCarthy.   

Attendance: 34,973 with 512 Reading fans.

Atmosphere:  The atmosphere was the best I have experienced for a long time.  The West Ham fans, particularly those in the East Stand closest to us, made a lot of noise throughout the game, only going quiet for a bit when Reading pulled the game back to 2-2.  The Reading fans were quiet until the second half and although there weren't that many of us, made some noise.  I hope that the atmopshere isn't lost when West Ham eventually move to the Olympic Stadium. 

Journey Time home: 2 hours.  We got back to the car just before 7pm and we were back home just before 9pm. 

Despite the result, and the stress of driving through Central London, this was a good day.  The stadium was good and the atmosphere tremendous.  Reading were poor, apart from a twenty minute spell at the start of the second half, but hopefully things will improve next season when playing at a lower level.  The West Ham fans were the friendliest I have encountered for a long time, with at least four taking the time to stop and wish us luck for next season, and one even asking for a photo with us!  It's a shame that West Ham will be leaving the Boleyn Ground, as the stadium is great.  I just hope the atmosphere can be retained at the Olympic Stadium.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


Fulham v Reading
Barclays Premier League
Craven Cottage
Saturday 4th May 2013

Journey Time to the ground: 2 hours.  We left home at 12:30pm and drove to Strawberry Hill.  We caught the train from Strawberry Hill to Putney.

The ground is a fifteen minute walk from Putney station, over Putney Bridge and through the park. 
Ticket Price: £40

Programme Price: £3.50

This was my sixth visit to Craven Cottage, and the fifth since it has been redeveloped.  Each time I have sat in the Putney End, which is behind one of the goals and has the away end, and also a neutral section.  There is no segregation in this stand and each time I have been there has always been a good mix of home, away and neutral supporters.  The stand is single tiered and feels temporary in nature, with the staircases being metal, and the floor feeling like it is made from plywood!  The view from this end is good, although the height between rows isn't the best.  There is also little leg room between rows.  We were sat towards the centre of the stand, around five rows from the front and had a good view of the whole of the pitch. 

To the left of the Putney End is the Riverside Stand, which is also single tiered.  This is the main stand and has the dugouts in front of the stand.  Opposite the Riverside Stand is the Johnny Haynes Stand, another single tiered stand, and the oldest stand at the ground, with a gable on the roof.  Opposite the Putney End is the Hammersmith End, which is identical to the Putney End, but just houses home fans.  In the corner between the Putney End and the Johnny Haynes Stand is The Cottage.  The house has some seating on the upstairs balcony to allow people to watch the game, and is also where the players come out from before the game.
The game started with Reading dominating possession for a change!  After 12 minutes, Hal Robson-Kanu was fouled in the box by John Arne Riise to earn a penalty which he dispatched himself, sending Mark Schawarzer the wrong way in the process.  The rest of the half continued with Reading having the majority of the ball, although Fulham did created a few chances that were well saved by Alex McCarthy.  
The second half started well for Reading.  Just after the hour mark Robson-Kanu had his second, curling a shot passed Schwarzer into the far post.  This seemed to wake Fulham into life, and they pulled a goal back ten minutes later, with Bryan Ruiz slotting passed McCarthy.  Almost immediately Reading restored the two goal advantage with Adam Le Fondre tapping in after rounding Schwarzer.  Again Fulham pulled another goal back with 15 minutes to play, with Ruiz scoring his second goal of the day with his head.  The scoring was completed in the final ten minutes with Jem Karacan firing the ball in from just outside the box, bringing the final score to 4-2 to Reading.   

Attendance: 24,087 with 1,215 Reading fans.

Atmosphere:  The atmosphere was good in the Putney End due to the Reading fans.  The Fulham fans did not make much noise throughout the game, and seemed to be a bit embarrassed to be losing 4-2 at home to the team that were bottom of the league.  

Journey Time home: 2 hours.  We made the short walk back to Putney station and caught a train to Strawberry Hill, before driving back home. 

