Day 19 – Burton-Derby-Nottingham!

Day 19 – Burton-Derby-Nottingham!

Burton Albion was the first club I’ve come to implementing stricter rules when it comes to approaching a football club. They have green, Amber and red zones set up now increasingly at football clubs since Boris upped the publics restrictions. A red zone is akin to Area-51. Theres no getting in for peasant folk like this Welshmen right here. Its strictly a place where the directors, the boss, team captain, last weeks man of the match and this seasons top scorer can wander about freely as if they are on holiday in Benidorm.

Amber areas are for the rest of the team. The subs can go here and you are also welcome if you’re an out of form player. Or if you’re simply just rubbish.

The green zone is I assume where they think covid lingers. Anyone who’s not important to the club can go here and mingle like zombies. So thats where I went. Its a very closed off ground the Pirelli Stadium. The Brewers as they are known, are relative newcomers to the top 4 leagues, having been promoted in 2009. Actually they are mere teenagers of the beautiful game in general, having only been founded in 1950. You just want to pinch their cheek.

The outside wasn’t giving anything away as to the club itself.
In fact the only bit of info I can give you on the club by actually visiting it, is on matchdays they sell peas and curry sauce for a pound.

Smart little stadium though and for them to be bouncing around mid table in league one is a hell of an achievement when you consider they are situated between former premier league champions liecester and Wayne Rooney plays just a 20 minute car journey away in the other direction.Talking of which, thats where I rolled onto next, Pride Park, home of the Rams, Derby County football club. Actually quite a magnificent stadium when youre outside, right up close. Their former home, the ‘Baseball Ground’ had a record attendance of over 44,000 back in 1969, however after the Hilsborough disaster, the Taylor report made it a legal requirement for all stadiums to be seated by 1995 and the capacity then dwindled to around 17,000. I can just imagine the terraces smelled much nicer in the 90’s and you had a much better chance of not getting peed on. So they decided to build a brand spanking new, sparkly, fit for purpose modern stadium. Hell of a job they’ve done too, In fact, it is the 16th largest football ground in England and the 20th largest stadium in the whole of the United Kingdom, so I’m not telling porkies.Its even got a posh restaurant built into the ‘Gordon Guthrie Stand’ named after a club legend who spent over 60 years working for the club.

Thats lush that, not naming a stand after a player or manager, but a normal club-devoted man who was trainer and kit manager amongst other duties and was given an MBE for his services to football in 2009. As legendary as he was though, the same can’t be said about the restaurant apparently.

At the other end is Unity Plaza, featuring a statue of footballing legend Brian Clough OBE and his number 2 Peter Taylor, who won the then division 2 title before securing the league 1 title by a point in the 1971-72 season. Thats some achievement. Some real Liecester City type ninja skills to nail that one.
And a statue of former player and manager Dave Mackay finishes off the tributes.

Gorgeous stadium, but I’m not going to go on about it due to the fact their nickname are ‘The Rams’ and you’ll accuse me of liking them too much due to their link with sheep. Still, talking about Brian Clough, it was time to go up the road to the City Ground, home to Nottingham Forest. Very rarely do you know what to fully expect when cycling from place to place. I get a rough idea with the terrain, its like a first date. It looks OK but anything could happen. Luckily enough, this was like that first date that ends in a cheeky snog round the back of a wetherspoons.

Riding through Nottingham, was beautiful.

The city ground is one of 3 grounds in close proximity. I can’t believe how close Nottingham Forest and Notts County are. Not in terms of hugging each other in some sort of football love in, I’m talking proximity. Also, right next to the City ground is legendary cricket ground, Trent Bridge.

So, the City Ground,
The cycle towards the ground shows just how magnificent a setting they have at Forest. Look at this ❤
If that wasn’t enough, the football ground is even situated conveniently close to one of Nottinghams prominent landmarks…

One thing I loved about Forests ground was the fact, on one street there, you can literally leave your house and 5 seconds later you can be in the stadium.

