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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Top 24 English Football Grounds Advent Countdown 2018: 3th December

20 Swindon (1)

Day 3 – Ground no. 22: The County Ground, Swindon Town

A proper old school ground! The County Ground pub right in front of the ground is a must! The four stands are oh so different, adding character to the ground. The floodlight pylon going up through the roof of The Town End is brillant. With a cricket ground to one side and terraced streets to the others, it is very much a community stadium. And then there is the magic roundabout – formed by five small ones! Surreal! So surreal that my camera broke down and I failed to capture the magic of a floodlit match there.

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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: 2nd December

21 Birmingham (1)

Day 2 – Ground no. 23: St. Andrew’s, Birmingham City

It nestles on a hill top above the terraced streets, almost like a medieval castle – just a short walk from the city centre. Bathed in floodlights at night, the effect is stunning.

The two-tiered main stand with its pillars is a proper old school stand, yet the single-tiered L-shaped Kop and Tilton Road stands from the 1990’s match it impressively well. The concourse is not the usual modern parking house concrete, it is warm, open, spacious with good views of the pitch. No wonder, the atmosphere is good.

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23. St. Andrew’s, Birmingham City

24. St. James’ Park, Exeter City

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Top 24 English Football Ground Advent Countdown 2018: 1st December

25 Exeter (3) - Kopi

Day 1 – Ground no. 24: St. James’ Park, Exeter City

Sadly, the old Stagecoach stand has been replaced by a modern stand this year. I loved it. It looked like a robber’s castle, irregularly shaped, only covering two thirds of the field. At least the new one has the same size. I hope a little of the magic is preserved. Still, there is the impressive standing terrace, the strange integration of the neighbouring school building for office, hospitality and community facilities. And the houses opposite St. James’ Street overlooking the pitch-

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24. St. James’ Park, Exeter City

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Top 24 English Football Grounds Advent Calendar 2018

From Saturday 1st December, I will start my countdown of my top 24 current English football grounds. Six photos, six lines of text.

Grounds like Highbury, Boleyn Ground, White Hart Lane won’t feature, as they have been demolished. Old Trafford won’t feature either, as I could be accused of being biased as a Manchester United fan.

But here it is as a sample – or a preview of the concept.

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Day 0 – ground no. ? – Old Trafford, Manchester United

The sheer size of the current Old Trafford is impressive. And it glows magicly in the floodlights for evening kick-offs. Yet, I must admit, I prefer the old one. With standing terraces and the factory/fortress like look.

Maybe that is why, it is the walk up Warwick Road – or Sir Matt Busby Way, the Red Legends Souvenir shop, Lou Macari’s Fish ‘n chips and the streets behind the stadium that really makes me feel at home, when I go.

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Top 24 English Football Ground Advent Calendar coming up!

09 Peterborough (1)

From 1st December, I will run down my top 24 of current English football grounds as an advent calendar for all fans of English football and football grounds. And especially those who like to argue, which ground is the best!

Each ground will be presented in six photos and six lines of text. Find out if you agree with my listing by following the blog – or clicking in every day! And feel free to comment!

It is only Christmas once a year!

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