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The Quest for the 92
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sharrowblade
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:28 pm 
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Ground No 78, (Macca 78-Danny 77) West Ham, London Stadium.

It began badly and got worse as the morning went on. It rained, and then rained some more, even the dog was hiding behind the sofa, no walk in the park for Fido, a trip down south beckoned if only I could get two teenagers out of their cesspits.

I went south to Chesterfield and cut across to the M1. This was an error on my part, I wanted to go Worksop and down the A1. Not the M1, I couldn't face sitting outside Luton on a rain sodden saturday morning languishing in the roadworks. I can't face Luton at the best of times.

Nevermind, just cut across via Mansfield, skirt round the northern edge of Nottingham and join the A1 at Newark. That was the theory but we were still labouring around the Nottinghamshire countryside due to floods and road closures at 10:30.

Finally, the site of Newark's giant sugar beet factory came into view, an achievement in itself given the smog it was generating.

The constant biblical downpour, the considerable distractions from the back of the Reliant, 'when's breakfast Dad?', 'Can u charge my phone up' 'who's eaten all the tangytastics' and so it continued.

Arrived in Epping at just gone 1, London's largest underground tube station car park, but obviously not large enough, no room at the Inn as it were, parked around the corner, just a five minute walk back, the rain continued.

Its the usual ecleptic bunch of Londoners on the tube. West Ham Fans, Orient fans, jewellery selling hippies, catwalk glamour model, several Kim Jong-Uns doppelgangers, a big momma with a 20 pc bargain bucket and a young girl dressed as an extra from the Wicker man. Viva Exstinction Rebellion.

Stratford central, out through the shopping centre, Dan's thrown caution to the wind, and kicks off outside the Cow PH, he's jumping up and down on a Carlos Tevez mask, rest assured there wasn't an 8 year wearing it at the time.

Around to the Arcelor Mittal Orbit we go. I jest about the monstrous beast of rustic architecture. Its a expensive looking giant helter skelter, I confess my ignorance, it wasn't until we got home that it does indeed turn out to be just that.



Theres a ring of steel around the stadium, but little indication of where away fans are supposed to go, so we joined thousands in a queue to get through the metal scanners, I've got my hands full, its not easy carrying 6 programmes, a folder, and two errant teenagers who insist on shouting to each other in broad northern accents surronded by Hammers. The scanner detected something metallic in the downstairs region I explain its my car keys, and I'm waved through,its surprisingly easy to get a Glock into the ground. Im now accosted by the police Cocker Spaniel again......Rover leaves me alone...so we're good to go. Team-sheets will have to wait....I've no idea where the Media, or Main reception is. The outside is devoid of any discernible features, but a painstakingly bad claret and white mural. With 20 minutes to go we're in, a large bar, a nacho stand, its all very spacious, exchange pleasantries with a lot of familiar faces.



Lets get in a sample the atmosphere says Macca, The thought was there but in reality there wasn't any. The away end is split, we're on the lower tier, and we're down near the front, our upper tier is roughly about 250 yards behind us. At his point both sets of supporters are suggesting that the other sides supporters have very singular sex lives.

There's one lad in particular, he's a ginger Herman Munster, he can't help himself, he's dancing in the isles, waving excitingly, he's inviting anyone he can find to come over to the home section and have a hug, he's filming it on his phone. I'm scared' declares Dan, Why says I, 'Halloween has come early', says he



West Ham start well, but United have the best two chances of the first half, we knew we were close, but not sure how close, the net at the far end wasn't even in the same postcode, the lads in the upper tier have got the binoculars out. Then, its bedlam, Snodgrass strikes, West Ham lead, there's handbags in the upper tier. Herman's besides himself, he's worked himself into a frenzy, he's cutting shapes that won him third prize in the Upton Ugly Society Club Disco competition 15 years ago. I was genuinely worried I thought he was having a stroke..... or he'd been tasered.

Went walkabout at half time, and received two long distance phone calls .....................from mates in the upper tier.

United have clearly had a Wilder rollicking , they are on the front foot after the break, the pub team are asking questions but missing chances until the Mousse finds the corner. With 20 minutes to go. There's more handbags in the Upper tier, and down below Herman's gone missing. Shame that.


No...........the Blades have scored

West Ham are the better team towards the end, and it ends all square.

