So, yesterday evening we successfully managed a quick stop for photos at Blackburn’s Ewood Park before heading on to Accrington Stanley, the smallest ground of all the 92. We were running behind schedule so decided to jump out and have a very quick photo and then move on swiftly, however the stadium manager popped his head out of the office and invited us in for a pitch side photo! It was great to get pitch side at such a unique ground and we were delighted to be given a match worn Accrington Stanley shirt. The stadium manager also asked if we were going to Luton Town during office hours as Luton had left half their kit their when the two sides met recently. We laughed at what we assumed was a joke, but we were then shortly on our way to Burnley with half of Luton Town’s kit in the boot!! Lower league football at it’s finest!!
Burnley was quite an experience. Then we were on to Bradford. Having learned literally nothing from our trip to Norwich the night before, we arrived at Bradford City 5 minutes before their game kicked off with Leeds United. With again an increase in traffic and nowhere to park, we chanced upon a parking space with a great view of the stadium in the background. After reverend Scuzz finally managed a reverse park, we went to exit the car. Before we could do so, a group of Leeds fans and Bradford fans took a dislike to each other and punches started flying 10yards away from our car!! A police riot van then screeched up next to us, blocking us in, and we sat ‘calmly’ in the car praying the windows remained intact and desperately trying to avoid eye contact with the brawling masses!!! We really couldn’t have timed our arrival any better! Credit to the police, who dispersed the incident swiftly, and we quickly jumped out, took a selfie and got the hell out of there as quickly as we could!! Next stop….. Leeds!
The Bradford / Leads area further impressed us when two young gentleman sped past us on motorbikes, weaved in and out traffic then drove straight over a roundabout (literally) and then were off at speed down a footpath. Nut jobs. What a lovely area, we were gutted to see the back of it… The great experience at Accrington and the fun in Bradford and Leeds had the spirits back up and banter was back in full flow. Huddersfield Town and Rochdale passed without incident and we headed on to Bury about an hour behind schedule. We were welcomed to Gigg Lane by the legend that is Northern Siiii!! Was great to see you mate and it gave us another lift when we were all absolutely shattered!! Cheers for the champers! Enjoying hanging out in Ibiza…!
Just Oldham and the two Manchester clubs to go and then we could have a well earned sleep in an actual bed. Bets called ahead and booked a hotel in Manchester and by this stage we all just wanted to get to the grounds as soon as possible and then get some sleep! The Sat Nav took this opportunity to start going crazy, maybe it needed sleep too?? But we eventually found all the grounds, and we’re delighted to be welcomed so heartily at the countries most successful club, Manchester Utd. Apparently tripods are forbidden
outside ‘the theatre of dreams’ and security quickly told us we weren’t allowed to take photos! Tony negotiated taking one whole photo, with the tripod and everything. We pushed or luck and took too photos and we’re practically chased back to the car and out of the car park! What a lovely club. In stark contrast to the incredible hospitality of some of the lower league and north east premier league clubs, Manchester United were much less accommodating. I guess success doesn’t breed class.
So a bit of a sour note to finish the night on but overall it has been a fantastic, once in a lifetime couple of days. So we headed to the prebooked Ibis Hotel. The sat nav was in full meltdown mode and we drove round the centre of Manchester for what seemed like an hour before we finally found the Ibis hotel. The pedantic condescending gentleman on reception quickly informed us we hadn’t booked with them and, having taken one look at us, assumed we were meant to be at the Ibis Budget Hotel a few miles away!! Unfortunately he was correct, so we paid £3 to get the car back out of the car park and headed to the budget hotel that was more in keeping with our appearance. We soon learned it was called budget for a reason! But it had beds and hot water, so it did the job!