Inspired by his visit to sports mad Melbourne, Billy continues his list of the best and worst stadia in the World. This week – The Worst:
Wembley, London, England
(What, did you really expect anything else?)
I haven’t yet been to New Wembley, but Old Wembley was rubbish. The biggest crime against football was the running track around the pitch meaning you were miles from the action. Coupled with cheap seats attached to low-angle terracing, and numerous columns holding up the roof, it meant the viewing was terrible from pretty much everywhere.
Public transport to get there was horrible as well, though perhaps my memories were tainted because of my first visit in the late 80s – after the game (which we lost) I was stuck on a broken tube train for an hour with hundreds of cockney wankers, one of whom amused himself greatly by addressing several Scotsmen by the moniker “smoked salmon”. Tw*t.
Stade de France, St Denis, France
A little bit unfair putting this ground down here – as I’ve never been inside – but to me it represents the worst of football. Having allowed my Scotland Travel Club membership to lapse after moving to the USA, when we qualified for the 1998 World Cup I was too far down the list to get a ticket for the opener against Brazil. So an 80,000 seat stadium was 80% full of neutrals with no interest in the game, while a stadium’s worth of passionate Scotland fans, me included, were locked outside. I hope the guests of Macdonalds, Coca-Cola, and other “FIFA Partners” enjoyed their day out. C**ts.
Stadionul Republican, Chisinau, Moldova (pictured)
Again this is more representative than particular, but it really pisses me off that UEFA and FIFA have all sorts of stadium regulations in place but then you visit [insert random Eastern European country here] and you find yourself standing on an uncovered broken concrete terracing in a stadium with toilets that aren’t fit for horses to shit in. I don’t really care about the conditions; I’m old school and frankly I prefer standing to sitting, but if you’re going to pretend to have rules you should make at least a cursory effort to enforce them.
I wasn’t in Macedonia nor the last game in Lithuania but by all accounts those stadia were complete latrines as well.
Boris Paichadze National Stadium, Tbilisi, Georgia
Speaking of random Eastern European countries, the Boris Paichadze is a typical Soviet affair – huge, round, open to the elements, and completely soulless. It’s almost impossible to get any sort of Tartan Army party going at these types of venue (Kiev’s Olympic Sports Complex is another example) because noise just dissipates into the air – the accoustics just aren’t there. Sydney Opera House this ain’t, and the obligatory running tracks don’t help. Perhaps if I’d seen the Boris at its finest, holding 110,000 reluctanct communists watching Dinamo Tbilisi at their peak, I’d have a different opinion. But I didn’t, so I don’t.
Ajax Arena, Amsterdam, Holland
Because we always get gubbed and football stadia shouldn’t have roofs.
Georgia v Scotland in the Boris Paichadze National Stadium
Photo Credit: Stadionul Republican at Panoramio