Once you're out, you're out they won't let you back in, so the team-sheets will have to wait another day. I shelved the original plan to buy a football, walk over to the other side of Victoria Park for a pint and a kick-about before returning to Stratford. It was still weeing it down, so I come up with an alternative plan, hit the shopping centre, find somewhere to eat and drink. Great, just one problem with that. They shut it off, so were diverted back to the station with thousands of others.

Finally return to Epping at just gone six, skipped back to the van in the pouring rain, Drenched is an under statement. No heart or desire to find a local watering hole. Head home, but have sat nav upside down so actually head south before North. Surprised Shocked

It had been one of them days, Maccas nodded off, Dan's on his phone, and I'm listening to the weekly Frank Lampard Appreciation Society on 606, and Talk Shite.

Arrive home to be greeted with the BBCs new epic saga 'The Frank Lampard Love in'.

In conclusion, without wishing to sound biased, negative, stereotyped or contrite. Its not Upton Park is it.

Its not built for football, its featureless and a little soulless and the weather was miserable.

Tickets: £80 (1 x £30) (2 x £25)
Programme: £3.50

Next Stop: Spurs
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 7:41 pm 
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Ground Number 79, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (Macca 79, Dan 7Cool

Depart 9:30. The weather looked about as appetizing as a Ray Adler Lecture on early Newton Heath autographs. Approaching Nottingham the Trent has expanded sideways four times, the horizon had long since disappeared, there's ducks on the hard shoulder, there's an unconfirmed report of a woman driver in the fast lane and Dan's substituted Johnny Cash for Oasis on the musical playlist.

There's been an accident near Watford Gap with anticipated delays of over an hour, My God, that's normally reserved for downtrodden metropolis such as Luton. No matter detour at Loughborough, around Leicester and over to Peterborough. An extremely hazardous journey sabotaged by groups of depraved persons, who revel in misery, they clamour in groups with their sordid whispers, occasionally the ring leader points and then they return to being motionless, staring into the abyss of a hole at the roadside. For these are the scourge of travellers....workmen,.... oh the irony.
A sarcastic round of applause as we circumnavigate them on the outskirts of Leicester. Over to Peterborough and down the A1M.

The M25 no better, so I take a devil may care attitude and put Plan C into action, the lads are curious...what was plan B dad? Naturally I had no idea by now I was winging it. Through places I had never heard off such as Totteringham and Whetstone. It turned out to be a masterstroke, the reliant reached 25mph at one point, windows down with the damp in our hair and the smell of kebabs in the air. At Palmers Green, the traffic lights were being patrolled by a old Syrian refugee, who was approaching cars shaking a tea cup for spare change. I confess I felt sorrow to what I was witnessing, but if he wasn't offering to clean my windscreen, its sayonara my good man.

Arrived at 1 at Haringey Borough FC, to be met by forum member Botanybaykid (Adrian). An absolute gentleman, he provided us with free parking, programme, and a little bit about the club whilst policing the turnstiles. They had their own game in the FA Trophy that afternoon.
In the bar, there's a couple of Canvey Island supporters 'Alright guvnor, you come down to watch the Spurs'. Good lads they were, one supported Manchester United and the other one Liverpool.



Left the Club at two for the 20 minute walk down White hart Lane. Not the most aesthetically pleasing ground from the outside on the approach on a miserable autumn afternoon, Macca 'Its a spaceship', Dan 'It's a toilet seat'. Bit harsh, I thought.
Over to a programme seller,
'Three programmes mate', say I
'Put your card into the machine sir' says him
'What's wrong with cash' say I
'They don't trust me mate' say him
They had a point, he was listening to Stormzy on his beats.
Over to the media office
'any chance of a couple of team sheets mate'
'Move along, nothing to see here, we don't have any here, never get any' from a man clearly embracing his position of power.
The lads are window licking the office windows' He's lying dad they're on his desk'
'I know boys but sometimes you've just got to hold your hands up and admit that its not going to happen and that some people are .....er...you know....are like...diplomatic words were failing me
'You mean a twat' the lads were in unison. This was met by a sharp rebuke and a frown of dismay and then a nod that secretly I agreed.

It was the hottest ticket in town and the biggest, how do these people expect us to travel down and back to Sheffield and keep these bad boys nice and flat.

The tickets were bigger than the team sheet.

Through security at 2:30pm, no problem at all, and into the concourse, its lively, the feral lunatics had taken over the asylum.
Spacious there wasn't enough space to swing a ferret around. Its a struggle to find a portal to the inner sanctum but eventually we make it.



