Saturday, 31 January 2009

Skonto Stadions

The pitch at Skonto Stadions, arctic home of ex-champs Skonto Riga and the Latvian national team. So that's why there's no winter football in the Baltics.

The ground's just outside central Riga, was built nine years ago, has three permanent stands and holds just under ten thousand spectators - more than enough for the kind of crowds domestic football currently attracts.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

St James' Park Gallery

On the pitch at last. The Gallowgate End, where I first watched football and had my last season ticket.

In the changing rooms. Every team has a weak link - ours more than most.

The view from the East Stand posh seats. Newcastle United versus Coventry City, FA Cup, 2005.

My last visit to St James', a two-all draw with Derby County in the dying days of Fat Sam. The skyline was infinitely more entertaining than the pitch. For all his attempts at revisionism, watching Newcastle under Allardyce was more punishment than pleasure.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Places I Have Been: Liberec

The choice was much easier when I lived in the Czech Republic. My flat was in Liberec, my job was in Liberec, even my school was called Liberec. It didn't take long to get the hint. Fortunately, Slovan Liberec were even quite good, just not so much while I was there.

My first game was a two-nil win against Sparta Prague. "Don't start thinking it's like this every week," the bloke next to me warned.

It wasn't.

Football in Latvia

I live in Latvia, a country where the football season runs from early April to October. Marooned without a game, I've been concentrating on the tricky matter of which local team to support. Obviously, and despite their recent crap form, Skonto are out. Ventspils is too far away, Jurmala too posh. Which leaves a straight choice between the two other Riga clubs, Olymps (who play in red) and FK (who don't).

In the meantime I'm making do with ice hockey.