FULHAM (Craven Cottage)

Sunday 24th May 2009
FA Premier League
Fulham 0-2 Everton
Attendance: 25,497

The final league game of the campaign took the us to one of my favourite top flight grounds, Craven Cottage. The ground has everything going for it from the old stands, to the cottage in the corner, to its location on the banks of the River Thames.

If it wasn't for these factors then, from a results perspective, it would be an awful ground as Everton's record at the Cottage is appalling, having failed to win there since The Cottagers returned to the top flight. Indeed, since these fixtures were resumed in 2001 every meeting has resulted in a home win.

Today that sequence was finally broken as a Leon Osman brace secured the points for the blues. His first goal came on 43 minutes when he rounded Mark Schwarzer to slot home and his second was a superb curling shot from the edge of the box on 88 minutes.

This ensured a top five finish for Everton and sets us up nicely for the cup final at Wembley next weekend.

The Eight Bells pub. The massed ranks of Evertonians drink in the sunshine.

Outside the ground

Fulham's most famous son, Johnny Haynes.

There is always some **** blocking your view of the game!

A "Craven" Cottage pie. See what they done there?

Timmy and Ossie discuss tactics. Probably.

The River Thames

Steven Pienaar and some pillock.

Sign here please, peanuts!

QUEEN'S PARK (Hampden Park)

So my season of groundhopping ends where it began back in August, in 'bonnie' Scotland, thanks in no part to the 'great' British weather. Queen's Park's game at Stirling Albion was postponed last Saturday which meant they had to hastily re-arrange it for Monday, which had the knock-on effect of putting both legs of the play off semi-final back 24 hours from Wednesday and Saturday to Thursday and Sunday. What a stroke of luck, for me anyhow!

'The Spiders' play their home games at Hampden Park, Scotland's national stadium, which has a capacity of 52,000. Today attendance was 854! It is one of those iconic grounds that has to be visited and what better way to appreciate the ground in all its glory than when its empty. I have to admit though, the acoustics were brilliant and there sounded a lot more than 854 inside the stadium and it did leave me to wonder what the atmosphere would be like with 52,000 Scots baying for blood!

Queen's Park were playing Stenhousemuir for the right to play in Division Two next season. Queen's Park finished the regular season second from bottom of Div 2 whilst Stenhousemuir finished 4th in Div 3. The bottom line today was simple for the home side...lose today and they were relegated. The game was evenly poised from the first leg, with Stenhousemuir having a slender 2-1 advantage. It was all to play for.

If only! I bore witness to 90 goalless minutes of pure unadulterated shite! Considering the predicament Queen's Park found themselves they offered nothing until the last 20 minutes or so, when it suddenly dawned on them they were going down, by then it was too little to late. Neither 'keeper had a save to make until the second half and neither side looked like breaking the deadlock. Obviously there was no pressure on 'Stenny'and they were happy to see out the game to go through to play Cowdenbeath in the final, 2-1 on aggregate. The Spiders
went down with barely a whimper.

The only crumb of comfort I got from this game is that is bookended my 'hopping season nicely. I started off last August with a crap 0-0 at Queen of the South and I finished it off today with this!

So that concludes my groundhopping adventures for season 2008/09 (I intend to finish off my season next Sunday watching Everton at Craven Cottage). I hope you have all enjoyed reading my diary and hopefully you will be back in August when we can start all over again.

Oh, finally, if anyone has a spare FA Cup Final ticket then could you please give a desperate Evertonian a shout!! Until next season.......


Sunday 17th May 2009
Scottish Football League Division 2
Play off Semi-Final 2nd leg
Queen's Park 0-0 Stenhousemuir
Attendance: 854

THIRD LANARK (Cathkin Park)

Seeing as I was in Glasgow on a Sunday Morning, in readiness for a visit to Hampden Park, I thought I would pay a visit to the previous Hampden Park, which was sold by Queen's Park in 1903 to (the now defunct) Third Lanark, who changed the name to Cathkin Park.

Third Lanark were dissolved in 1967 and parts of the ground demolished but, as you can see from the photo's, the old footprint of the ground remains, as do parts of the old terraces.

It was quite eerie walking around the old ground, but great to imagine what it would've have been like when packed to the rafters.

"Hi! Hi! Hi!"

For further info on the history of Third Lanark, then check out some of these websites...



GRETNA FC 2008 (Raydale Park)

Today was meant to be a visit to Annan to take in their home game versus Dumbarton, but a few weeks ago something happened that was a lot more interesting...Gretna were returning "home" to Raydale Park. This seemed a better proposition as it was a ground I'd missed visiting when they were in the Unibond League and when they were rising through the Scottish Leagues. There was also the fact that this was a game that actually mattered and was no end-of-season dead rubber.

The meteoric rise and fall of Gretna has been well documented http://sport.scotsman.com/gretnafc but the long and short of it is that the original Gretna were liquidated at the end of last season and, from the ashes, a new club was formed. This new club had to start again at the bottom, the bottom being the East of Scotland league division one. Gretna 2008 were accepted into this league at the start of this season but because of issues over ground ownership had to play their "home" games at the Everholm Athletics Ground in Annan.

These issues were resolved just over three weeks ago, following negotiations with all parties concerned, and the club were allowed access to Raydale. It remains to be seen how long this agreement is in place. In just two weeks, volunteers have got the pitch into a playable condition. This was an amazing achievement when you consider that the ground has stood empty since the last competitive game there two seasons ago, as last season in the SPL Gretna had to groundshare at Motherwell because the ground did not meet the SPL minimum requirements.

Gretna 2008's debut season in the East of Scotland league has been a successful one so far as they are in with a shout of promotion. They currently sit fifth in the table on 34 points but with 5 games in hand. The opposition today, Civil Service Strollers from Edinburgh, are currently second on 40 points with three game to play. The leaders are Tynecastle (who Gretna play next week) with 45 points and three games left to play. Today's match is a vital game to both teams in terms of the promotion shake-up, especially for Gretna who really need a win, especially after last weeks anti-climactic 1-1 draw with Gala Fairydean in the "homecoming" game.

The pitch wasn't in the best of nick but, as touched upon, there can't be too much complaining about that as, after two years of neglect, to have it in any sort of playing condition after just a few weeks is remarkable. There was also a huge downpour just before kick off and combined with the strong winds it made the playing conditions rather tricky. In all honesty it was a very poor first half but the home team still managed a 1-0 interval lead, through a Dan Carmichael shot after 16 minutes.

The second half was much better as Gretna, with the wind behind them, took control of the game and simply blew (no pun intended!) the Strollers away. They played some great football and scored four more goals. A Tony Nicholson volley made it 2-0 on 61 minutes, just three minutes later a Curtis Wood free kick from the touchline caught the wind and sailed over the keeper into the top corner. Nicholson scored his second on 77 minutes before a Ross Johnston header in stoppage time made it 5-0 to complete the rout.

Enjoyable day out, despite the weather, and it was great to see the old ground brought back to life. Long may it continue.






Saturday 9th May 2009
East of Scotland League Division One
Gretna 5-0 Civil Service Strollers
Attendance: 235