This week, I visited a football ground I last visited in the 1989/1990 season when I saw Newcastle win there 3-0 on 21st October.
That day in 1989/90 season was a great day out at football with friends. A good drink and good fun.
The ground has changed considerably since then. In 1989/90 it was a crumbling decaying wreck of a ground. I would go as far as to say it was probably unsafe to host professional football. Amazingly, the ground remained in use for another seven years.
The ground today looked like this
However back in 1989.90 it looked more like the following pictures
Despite being a decaying ground, it was unique in that it had seating behind one goal. That was uncommon in the days before all-seater stadia.
Brighton were in free fall in the 1990s and had an owner who transferred the ground into his company and sold it from under the club leaving them homeless. They spent 2 seasons playing many miles away in Gillingham. That would have killed off many other clubs.
The club then played at an athletic stadium for 12 years. The Withdean Stadium was a horrible place to watch football with temporary seating arranged behind each goal – but with a running track between you and the pitch.
The picture below shows how far the fans are from the pitch behind the goal. This picture is taken from the seating.
Watching from these seats is not very engaging and would put me off going week in week out. West Ham take note- the Olympic Stadium will have the same issues. It is not conducive to passionate support or even to encouraging people to go.
I only visited the Withdean Stadium on one occasion. I watched Orient get beaten there from the seating behind the goal. You may therefore think I do not have happy memories of this ground. You’d be wrong though as it was here that I finally completed the 92 football grounds –i.e. having watched a game at every football ground. To complete it I have actually visited well over 100 grounds as several teams have moved and some teams, e.g. Charlton I have seen play home games at three different grounds. Also as clubs come into and go out of the league the 92 grounds is a moving feast.
I will end with a picture of the Goldstone Ground
A sad reminder of a former football ground and a reminder to me to visit Brighton’s new ground this season at Falmer