Groundhopping in Lancashire: Gigg Lane, Bury

After my brother and I’s impromptu tour around Spotland, we headed down the road to Bury’s Gigg Lane.

The League Two match at home to Bristol Rovers had already been called off due to a waterlogged pitch when we go to the ground, and there was no one about.

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We parked up, then took what pictures we could of the outside of the ground.

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We went in the Club Shop afterwards so more badges could be purchased, but no stadium tour was offered this time.

Behind the scenes at Spotland Stadium, Rochdale AFC

My brother and I were lucky and privileged enough to be given an impromptu stadium tour around Rochdale AFC’s Spotland ground on Saturday. We were en route to Manchester to visit the National Football Museum and decided to stop off at Spotland and Bury’s Gigg Lane on the way, to take pictures and have a look round.

After we’d taken some shots of the ground from the outside, we went into the Club Shop so I could buy a badge. I’m trying to buy a badge from every ground I visit these days. If only I’d done that for every ground I’ve visited since I was a kid! I’d have around 40!

We got talking to Stuart (Ashworth – the Retail & Projects Manager) about why we were there and what we were planning for the rest of the day, and he very kindly offered to take us into the ground.

My brother and I thought that he was going to let us get pitchside so we could take some pictures then show us out, but he took us all round the ground then behind the scenes, giving us a commentary as we went.

These are the pictures:

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Big thanks again to everyone who took time out to speak to us whilst we were there, and especially to Stuart for giving us such an intimate look behind the scenes of a football club on the morning of a match.

Rochdale AFC play in League Two, and are a real family club. We hope to visit there again and take in a match.

The Rochdale AFC website – www.rochdaleafc.co.uk

Follow them on Twitter – @officiallydale

WHO ARE YA? Stephen Hughes, Operations Manager for Street League

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Stephen Hughes, Operations Manager for Street League, with the Mayor of Warrington

1) Who are ya?

Stephen Hughes, 37, Glaswegian, Operations Manager for Street League

2) Who do you support?

The famous Glasgow Celtic – first British team to lift the European cup

3) What was your first game?

Davie Provan’s testimonial against Nottingham Forrest in 1987. Forrest won 3-1.

4) What do you do for a job?

I am the Operations Manager for a football Charity called Street League. We deliver sport/employability Academy programmes that support 16-25 yr old NEETs (not in employment, education or training) and get them back into work, College or national training programmes.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

Not any professional clubs. I have played football up to Amateur level in Scotland. Street League is currently looking at working alongside professional football clubs. For me, in Manchester, the two on the horizon are Bolton Wanderers FC and Oldham Athletic FC.

6) How did you get into it?

I applied for the role with Street League.

7) What do you get out of it?

It’s so rewarding getting people back into work, College or national training programmes so that they can achieve their potential.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

Be prepared to go above and beyond what is expected of you. Apply yourself in everything you do and no matter what you go on to become, be the best at it.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

I would put more commitment into my football when I was around 14/15. Looking back then, I probably had the ability to go on and become a professional footballer but I was easily distracted with other things such as girls and generally having a good time.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

I’ve never had a football hero as such. Even growing up my favourite player would change each season. In recent times my football hero would be Henrik Larsson. Not only one of THE best football players ever to grace a Celtic jersey, he was also a remarkably humble human being and was admired by most fans from other clubs as well.

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