The slight disappointment about the outer, now gives way to appreciative nods of respect with regards to the inside. The South Stand which we are facing is particular impressive, wall like, with a perceived steepness on the grandest scale. Topped off with a golden cock at the top. Pitch close, Safe standing seats, plenty of leg room. good sight lines, It was top notch. Job well done.



We start well, and after 12 minutes Harry Kane finally touches the ball. 'You're just a s*** Billy Sharp', .Ah the eloquent beauty of the terrace poets. There's plenty to admire from United's passing and organization, and to Dier, masquerading as an international and to Dele, (apparently he's dropped the Ali') who was giving an acting masterclass, a true exponent of face planting when he feels an opponent breathing on him. Its a wonderful gift. United squander their opportunities, Spurs get lucky and Son, the one player that worried us, delivered on that angst. United respond instantly when Didzy pounces it was no more than we deserved. Absolute scenes... celebrations are cut short and put on hold while there's a check with the Var. It didn't take long, just under 4 minutes to decipher that Lunny wears clown boots, he's a big toe offside.
Total Bollocks of course, The sense of injustice fuels United and they finally equalize, and here comes the Var again, sheer torture. It stands, but it does takeaway from the euphoria somewhat.
Out into the night, with a sense of disappointment with regards to the result. There's tales of trouble here and there. There's certainly no quarter being given at the entrance to Sainsburys at the corner of Worcester Avenue. Horns are being honked, abuse is shouted, there's some argy-bargy, but honestly, who decides to go shopping at 5pm on match day. Madness.

Back along the sodden streets to Haringey Borough. Adrian's running the kids club, the boys are happy watching the football. I have one for the road, with a couple of Haringey fans and Adrian provides a couple of badges for the lads. Many thanks for the hospitality.
Head home, but make huge error in judgement by hitting the A10, where rules of the road are being blissfully ignored, vehicles cut in and out without a second thought.
Dan's not impressed , and asks 'what's the difference between ignorance and indifference'
'I don't know and I don't care' and with that I mounted the pavement and careered off towards Barnet.

Back Home at 10:30.
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Jim LFC



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2019 8:23 pm 
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Another excellent post, thanks for sharing! Thumbs Up
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Dorking



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 2:08 pm 
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There are two concourses for the away end at Spurs (think I mentioned this a while back) - the second one up the stairs is usually near deserted and yet is probably the bigger of the two. Huge sausage rolls for £2, toilets all to yourself, and a panoramic view of the neighbouring houses through the large windows
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sharrowblade
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 4:30 pm 
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You know what Dorking...I remembered that.....but only after the game Sad
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:15 pm 
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Ground No 80, The Emirates, Arsenal

Departed 9:15. The self professed wise one (Dan) was riding shotgun, whilst Macca returned to sleep in the back. Strange yellow bright thing in the Sky, not seen for a couple of months, made driving unpleasant at times but with no hold ups, made Cockfosters just before midday. As usual no room at the Inn in the car park, so we headed over to the Church opposite and circumnavigated the endless residents only avenues before pulling into The Cock Inn, Car Park. Thirsty work all this finding a car parking space.

Two Pints of Hophouse later, in good relaxed company, the bar staff allowed us to leave the Reliant in the car park, before wishing us all the best. Must have all been Spurs fans. Meltdown at the station, as Macca had left his Oyster Card behind and I'd inadvertingly pressed two adult tickets for the gruesome twosome in all this upheaval. Great.

Half an hour ride to Arsenal, out into the hustle and bustle, stalls galore, half and half scarves, oh such decadence, grown adults sporting ill fitting horrible retro away kits from the early 90s you know the one, the battered banana or something, I thought I was having some kind of translucent episode brought on by two pints of lager and some tangytastics.

Up onto the bridge, there's a ring of people gathered around a man holding a microphone stood in front of a cameraman He's asking the wall to move back 10 yards. . Its Tony Adams, He was always asking for the same thing when he was in prison.

There's a gallery of players portraits adorning the flagpoles that circumnavigate the ground
'Who are these people' I enquired,
Dan had that expression of incredulity etched across his face
The boys pointed out that it was the current Arsenal squad, and that I must be some kind of thicko'.
In my defence, I plead innocence....I don't play Fifa'.


Dan clearly wanted to be somewhere else....anywhere else

Programmes acquired, Ozil adorns the front which is emblazoned with the slogan, 'As a playmaker I need Space'. No need for a scouting report. There's a relaxed atmosphere outside the ground, well in truth there's hardly anyone about. Even the police dog has gone AWOL and suddenly we are in, seats are good, but somewhat stodgy, by that I mean if you sit on them, you automatically slide forward. We're on the second back row, which is good, we've got television monitors just above us which replay the action, that's nice of them, although I believe they were there for the disabled who were sat behind us.