This was a good day.  Craven Cottage is another easy ground to get to, and it was a relatively short journey.  I finally saw Reading play well for a full game, and get an away win, the first I have seen for a few years.  It's a shame that we will probably be playing in different divisions next season, as Craven Cottage is a really enjoyable day out, especially the walk through the park to and from Putney Bridge.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


Arsenal v Reading
Barclays Premier League
Emirates Stadium
Saturday 30th March 2013

Journey Time to the ground: 2 hours 30 minutes.  We left home at 10:40am and walked to Winnersh Triangle.  We caught the train from Winnersh Triangle to Clapham Junction then got the overground to Highbury & Islington.

The ground is a ten to fifteen minute walk from the station and is signposted. 
Ticket Price: £25.50

Programme Price: £3

Having never been to the Emirates before, I was quite looking forward to my visit.  The stadium is impressive from the outside and you have to walk up some steps to get to the entry gates, similar to Wembley Stadium.  We were seated in the Clock End Lower Tier in the away section to the right of the goal.  This stand is shared between home and away supporters, with small metal fences and a line of stewards separating the two.  The seats were the biggest I have ever seen at a football ground, and were padded.  There is a lot of leg room, but where the seats are as big as the backs of the seats, they catch when you stand, and can cause some problems when people are walking passed to get to their seat.  For such an impressive stadium, I was disappointed at the height between rows.  I felt this was too shallow and having a few tall people sat in front, it was difficult to see the whole of the pitch without standing up.  The Clock End has four tiers, with two small executive tiers between the upper and lower tier. 

To the left of the Clock End is the West Stand, which again has four tiers.  This is the main stand where the teams come out from, and also has the dugouts in front of the stand.  Opposite the West Stand is the East Stand, which is identical to the West Stand minus the dugouts.  Opposite the Clock End is the North Bank, which is identical to the Clock End, but just houses home fans.  There is a definate mini-Wembley feel inside the ground, especially with the oscillating upper tiers.
The game started with Arsenal playing in their usual fashion, passing the ball around easily.  Surprisingly Reading also tried to pass the ball around a bit, more so than I have seen for the rest of the season, although not quite as sucessfully as Arsenal.  Arsenal took the lead after 11 minutes, when Gervinho tapped in Santi Cazorla's cross.  For the rest of the half Arsenal continued to keep possession, but created few chances and Reading managed to keep the scoreline down to 1-0. 
The second half started poorly for Reading, with Arsenal scoring the goal that ended the game as a contest, Santi Cazorla curling in a delighful shot from just inside the penalty area after 48 minutes.  Just after the hour mark, Reading managed to concede from their own corner, with Olivier Giroud driving low passed Stuart Taylor following a sweeping counter-attack.  Almost immediately Reading got back into the game, with Hal Robson-Kanu heading in Jobi McAnuff's cross at the far post.  Sadly that was as good as it got for Reading, with Arsenal being awarded a penalty in the 77th minute when Adrian Mariappa brought down Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.  Mikel Arteta converted from the spot and the game finished 4-1. 

Attendance: 60,082 with 3,018 Reading fans.

Atmosphere:  There was no atmosphere!  The Arsenal fans lived up to their reputation and were very quiet throughout the game, and although the Reading fans tried to get a few chants going, the sound seemed to get lost in the stadium. 

Journey Time home: 3 hours 30 minutes.  After spending some time looking in the club shop, we made our way back to Highbury & Islington and caught the Overground to Clapham Junction.  We stopped at Clapham Junction to get some food from KFC, then caught the train from Clapham Junction to Winnersh Triangle.  We then got a taxi from Winnersh Triangle, and got home at about 8:30pm. 

