Football

What is the best English ground to visit?

Is Anfield one of the best grounds for an away supporter to visit? (©GettyImages)
Is Anfield one of the best grounds for an away supporter to visit? (©GettyImages).

Old Trafford, Emirates Stadium or Stamford Bridge? Oakwell, Vale Park or Gay Meadow?

What is your favourite ground of the 92 currently in the top four divisions?

This discussion could go on for ever and ever but I would be interested to know what grounds football supporters like to visit away from home and what makes a certain ground their favourite.

We all have our own personal favourites and all have a variety of reasons for choosing those we love. Personally, I like those grounds that have a sense of history to them. In the Premier League my personal favourites would be Goodison Park, White Hart Lane, Anfield, Villa Park and Old Trafford.

These old famous grounds have seen a lot of football played and have witnessed many great
players and managers over the year. Yes, they have also been redeveloped to some extent but they still retain the history that must never be forgotten.

New grounds, for all their modernisation, cannot rekindle the sense of history that their old grounds had. Take Derby County, for instance. Personally, I enjoy visiting their new stadium but the old Baseball Ground had some unique features that just simply cannot be replaced.

Derby had to move on for the sake of the club and its future, and I accept that, but it is also a shame. Arsenal were in a similar situation. They had to move to be able to compete for Premier League titles but the history that Highbury possessed has now gone forever.

Manchester City, Brighton, Rotherham United and Leicester have all relocated out of necessity and boast impressive new stadia fitting of the 21st Century. These new grounds will eventually have a rich history but this will be a long time in the making over a number of years.

Size, to me, does not matter. For me, it is all about the atmosphere created in a ground. Old Trafford is the biggest ground in the country but it certainly doesn’t generate the best atmosphere.

I personally enjoy a trip to the Midlands to clubs such as West Brom and Wolves where the atmosphere always seems to be good. Who can forget the north east, with its fanatical supporters at Newcastle and Sunderland.

Then, of course, there is Liverpool with their heartfelt renditions of You'll Never Walk Alone, which is worth the visit on its own.

Stoke City's Brittania Stadium is a great ground to visit especially when their version of Delilah echoes around the ground.

A half empty ground where you never feel close to the pitch or the opposition supporters does not appeal to me. The atmosphere gets lost and is difficult to re-create. Clubs tend to build grounds that they know they can fill to capacity these days.

Some supporters particularly like visiting certain grounds because of past results, and don’t like certain grounds because of past results - and who can blame them?

Others choose grounds because of the social aspect. If you can have a good pint and a pie then it is a good ground that you don’t mind going to again. Sometimes the match itself can be the worst part of the day and very often spoils what is a good day out.

Nobody likes to visit clubs where the atmosphere is deemed as intimidating. Thankfully grounds like this are rare and could be more to do with the occasion than the ground itself. Certain clubs, which I wont mention, have a reputation which puts visiting supporters off but that’s not to say they don’t have a good ground to visit.

Some grounds are personal favourites because of the hospitality of the home supporters. I remember one visit to Walsall where we were treated very well by the home supporters in their own pub.

Memories like that are here to stay and make me want to return. Or we may select a ground because of the ease of access, whether they have large car parks or are easily accessible via motorways or public transport. These small things matter to football supporters.

Football supporters tend not to grumble about the weather as they have to contend with all elements in order to follow their team but visiting two grounds - Oldham's Boundary Park and Huddersfield's John Smith's Stadium - always brings back memories of freezing conditions and a biting wind, no matter what time of year I have visited.

Perhaps the results at these grounds have also not helped my recollection.

I won't be able to come up with an answer to suit everyone because we all have an
opinion and reasons behind those opinions.

So, what makes a ground your own personal favourite?


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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Championship
League Two
League One

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