And away we go, its only a couple of minutes before an Arsenal player goes down like he's been the victim of the gunman on the grassy knoll, and the old favourite 'same old Arsenal, always cheating', gets its first airing of the afternoon. 20 minutes gone and United are doing the pressing 'You've only come to see United, come to see United', filters the crisp Emirates air. Clearly, this was a fabricated fallacy, if the empty seats was a guideline. The atmosphere was non existent to the point that I didn't realize they'd scored on the stroke of half time, even the flag bearers those poor individuals who have to hoist those huge monstrosities couldn't muster the enthusiasm to lift them.

Half time, brought some relief and merriment, Leeds were falling apart....again, and the world's most massive club were losing 3-0 at home to a small bus stop near Burnley. We're still not at the races as the second half unfolds, but the away fans have raised the noise levels, Wilder goes attacking, they sit back, and we deservedly score. All done all square.

Fastest exit this season by far. Had to, needed to raid the media office for the team-sheets, much obliged to the lad on the door for fetching us a couple. Top man.

The approach to the ube was however fraught with danger. There were literally hundreds abreast, across the road as we shuffled around to Finsbury Park, we preyed to the gods that no police horse had passed this way. Then,... drama at the rear, as a young lady attempts to drive through the masses in her Fiat. Thankfully, she wasn't shouting 'Ali Akbar' at the time. Just saying.

The tube station at Finsbury doesn't look any better than the debacle at Arsenal station, so we go for something to eat and allow the crowds to dwindle. It worked, no problem on the way back to Cockfosters. 606 on the way back followed by talk-shite. Catch Arteta's deluded ramblings that Arsenal played well, we deserved three points'.

Dan says 'he's feeling the pressure, don't trust him he's got dangerous eyebrows'. Can't argue with that.
Tufty is in total stark contrast 'Played well first 15, played well last 15, didn't enjoy the bit in the middle, we were really poor at times today'.


Dem Blades.....but they're just a pub team

Good end to a good day, I quite liked the ground and surroundings, Finsbury Park was quite lively.

Conversations on the return leg included topics ranging from the ridiculous 'East German women on drugs '
to the serious 'just how good a goalkeeper is Gunnersauras',
to the more relevant, How scary is Mansfield?.
Arrive back 10:30pm.
Tickets: £46 (£1 x £26) (2 x £10)
Tube: Something ridiculous
Beer: Need I say more.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 2:12 pm 
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Ground No 81, Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace.

After days of painstaking preparation, and seeking advice from the Forums Palace contingent as to where to park near Selhurst, the tube in would be the preferred option. Met up with the Neighbours (Brad and Freddie) and (Spud and Chaz) at Cockfosters at the surprisingly named ‘Cock Inn’. Spud gave the tickets to Brad with the immortal words ‘look after them’. It was a dangerous move.
‘Seriously,??? He’ll lose them, he’s got previous’. I exclaimed.
Oh how we laughed. I kept ours, no need for them to get creased.
Good couple of Pints and then onto Cockfosters FC for a quick kick-about and then hit the station. Despite living in a modern civilized world and regarding myself still to be ‘down with the kids’ when it comes to street credibility I Still haven’t worked out those bloody maps with loads of coloured lines and tiny writing and worse of all, them bloody Oyster Cards.

Arrived St Pancras around 1, and linked up to Kings Cross. All aboard the train to Norwood Junction, when the first signs of all was not well. Brad was standing, searching and slapping every pocket he had, what’s he up to lads, I said to Macca and Danny.
‘He’s doing the Macarena’ lamented Dan.
Spud wore the expression of a silent psychotic madman and Freddie was showing natural sympathy and understanding towards his father, he turned his back and went running down the carriage muttering something that sounded like ‘Clucking idiot’.

The tickets were gone, cast aside with a tomato salad sandwich wrapper at King Cross. Oh the irony as Brad was being labelled ‘a tosser’.

The tension was palpable, akin to being on the back seats of a Ryan Air 737 next to the toilets on a flight back from Benidorm. We left the intrepid quartet as they headed out of the doors at Norwood. Met an old mate outside some pub, Dazzler, a smashing lad but some village up north was clearly missing its idiot. 10 minute walk to the ground.

