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» One Touch Football - Archive » Football » 'Groundtastic' and 'Soccer History'

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Author Topic: 'Groundtastic' and 'Soccer History'
Joe Public
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Digging through old stuff in the garage earlier I found a few copies of both these magazines and thought they were okay in a 'World Soccer' kind of way - sometimes interesting for the true devotee but occasionally edging into nerdy territory with the writing very dry and functional.

'Soccer History' did have a good piece on Hibs' pioneering 1955/56 European Cup campaign (easy to forget they reached the semi-final) and a piece on Bill Nicholson which could have put a glass eye to sleep.

Anyone else remember these (in other words, are there any other sad bastards who'll read anything at all to do with football like me)?

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twohundredpercent
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"Groundtastic" is still going - there was a piece about it in WSC a couple of months back, I think. I occasionally have half a mind to buy a copy of it, but I suspect that it might be taking things a bit far.
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imp
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'Groundtastic' is the best magazine of all time, in any field. I put a piece about it on my now expunged US Soccer Players blog a few months back when they had their 50th edition - I was just reading the latest issue the other day and found they'd reproduced an impression of the blog page and some quotes from the column. I know I was being very nice about them, but I felt like I'd been published for the very first time.

Ah, what the hell. Here's the piece:

'Groundtastic' - By Far The Greatest Mag The World Has Ever Seen

Once a month, World Soccer, When Saturday Comes and Soccer America drop on to my door mat. They’re all great magazines in their own way, even if World Soccer has still to respond to the letter I sent them a decade ago when I was living in Zurich, offering to be their Swiss correspondent (a country about which they publish maybe six paragraphs per issue - at the time, that was my idea of a busy schedule). But none of them set my pulse racing in quite the same way as Groundtastic, which this month published its 50th edition.

Published four times a year, Groundtastic is an unapologetically dork-oriented guide to the construction, renovation and history of soccer stadiums. Its main focus is on the UK, but it reserves the right to share with us the picture of a weed-pocked terrace from Uzbekistan, or a quirkily positioned floodlight from an obscure stadium corner of Nepal. It’s written in the deadpan tones of a trade magazine, except that it’s a trade magazine you actually want to read. Or at least I do. From cover to cover.

Take its review of the new Shrewsbury Town stadium, a team in England’s fourth division that has just moved from its ancient, flood-prone Gay Meadow ground in the town’s center to a new but functional stadium on the outskirts of Shrewsbury, next to a retail park. The magazine makes it clear, without being overtly critical, that it doesn’t think much of the new ground’s faceless, cookie-cutter design, and the fact that, despite moving out of town, there’s no parking for fans, and no viable public transport links (sounds like England’s going the way of MLS).

What other magazine in the world, I ask you, would be brave enough to stand up and ask the tough questions that need to be asked about Shrewsbury Town’s new ground? Where else would I find out that Fleetwood Town of the Northern Premier League has unveiled “ambitious plans” for a £2 million upgrade of Highbury Avenue, including a 1,000-seater stand and new covered terraces at the northern end? Which other publication will tell me that Kentish Town of the Spartan South Midlands League, following groundshares with Haringey Borough and Hendon, have agreed a deal to play at Barnet Copthall Athletics Stadium for the coming season?

Historical features are no less detailed, and the magazine is prepared to risk the ire of homeowners to find the exact location of a long since demolished venue. Often its photographers, armed with a century-old map, will show up in somebody’s back garden because 70 years previously Norwich City called what is now partly a vegetable patch its home. Can you still just make out the shape of a terrace, over there where the runner beans are climbing out of the very spot where men in flat caps once cheered and cursed?

The magazine’s longing for a golden age of improvised stand designs, and grounds squeezed into unlikely urban settings, is palpable through every old and grainy black and white picture of a packed stand, juxtaposed with the modern day shot of a parking garage or an anonymous wall on a grey English afternoon. It welcomes new stadiums that show signs of originality, and which incorporate both the community and the environment into their design. It mourns the razing of historical venues to make way for yet another supermarket or housing estate.