I can only imagine the housing market on that road will rocket if they end their 22 year stay out of the Premier League. Now that ladies and gentlemen, is pure convenience. You wouldn’t even have to queue up for a pee at half time, you could just nip home. Queue too long for the bar? Nip home and get a can out the fridge. Raining during the first half? Pop home and take a warm shower. Hot dog stand taking ages to serve? Jet home and put some toast on. If you’re not so lucky though you can always go up the road to the ultimate tribute to a footballing legend.

As with their neighbours Derby, they celebrate the legend that is Brian Clough here for obvious reasons. Th stretch of the A52 linking Nottingham and Derby was even renamed Brian Clough Way. Something i didn’t know was as a player, his record was ridiculous, with 251 goals in 271 games for Middlesbrough and Sunderland. I had to look twice at that at first. I knew he was a legendary manager but that striking record is nothing short of magnificent.The Brian Clough stand at Forest has been dedicated to the great man and its well deserved. When I think of Forest, I think of the European Cup. Clough played a massive part in that subconscious link after magnificently securing not just one, but consecutive european trophies in 1979 and 1980. Which, to say is an incredible achievement is putting it lightly. In his 18 years managing the club he also took them 6th from bottom in league 2 to winning the first division in 1978. I guarantee you it won’t be done in my lifetime. Add 4 league Cup trophies to the mix and you can say that with what he achieved, there’s an argument to be made that he is the greatest manager of all time. But ill let you lot argue that one out…
The stadium has wall tributes to former players and managers all around the one end and its a nice touch. Former players such as Roy Keane and Viv Anderson and former manager Frank Clarke have been immortalised and surrounded by personalised bricks fans have bought.
The City Ground, steeped in history, looks absolutely class. I can only imagine watching their European nights at this proper, old school footballing ground would be nothing short of incredible.

Only a short journey for the day as my bike was moving more like Homer Simpson than Jessica Simpson so I needed to end up in a city that had the facilities to get the thing serviced. I say thing, its more like my wife now. Ill leave todays journey using the terminology the girl serving me used as I left the store with my newly serviced bike in tow.
“Theres going to be a party between your legs from now on”

As a footnote, It was always going to be a struggle achieving the target set for this. We are living in an uncertain economic climate not just here in the UK, but worldwide. Unless you own Man City.

People have asked whether I think this is the best time to fundraise as a result. I get it I really do. It is very difficult to balance.

But my answer to that question is that it is absolutely the best time to do it. With the various socio-economic problems we are facing comes a barrage of knock on effects when it comes to mental health. People are losing jobs, people are worried for the futures of both themselves and their families. People’s social activities are being further restricted and as a result, that very lack of their familiar social outlets are having a real negative effect on their own mental wellbeing. With this, people inevitably start experiencing heightened forms of anxiety and depression. Paranoia, uncertainty and isolation. The list is endless when it comes to the cause and effects of what is happening today.

These charities we are supporting, both you and me in our ways, are underfunded due to the crisis we as a nation are facing, meaning their outreach to the vulnerable is becoming more restricted and difficult. This comes at a time when people need it most, more than I can ever remember in my lifetime. So, thinking about it, it actually is damn right the best time to do this fundraiser.

If you are struggling, then this website has all the help you need, just click the ‘I’m not ok’ button. You can find all facets of help available to you there, whatever demographic you come under. Because mental health does not discriminate to any demographic. You can get by text, email, web chat or one-to-one on the phone, whichever medium you are comfortable with.

To give you 2 stats, 16 million people in the UK went to Mind for help just last year alone.

And suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK

So for the people fundraising and chucking a couple of quid in, every single one of you, you are making a difference at the most crucial time. If you’ve clicked the donate button, then you actually are all literally helping save lives.

And that, is a damn good feeling eh?

So genuinely, thank you, you are all amazing.

And remember the golden rule, its ok not to be ok.

Together we got this 🔥

Laz x

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