Locate reception, girls fantastic with regards to team sheets. Ignored the four beggars outside ticket office who had lost tickets. (never seen them before in my life). The away end is shambolic. Thankfully, there isn’t a contagious virus reaping havoc around the world.

Our neighbours have managed to get in, but have to ask four Bosnian cleaners to move.


Despite the sunshine, it was a bit fresh down at pitchside

We’re on the second row at the front, waiting to experience Palace’s much vaunted and legendary cauldron of noise. We kept on waiting…and waiting, and then gave up. There was more noise at the average funeral. Has Roy bored them into submission?
Loudhailers, drums… it’s a hanging offence up North.

With regards to the game, there’s not a great deal in it, Palace have a plan, give it to Zaha, and off you go. Pass it to Benteke so he can miss. I felt sorry for Billy No Mates on the other wing. On the hour, Guetia under severe pressure from the invisible man carries the ball over his line. I like that goal line technology, it never fails does it. Sad


Not impressed with the floodlights

And that was that, a 1-0 win, which almost assured survival, 6 trips to the capital this season and no defeats, not bad for the pub team. Back at Norwood, Macca’s filling me in on something called Corona,.... I admit I thought it was a lightweight beer, He reassures me that you can’t catch up unless you're in the presence for fifteen minutes of someone who has. It was all a little too distanced for me until a Chinese lad wearing a mask gets on at Kings Cross. Time began to ebb slowly and 10 minutes later I’m beginning to feel a little feverish, panic had set in and so at Finsbury Park, I helped him out of the train with a firm push and a cheery ‘mind the gap’. Good day out, good result.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:40 pm 
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Well after all the comings and goings this season, we've lost Bury and Stevenage and now have to add Barrow and Harrogate and Brentford's new one.

Back to 78.....14 to go (can't see many being added next season) Sad
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colchestersid



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 5:05 pm 
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Always a pleasure to read, for some reason I hadn't spotted your trip to the London Stadium. One of my old England mates is a blade (Stephen Holmes), he doesn't miss many games

After 41 years at the Boleyn (25 with a season ticket) you won't be surprised to learn I've only been to the new place once - and even then I only lasted 45 minutes before I walked out.

One day hopefully someone with the money will come in and see sense and knock it down (or better still move us back to the right part of London). Until then, I'll stick to my programmes and memories.

For myself I got to 92 in about 2006, now slipped back a bit, 78 or so I think, maybe start to claw a few back when lockdown ends..
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Dorking



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 5:19 pm 
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Particularly enjoyable to read about a trip to Selhurst. The away end is bloody awful to be fair, but it's actually a lot better than the home section of the same stand - the miniscule concourse in the away end is actually about double the size of the home one in proportion to the number of fans it serves.

Lets hope we can get to some games next seson, but I'm not particularly optimistic, even if Southampton and West Ham are desperately flooging season tickets
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Pete’s Picture Palace
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2020 5:34 pm 
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colchestersid wrote:
Always a pleasure to read, for some reason I hadn't spotted your trip to the London Stadium. One of my old England mates is a blade (Stephen Holmes), he doesn't miss many games

After 41 years at the Boleyn (25 with a season ticket) you won't be surprised to learn I've only been to the new place once - and even then I only lasted 45 minutes before I walked out.

One day hopefully someone with the money will come in and see sense and knock it down (or better still move us back to the right part of London). Until then, I'll stick to my programmes and memories.

For myself I got to 92 in about 2006, now slipped back a bit, 78 or so I think, maybe start to claw a few back when lockdown ends..


Oi Sid, do you mind, us taxpayers paid for that stadium! Nod
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New Forest



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 6:17 pm 
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colchestersid wrote:
Always a pleasure to read, for some reason I hadn't spotted your trip to the London Stadium. One of my old England mates is a blade (Stephen Holmes), he doesn't miss many games

After 41 years at the Boleyn (25 with a season ticket) you won't be surprised to learn I've only been to the new place once - and even then I only lasted 45 minutes before I walked out.

One day hopefully someone with the money will come in and see sense and knock it down (or better still move us back to the right part of London). Until then, I'll stick to my programmes and memories.


Only 41 years then you don't recall what it was like in the sixties. When the fans changed ends at half time the girls had to walk through the gents toilet to get along the 'chicken-run'. You youngsters don't know when you are well off. I thought Stratford was still in Newham and a lot easier to get to the new stadium than struggling along Green Street.
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tufcprogs



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2020 10:36 pm 
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I am only at 13 I think, though have been to 58 grounds.
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