This was another easy day.  The Emirates is very easy to get to, and considering how big the capacity of the stadium is, there was little congestion at the station after the game.  It was another poor performance though from Reading, and things will be much better next season when there is a chance of seeing the team win some games!  Although the Emirates is very impressive both inside and out, I was disappointed by the view of the pitch from my seat.  Considering it is a new stadium and everything else is great, this is the one thing that lets the stadium down.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur v Reading
Barclays Premier League
White Hart Lane
Tuesday 1st January 2013

Journey Time to the ground: 2 hours 30 minutes.  We left home at 10:50am and managed to get a lift to Winnersh Triangle station.  We caught the train to Vauxhall and jumped on the tube towards Seven Sisters.  As we had almost two hours to kill, we decided to get off at Highbury & Islington to have a quick look at the Emirates before getting back on the tube to Seven Sisters.  We got some food at a Colombian cafe before making our way to the ground.

The ground is about a twenty to twenty five minute walk away from the tube station, straight down the High Road  The ground is signed posted as soon as you come out on Tottenham High Road. 
Ticket Price: £32

Programme Price: £3.50

This is the second time I have been to White Hart Lane, but I was less impressed than on my first visit.  The ground is a good size with the stands all of an equal height, and is totally enclosed.  We were in the South Stand Lower Tier, right in the corner where the away allocation is.  We were row 25 and the view was very good with no obstruction.  I felt close to the action even being 25 rows back.  There is a small railing segregating the home and away fans, and a line of stewards, but the railing is so small that anybody could easily jump over it.  The South Stand has two tiers.

To the left of the South Stand is the West Stand, which is the main stand.  It has two tiers with a row of executive boxes running across the middle of the stand.  I had never noticed before, but this stand is slightly curved to allow a higher capacity than if the stand was straight.  To the right of the South Stand is the East Stand.  This is again a two tiered stand, but is slightly older, with a couple of supporting pillars.  Opposite the South Stand is the North Stand, which is identical to the South Stand, again with two tiers.  There is a television screen built into the roof of the North Stand.

The game got off to the perfect start with Reading taking the lead after four minutes.  Pavel Pogrebnyak went down quite easily to win a free kick on the edge of the area.  The free kick was taken by Ian Harte, who curled his shot up and over the wall, but a fraction too high, hitting the bar.  Pogrebnyak reacted fastest to nod the ball passed Hugo Lloris in the Tottenham goal.  I think that everyone in the away end was well aware that we had scored too early, and Tottenham equalised five minutes later, with Michael Dawson heading in a Gylfi Sigurdsson corner at the near post.  The rest of the half saw Reading repel wave after wave of Spurs attacks, with the scoreline somehow remaining 1-1. 
It didn't take long in the second half for Spurs to gain the lead.  On 51 minutes, Aaron Lennon's floated cross was met at the back post by Emmanuel Adebayor who powered his header passed Adam Federici.  Spurs continued to attack, but Reading had a couple of good chances to equalise with Pogrebnyak and Jimmy Kebe going close before Dawson cleared an Alex Pearce header off the line.  Almost straight after, Spurs extended their lead, with a deflected Clint Dempsey shot looping over Federici with just over ten minutes to go.  The game ended 3-1, but how Spurs didn't score more, I don't know.

Attendance: 36,180 with 1,679 Reading fans.

Atmosphere:  The atmosphere was very quiet.  I don't think Reading's early goal helped, as this seemed to subdue the Spurs fans.  It probably didn't help that it was New Year's Day either!  The away end sang pretty much the whole way through, but there was little in the way of chants coming from anywhere else in the ground. 

Journey Time home: 2 hours 45 minutes.  We decided to stop off in Oxford Street to have a look in the shops and get some food.  We caught the tube from Seven Sisters to Oxford Circus and spent a few hours in Central London.  It took around 45 minutes to get to Central London from the ground.  After spending a few hours on Oxford Street and around Piccadilly Circus, we caught the tube from Leicester Square to Waterloo at around 8pm then got the train to Winnersh Triangle.  We got a lift from Winnersh Traingle and got home at about 10pm.

This turned into quite an easy and enjoyable day.  White Hart Lane is relatively easy to get to, and travelling back through Central London was fun.  Although I was less impressed by the ground than I was on my previous visit, I still think that White Hart Lane is my favourite London away ground, although as I am yet to visit the Emirates, this could change.