Top English Football Grounds Advent Calendar 2018: 10th December

15 Bradford (1)

Day 10 – Ground no. 15: Valley Parade, Bradford City

The – tragic – history of the fire in 1985 makes a visit here very emotional. But it is in itself a lovely ground. The Midland Road stand looks like an iceberg sliding over an edge. The steep road behind the old school-looking Bradford End (even though it is only from 1991). The huge Kop and Mainstand that has not been completed the entire length of the pitch is such a stark contrast. And finally the view from the Kop over the lights of the city and the good old fashioned floodlight pylons. I love it.15 Bradford (6)

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15. Valley Parade, Bradford City

16. Villa Park, Aston Villa

17. Boundary Park, Oldham Athletic

18. Turf Moor, Burnley

19. Bootham Crescent, York City

20. Anfield Road, Liverpool F.C.

21. Elland Road, Leeds United

22. The County Ground, Swindon Town

23. St. Andrew’s, Birmingham City

24. St. James’ Park, Exeter City

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Top English Football Grounds Advent Countdown 2018: 9th December

16 Aston Villa (1)

Day 9 – Ground no. 16: Villa Park, Aston Villa

Maybe it is just a pastiche over Archibald Leitch’s classic but sadly now demolished Trinity Road stand, but I love the sight of The Holte End. The bricks, the golden letters, the stairs. Even the new Trinity Road Stand distinguishes itself from modern grounds with it’s irregular shape. Surrounded by the park with Aston Hall, The Holte pub, terraced streets, this is the place for a football ground. In side, the four separate stands make it feel old school – even though the floodlight pylons have gone.

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16. Villa Park, Aston Villa

17. Boundary Park, Oldham Athletic

18. Turf Moor, Burnley

19. Bootham Crescent, York City

20. Anfield Road, Liverpool F.C.

21. Elland Road, Leeds United

22. The County Ground, Swindon Town

23. St. Andrew’s, Birmingham City

24. St. James’ Park, Exeter City

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Top 24 English Football Grounds Advent Countdown 2018: 8th December

17 Oldham (4)

Day 8 – Ground no. 17: Boundary Park, Oldham Athletic

Despite a brand new north stand, Boundary Park can still thrill you with some good old-fashioned features. Like the floodlight pylons recognizable from a long distance. And the old main stand have all the features of good old proper stand. The basic blue wooden doors in the red brick wall – it is hard to tell the difference between the players’ entrance and a turnstile. The narrow corridors, doors and stairs of the concourse, the irregularities and curves. Even slightly restricted view to make you move in your seat!17 Oldham (5)

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17. Boundary Park, Oldham Athletic

18. Turf Moor, Burnley

19. Bootham Crescent, York City

20. Anfield Road, Liverpool F.C.

21. Elland Road, Leeds United

22. The County Ground, Swindon Town

23. St. Andrew’s, Birmingham City

24. St. James’ Park, Exeter City

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Top 24 English Football Grounds Advent Countdown 2018: 7th December

18 Burnley (1)

Day 7 – Ground no. 18: Turf Moor, Burnley

Turf Moor may not be that big, but then neither is Burnley. Maybe that is why Turf Moor somehow seems to dominate the townscape. Inside the ground, the stands seem unusually close to the pitch. There is not much space between the seats. It is very intimate. It is basic old school, no pretense of being a global tourist magnet with flash glass facades. One thing, though, has been added since my visit. An impressive memorial garden. It will only strengthen the feel of a strong community.

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18. Turf Moor, Burnley

19. Bootham Crescent, York City

20. Anfield Road, Liverpool F.C.

21. Elland Road, Leeds United

22. The County Ground, Swindon Town

23. St. Andrew’s, Birmingham City

24. St. James’ Park, Exeter City

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Top 24 English Football Grounds Advent Countdown 2018: 6th December

22 York (1)

Day 6 – Ground no. 19: Bootham Crescent, York City

Sadly doomed, Bootham Crescent have all the ingredients for a proper match day experience. A very short walk from the city centre along terraced streets – and there it is. The main stand is stunning with its red brick walls and wooden chalets. It has all the irregularities of a ground that has developed over more than 80 years. And the all too rare thrill of a standing terrace behind the goal. And all around the ground, you feel the presence of the town with its terraced housing.22 York (2)22 York (3)22 York (4)22 York (5)22 York (6)

19. Bootham Crescent, York City

20. Anfield Road, Liverpool F.C.

21. Elland Road, Leeds United

22. The County Ground, Swindon Town

23. St. Andrew’s, Birmingham City

24. St. James’ Park, Exeter City

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Top 24 English Football Grounds Advent Countdown 2018: 5th December

23 Liverpool (1)

Day 5 – Ground no. 20: Anfield Road, Liverpool

The name is iconic, and so, too, is the Kop end, even though the days of a giant terraced embankment are long gone. It is an impressive sight to stand at the opposite end and see the Kop rising from its seats to follow the action.

But the most impressive is the place. Seeing the ground rise above the terraced streets, as you approach from Stanley Park. The new main stand and the memorials may have cut into the housing, but the ground very much is the centre of a community.

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20. Anfield Road, Liverpool F.C.

21. Elland Road, Leeds United

22. The County Ground, Swindon Town

23. St. Andrew’s, Birmingham City

24. St. James’ Park, Exeter City

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Top 24 English Football Grounds Advent Countdown 2018: 4th December

19 Leeds (1)

Day 4 – Ground no. 21: Elland Road, Leeds United

An old school ground with three of the stands very traditional 1950’ish to 1970’ish, dramatically upset by the huge cantilevered East Stand from the early 1990’ies. Almost brutal. It somehow reflects how Leeds were suddenly stopped in their tracks by overspending. On a freezingly cold January day, the contrasts between the stands, the Old Peacock pub across the road, the defiant Billy Bremner statue, and the fans wearing only t-shirts summed up what English football is about.

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21. Elland Road, Leeds United

22. The County Ground, Swindon Town

23. St. Andrew’s, Birmingham City

24. St. James’ Park, Exeter City

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