Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fans Unite to Help Dons with Their Homework

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fans Unite to Help Dons with Their Homework

Article excerpt


DESPITE what the film version of Fever Pitch portrayed, the streets around football grounds are not normally the venues for joyous parties full of lovely luvvies. At least once a fortnight they are full of police horses and fans (and the detritus which both leave in large amounts).

So there has to be considerable sympathy with the residents of the posh enclave of houses near the Thames who are fighting Fulham's plans to rebuild Craven Cottage, and for those people who will have to move their businesses out of Ashburton Grove to make way for Arsenal's new stadium.

I would not want a football ground in my own backyard and, in an ideal world, football grounds would be built outside cities and serviced by motorways (like, for instance, Reading's Madejski stadium).

But we're not in an ideal world. We're in London.

Yet, despite all the problems the capital presents to planners and builders, London's football landscape has been transformed in a little less than 10 years.

In 1992, Charlton moved back to The Valley after years of nomadic exile. The paint was still drying when they kicked off their first match, but a derelict old ground had been revamped into a neat, modern stadium. A new tier is now being added to the North Stand.

In 1993, Millwall took the bold and risky move of opening a brand-new, purpose-built-stadium. Nobody had done that since the war but Millwall's radical departure from the safe policy of patching up old grounds was eventually copied by many clubs outside London.

Elsewhere, Chelsea's West Stand is quite simply the best I've ever been in, Tottenham have changed White Hart Lane beyond recognition and West Ham (despite their fondness for what looks suspiciously like stone-cladding) are making the old Boleyn Ground fit for this 21st century.

Fulham, whose ground used to be owned by the Church Commissioners, and who, for years, were too busy striving to stay in business to worry about their ramshackle ground, have fabulous plans and Arsenal were this week given council permission to build what will look more like the USSS Enterprise than a traditional football ground. …

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