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.