The Story

The story of our quest is as follows.

Day 4 - South Wales and Midlands

Tuesday 16th August 2005

We all thought it couldn't get any worse than the day before, but we knew that we had to visit 18 or 19 stadiums today. So, after just under 3 hours sleep, we got ready and hit the road again. First stop, about 100 yards from the car park. Not officially one of the 92, but since we were in the neighbourhood, we visited the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. This stadium holds bitter memories for Norwich fans... why wasn't it golden goal?!!

 

Next up, Ninian Park - the home of Cardiff City.

On a day when we were supposed to be heading East, we had to go West to Swansea City's new stadium, cunningly named, "The New Stadium". Obviously that might have changed since we visited. It's a good stadium though, and certainly worthy of holding some international matches.

Just after crossing back over the Severn Bridge into England, we had a scary moment where the tyre of a lorry in front exploded, throwing shards of rubber all over the road and the car. We managed to avoid any damage; unfortunately the driver of the car in front of us couldn't say the same, as he was forced off the road. Two and a half hours after leaving Swansea, we finally arrived in Swindon.

We just about found our way to the County Ground, but whoever designed the "Magic Roundabout" system of 5 interlinked mini-roundabouts in Swindon, must have been on something. It definitely wins the award for "Most likely to prang your car".

Another hour later and we were at Whaddon Road, Cheltenham. Word of advice, if you're visiting this ground make sure you know where you're going. We thought we did but we ended up in the town centre swearing at everyone within 2 miles.

Next up was a 90-minute drive to Oxford, where we encountered more bad drivers than I have ever seen anywhere - even Italy! The Kassam Stadium is pretty impressive though, even though it does only have 3 sides!

It was 4.10pm by the time we got to Luton, and we'd only got to our 6th official ground for the day. Not going well! In and out of here as quick as possible.

Straight up the M1 to fight our way through the roundabouts of Milton Keynes. If you're visiting the MK Dons, the National Hockey Stadium is left off the motorway, then straight over at the first 8 roundabouts, then right at the 9th. Honestly.

50 minutes later, at 5.40 pm, we're at Nene Park, home of Rushden and Diamonds.

Arriving at Northampton Town's Sixfields Stadium only 40 minutes later, our mood was picking up, as we'd reached the half-way point for the day.

A quick meal then over to visit Coventry City's unfinished Ricoh Arena. They actually played at this ground just 4 days later, which is hard to believe as it was a bit of a mess when were there!

Next up was Leicester City's Walkers Stadium, arriving at 8.20pm.

We were beginning to rack up the grounds in quick succession now, so whilst we were on a roll we headed on to Nottingham, where we would add another 2 to our total, albeit in the dark.

Notts County's Meadow Lane, with night-mode on the camera - hence the blurriness!

A lovely gate at the City Ground, Nottingham Forest, 9.40pm.

At this point we decided to postpone Mansfield until the final day, so we had another 5 to go today, and headed on to Derby County's Pride Park, which thankfully had some lights on!

By the time we got to Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux stadium, it was 12.10am and were all half-asleep. Still, some fairly decent pictures, given the hour!

And of course, Billy Wright's statue:

We then hit the road again for what should have been a very short trip to Walsall's Bescot Stadium. We got to Walsall easily enough, only to find that all approach roads to the stadium itself were closed for resurfacing.

If we weren't going to let a broken car stop us, we certainly weren't going to let some sticky tarmac stop us. After trying 4 or 5 different options, we just carried on through. Apologies to the local council, but it looked like someone else had done the same thing already! We got to the stadium at 1am.

Three grounds left to do today, but we decided that if we found our hotel in Birmingham first, then we'd go straight there. As it happens, both Aston Villa and Birmingham City were on the way, but we left West Brom til the day after.

Villa Park at 1.26am.

Some more gates! This time at St Andrew's Stadium at 1.49am. We are there, honestly!

Arriving at our hotel at 2.15am, 24 hours after arriving in Cardiff, we'd knocked another18 grounds off our list. At most we knew we'd be getting 3 hours sleep (it turned out to be much less!) and we had another 22 grounds to do the next day.

Mileage for the day: 605