My own haul of football grounds pales compared to Duncan McKay, and many other ground hoppers. I did, however, visit the 92 league grounds in a 5 year period in the ’90s, much to the delight of Mrs RM. Since you ask, Middlesbrough’s Riverside was the loudest, but City’s trips to crumbling grounds like Oxford and Luton were the most fun.

Of late, I’ve struggled to get tickets for City’s away games.  But that’s OK, after all I’m just a plastic Southern Manc bandwagon-jumper, though I had no trouble getting tickets for the Emirates and Anfield 6 six years ago, pre-Aguero.

Plenty of tickets for our first trip to the London Stadium though, albeit ludicrously overpriced for a reserve team competition;


Before the abuse starts, let me be clear; Hammers fans aren’t plastics.  Like City, their attendances, humour and sense of reality have held up over the years, although the long march back to Stratford Station may start to wear their patience in Winter.

There’s been a lot of discussion about pre-match drinking too.  This article by Stonch sums up frustration with Crate Brewing, which is pretty much the closest bar to the ground that’s not in Westgate. Stonch knows how to run a good pub, and assuming your customers are trouble-makers because they watch football (rather than, say, athletics) isn’t how to do it.  I have enjoyed their beers a lot though.

Fortunately for me, my pre-match pint wasn’t at Crate, it was a pleasant stroll through Hackney Wick to Victoria Park.

If the former Olympic site is still a building site, the Wick is a genuinely fully-formed art space to rival Ancoats or Milton Keynes Margate.  It is pretty wonderful, if you like that sort of thing.  It’s a long way from Plaistow and North Woolwich.

Gentrification as art

If you think that’s scary (it isn’t), then you should get locked in Victoria Park in the dark.  A clear footpath route from Cadogan Terrace to the rear entrance of The People’s Park Tavern came to an abrupt halt.  All gates locked at 5.15, no warning signs, no staff, no light.  So I had to scale the fence, making sure not to damage my Beer Guide in the process of course. It amused some tourists, anyway.

It amused the staff in the People’s Park too, though getting called “Ninja” was a bit much.  I’ll add that to my collection along with “M’Duck“, “Love“,”Darling” and “Brother“.

That would have been the highlight of this characterful Laines pub, but the burger was fantastic and the staff enthusiasm for their beer refreshing.  A reminder of that Laines concept again;


I’m tempted to tell you I set fire to my scarf on the candle the staff set light to while I was admiring the ladies toilets, but you can have too much excitement, even in Homerton.

No other Hammers in the Park (15 minutes from the ground), and no other homebrew cask (or keg) sold in the half hour I was there.  Plenty of 1664 being pulled, and, as it’s Dryanuary and sheeple do what they’re told, bottled water.

I looked in on Queen’s Yard, to find Howling Hops and CRATE Taps both heaving an hour or so before kick-off.  If only Cloudwater and Tickety Brew had Taps this close to the Etihad campus.

I’d have braved the queues, but me and plastic glasses don’t get on, and I was saving myself for the feast of craft beer in the London Stadium.

Secret Amstel bar round the corner

As I said at the start, West Ham fans aren’t plastic, though many of their fans seemed to be dressed as plastic seats by the 89th minute.


City fans came in their thousands, but as they left all they could talk about was this;


Anish Kapoor’s masterpiece now offers a slide, which all great art should do really.  Whatever your views on the former Olympic Stadium, the Orbit really is an Angel for the East End.


  1. Could you not have used your GBG as a step to climb up over the fence? Then pulled it back from without? On a serious note, I feel sorry for the W.Ham supporters. Yes it might be a landmark stadium but no one should have to watch footie from the other side of a running track, it is a terrible experience when you need binoculars to see the goal mouth at the opposite end of the stadium. A bit like watching from the away supporters end at HKR, you can’t even see the nearest touchline clearly. Perhaps with a hard Brexit, this type of, totally inappropriate for watching football, continental european type stadium may get outlawed in the UK sometime soon.


  2. I had the ‘pleasure’ of attending West Ham’s first competitive fixture at their new ground. It was a complete shambles. I entered the away end and found the concourse full of confused looking West Ham fans, with stewards hurriedly trying to escort them into the home end. Given the circumstances, I don’t feel too sorry for them – they got a brand new stadium on the cheap. Lots of clubs would kill for that and be prepared to suffer the inevitable downsides it brings.
    As for the ticket price, spare a thought for mugs like me, who paid £25 to watch our second 11 get stuffed by Millwall in the Cup this week!


  3. Martin, I’d be interested to see which season’s 92 grounds you managed to clear – I am surprised and impressed that it is an achievable feat with Manchester Hunter, I’d have imagined that there would have always been a Macclesfield or Rushden in the fourth division that the club had never played. I suppose cup draws can see to that. I’d always imagined the only way to do it would be a downwards tumble through the leagues – with City I’m hoping we don’t pass Wycombe, Gillingham or Port Vale and that Grimsby go back out of the league.

    I never have understood why the Olympic ground was built where it was, the obvious idea to me would have been to keep West Ham United at the Boleyn Ground, have the Olympics at the Withdean now that Hove Albion have finished with it and keep the railway lands at Stratford as they were. The net cost to the exchequer would have been £0.00.


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