In that respect, its list of stadiums that eager groundhoppers should be sure to visit before the bulldozers come makes for a depressing read, especially from a distance of several thousand miles. If you’ve yet to see a soccer game at Cambridge City’s Milton Road ground, or if life so far has denied you the pleasures of an afternoon at Arnold Town’s Gedling Road venue, now is the time to book your flight to the UK. Both are in the ‘Red’ section of the ‘Endangered Grounds’ list, meaning their end is imminent.

Groundtastic is social history charted through trends in soccer stadium design and location. World Soccer recently jumped on the bandwagon by starting a dull feature on individual cities and their venues. But they can’t fool us. Groundtastic has been catering to the ground geek market for years. They know what we want to know and what we want to see. You can stick your bland interviews with Sepp Blatter. What we want are stands of differing dimensions from all around the world.

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Lieutenant Dub
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Groundstastic is fucking brilliant, as was Pyramid magazine, a stapled-together A5 job backed with laminated stiff paper that would inevitably give you paper cuts (the only place I've seen the paper used elsewhere is on the programme for the Dorset Senior Cup final. Non-League geeks all have fingers like Freddie Kruger's face). Pyramid is the reason I spent a lot of the years from 18-21 visiting places like Baldock Town FC and Willington Town, instead of drinking cider and having embarrassing sex with horny women.
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Shorty Medlocke
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quote:
Groundstastic is fucking brilliant
My first ever front cover (well, my only front cover to date but you've got to start somewhere)

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boris
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Add me to the list of Groundtastic fans, and Pyramid too. Sadly, I think it's a little overpriced, but I'm seriously considering stopping my World Soccer subscription and getting Groundtastic instead. WS has been a deep disappointment over recent years, concentrating almost exclusively on the "big" clubs, and with nothing at all about anything that happens beneath the various top tiers. There's nothing in World Soccer that I can't get from various internet sites, and it rarely says anything remotely scathing about the G14. Even its editorials and op eds are too bland to be taken seriously. If it wasn't for the fact that I pay by DD I'd have given up on it yonks ago.
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smallweed
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Speaking of footie history, Joe, I've just been reading Frank Swift's autobiography, which is quite good fun. They don't make 'em like they used to.
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Belhaven
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Thanks for reminding me of Groundtastic. Haven't been to their website for ages. It's certainly time to check it out again.
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Joe Public
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I didn't rate Groundtastic's website that much - there's not much in the way of substantial articles. I'm tempted to go back-catalogue shopping but I swore I'd stop that kind of thing this year.

And they spelt Droylsden wrong.

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Reed
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I just linked through to this site:
http://www.footiemap.com/

As an enthusiast of maps, football and knowing where things are, I find this to be awesome.

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goldstone97
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That's pretty cool. I wish it were a bit more draggable and zoomable, real Google Maps-style. I think I also made-up two new words there.
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hissing fauna
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more draggable ( see, it's in use already, goldstone97) would have been great. could have dragged the P**h an Shitson into the North Sea.
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The Mighty Belgian
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Yeah, to echo the sentiments above - thanks for the reminder about Groundtastic, it's ages since I read an issue of that or Pyramid. And as for the footiemaps site - I love stuff like that, especially as I keep a list of all the grounds I've visited. It gives me a warm glow to know that I got to Milton Road just in time, seeing as it's officially endangered now... and now I can match up my list of grounds visited with the maps. If I didn't have to be up early for work tomorrow, I could spend hours on those sites.

In fact, I probably will. My mates think it's some kind of affliction, but I find it fascinating. And I know I am not alone... which is comforting.

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hissing fauna
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TMB: if you are on Facebook did you see this?
Posts: 206 | From: brighton is not 'london by the sea' | Registered: Jun 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Mighty Belgian
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Well, I've so far resisted joining Facebook but something like that could tempt me. Especially as it now features lower leagues and German grounds...
Posts: 929 | From: Walldorf (Baden) | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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