FourFourTwo's Football Bucket List: 53 things every fan should do before they die
Words: Nick Moore, Louis Massarella, Paul Simpson, Marcus Alves, Martin Mazur, Kristan Heneage, Joe Crann, Richard Edwards, Paul Watson, Andy Brassell, Alex Holiga
1. Play football on top of a skyscraper in Tokyo
The 270-degree panorama, 10 storeys above one of Tokyo’s busiest stations, Shibuya, makes it one pitch where taking your eye off the ball is actively encouraged
Why: The Adidas Futsal Park is a uniquely Japanese answer to finding somewhere for a kickabout in the world’s most populous city. Having opened ahead of the 2002 World Cup, it’s still popular among those who favour the small-sided game, or just like a good view. The 270-degree panorama, 10 storeys above one of Tokyo’s busiest stations, Shibuya, makes it one pitch where taking your eye off the ball is actively encouraged. Tip: bring spare balls.
How: Get organised. It’s popular, so nabbing a booking isn’t easy, particularly as it can’t be done online and there’s no English-language website offering a phone number. Enlist the help of a local, and be ready to pay top dollar.
Local knowledge: Can’t get a booking? There are spectator areas, and Mark City Shopping Centre’s top floor has the best matchday view.
Cost: Peak rates are 20,000 Yen (around £150) for 90 minutes – not cheap, but still only £15 each for a long game of five-a-side.
2. Visit the Ottmar Hitzfeld Stadium via cable car
Why: Perched 2,000m (about 6,500ft) above sea level and within spitting distance of trendy Zermatt, one of Europe’s most fashionable ski resorts, the Ottmar Hitzfeld Stadium was built on the only piece of flat land available in the tiny Swiss village of Gspon. As a result, the pitch is only three-quarter size. It’s definitely worth a visit, with the breathtaking views making this one of the world’s most beautiful grounds. Home to Swiss no-marks FC Gspon, the ground is accessible only by cable car, as usual modes of transport splutter to a standstill in air so thin. Who knows? You might even find yourself travelling up with the Gspon FC players on their way to the highest pitch in Europe.
How: There’s really no need to book in advance for this one, as the cable car from the village of Stalden to Gspon runs all year round (except the first two Mondays of every month, when it’s shut for maintenance). There are hourly train connections to Zermatt from Geneva and Zurich airports.
Local knowledge: Duck inside the Bahnhofbuffet il Buffeto in Stalden for a bite to eat and an alpine beer before the lung-bursting ride above the clouds.
Cost: The cable car journey costs £8.
3. Sample the wine from Andres Iniesta’s vineyard
The tasting tour at Bodega Iniesta comes highly recommended, as does the tapas restaurant
Why: Some might ask: “Why would you want to make an incredibly rich man even richer by buying his wares?” We’d reply: “Stop being a killjoy and have some midfield-genius booze already.” Besides, one of the great things about vineyards is that you can go along and have a glug with no obligation to buy anything. The tasting tour at Bodega Iniesta comes highly recommended, as does the tapas restaurant. This isn’t just a pet project for the Barcelona great, either. “My family has always dreamed of owning a bodega,” he has said. “It’s a way of giving back to the place I was born. You don’t pay for the name – you pay for the wine.” Next: Xavi goes into cheesemaking.
How: The 100-acre site is located at Fuentealbilla, Albacete, and produces Bobal, Macabeo, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. It’s open daily from 9am to 2pm, then 4pm to 6pm (this is Spain, after all). Call +34 967 09 06 50 or email email@example.com.
Local knowledge: While in Albacete, check out the stunning architecture around the Pasaje de Lodares and the Catedral de San Juan Bautista.
Cost: Bottles start at a very reasonable €4.90; the most expensive is €18. You’d pay more than that for plonk from Waitrose.
4. See a Superclasico
Copa Libertadores clashes aren’t always covered by season tickets and are less likely to see away fans banned
The Buenos Aires biggie was ranked No.1 in FFT’s 2014 rundown of the world’s best derbies, and getting tickets is reassuringly tricky – especially at Boca’s Bombonera, where there are more season ticket holders than seats. An established tour or package is your best bet and worth the extra outlay, while Copa Libertadores clashes aren’t always covered by season tickets and are less likely to see away fans banned.
5. Tuck into a pie at Morecambe
With their menu including a four-time Football category winner (chicken and leek) and three-time Dessert champion (apple, sultana and cinnamon) at the British Pie Awards, Morecambe are the UK’s premier purveyors of pastry-cased perfection. Their pies were once sold at Harrods, feeding fans in west London as well as in coastal Lancashire.