Ranked! The 100 best football stadiums in Britain
From Anfield to Oakwell, FFT ranks the best football stadiums by their matchday experience. We’re convinced there’ll be absolutely no arguing about it...
How do you decide on a list of the best football stadiums?
The perfect ground does not exist. Pubs and good patter can be traded off against handy road access or proximity to a station, while one fan’s trash is another’s beloved treasure (it’s called ‘charm’ – Ed.). But some things grab us all: that feeling as you stroll towards a historical behemoth; the sense of calm in
a unique beauty spot; a special atmosphere unmatched elsewhere. It’s all subjective, of course – but we’ve had a go at running down our favourites anyway. Bicker afterwards...
List compiled and written with Gary Parkinson, Nige Tassell, Mark White, Richard Jolly, Joe Brewin, Gregg Davies, Kenny Millar and James Andrew
100 best football stadiums in Britain
100. Plough Lane
Wimbledon’s new stadium may have opened less than 12 months ago, but there's more than 100 years of history at Plough Lane, the club’s spiritual home since 1912. The Dons left the old Plough Lane in 1991 – this one was built just 200 yards away, and is altogether smarter.
BEST FEATURE Not situated in Milton Keynes or Kingston.
99. Recreation Ground
The Shots’ ground is situated in a public park, with a distinctive downhill stroll through woodland required to access the away turnstiles of this traditional lower-league favourite.
BEST FEATURE Home and away fans are segregated in the barrel-roofed East Bank terrace behind one of the goals, which often makes for a cracking atmosphere. Don’t forget your drum.
98. MKM Stadium
A statement of ambition, rising above the surrounding houses, shops and parks on the skyline of the city. Hull waited a century to play top-flight football – it was no coincidence they did in their new ground.
WEIRDEST MOMENT Phil Brown belting out a verse of the Beach Boys’ Sloop John B to celebrate the Tigers retaining their Premier League status in 2009.
97. Edgeley Park
Over 120 years old, Edgeley Park is a relic of English football – but to traditionalists, it still carries certain charms of bygone years. With the town centre nearby, there’s plenty going for it as a solid non-league away day.
BEST FEATURE The Railway End: a former terrace converted to an uncovered seating area, it’s generally only used for the biggest games these days. Scruffy fun.
Football fans with a taste for time travel have often made pilgrimages to Sandygate. Located on Sheffield’s western fringes, it hosted its first match as far back as the mid-19th century, making it the world’s oldest football stadium. And that’s Guinness official.
DID YOU KNOW? Sandygate was the final home ground of one Christopher Roland Waddle, who then coached Hallam’s Sunday team.
95. Wham Stadium
Seamlessly and stylishly expanded and improved as Accrington rose up the divisions, but retaining its homely feel. There are views of nearby hills, but wherever you’re sat or stood it’s pleasingly near the pitch to feel involved.
WEIRDEST MOMENT Accrington found a pair of false teeth which a fan had lost while watching their 2018 win over AFC Wimbledon.
94. Seel Park
Tucked on the north-westerly edge of the Peak District in Greater Manchester, Seel Park is accompanied by some of the best views in non-league. It’s been modernised in recent years too, and now features various viewing points: standing terraces, seats… even a garden bench.
BEST FEATURE Beyond the obvious scenery, Seel Park also has its own beer garden serving local brew – a nice touch on matchdays.
93. Maes Tegid
Is it possible to look at Maes Tegid without a feeling of complete serenity? With the rolling hills of Snowdonia National Park for company, it’s one of the most pleasant grounds on these shores. Aaaand breathe...
DID YOU KNOW? Bala have played seven seasons’ worth of Europa/Conference League qualifiers – but never at home. UEFA regulations mean they have to use Rhyl’s Belle Vue instead. Boooooo.
92. The Saffrons
Home to the oldest club in Sussex, Town’s home for 135 years is tucked neatly on the edge of town behind stone walls and cricket sight screens. It’s a leafy cracker, spied upon by the clock tower of Eastbourne’s heritage museum.
DID YOU KNOW? Since 1947, fires have destroyed the Saffrons’ cricket pavilion, its replacement, a wooden grandstand (arson) and main turnstile. Cursed.
Named after nearby Highbury Avenue rather than Arsenal’s old ground (although they suspiciously borrowed the Gunners’ club colours too), Fleetwood brightened up their home as they neared the EFL. There’s an arcing main stand and a smaller seating area opposite, which curiously still sits directly in front of the rickety old stand it replaced.
BEST FEATURE Every time Fleetwood score, they play the theme tune to Captain Pugwash
90. Vicarage Road
There might be nowhere to park, but this is another terrific crucible for night-time football. Pre-match entertainment comes courtesy of away team drivers attempting to reverse their luxury coaches down the narrow lane to the player’s entrance.
DID YOU KNOW? Vicarage Road doubled as the home ground of Dunmore United in ’80s ITV kids caper Murphy’s Mob.
An unashamed throwback full of character. Upgrades haven’t been a priority for a club that has survived some tough times, meaning Cappielow sits rough and ready by the docks, whose famous Titan Crane dominates the skyline. A five-minute walk from Cartsdyke train station.
BEST FEATURE We’re big fans of the three-tier dugouts, which will hopefully be back to full capacity soon enough.
88. Penydarren Park
Plonked atop a hill, the ground occupies the site of a Roman military settlement – and while showing its age in places, is a rustic gem that recently benefited from development work costing £3m.
DID YOU KNOW? Merthyr stunned Atalanta here in the first round of the 1987-88 European Cup Winners’ Cup, in one of Welsh football’s most memorable nights.
87. The Football Pitch
Population 143 (at last count)
OK, so it’s more ‘pitch’ than ‘ground’… but just look at it. Locals on this Outer Hebrides island have their beach, community hall, pub, shop… and football pitch. It’s uneven, on a slope, completely exposed to the elements and wildlife – but it’s beautiful.
DID YOU KNOW? In 2015, FIFA picked it as one of the eight most remarkable places to play football.
86. The Wellesley
The main reason to visit one of the UK’s most easterly grounds isn’t to observe its 10th-tier Eastern Counties League side’s prowess – it’s to gaze upon, and sit within, the grandeur of its Victorian grandstand. Built in 1892, it’s the oldest in the country.
BEST FEATURE What else? That grandstand was given Grade II-listed status in 2002.
85. Brunton Park
A trip there represents a slog for most fans, being so close to Scotland, but <i>is worth it thanks to a lopsided mix of seated stands and terraced paddocks. Crammed with character.
WEIRDEST MOMENT Magno Vieira's madcap winner against Halifax in 2005: a quick free-kick after goalkeeper Ian Dunbavin mistakenly thought the referee was calling him over, but was then penalised for handball outside his box.
84. The Valley
Evocative name, evocative place. Those of long tooth will recall the repurposed chalkpit’s post-war glory years; others The Who’s record-breakingly loud gig there. After the Addicks’ seven-year absence, ended in 1992 by the fans’ organisation and determination, came The Valley’s subsequent triumphant rebuild.
BEST FEATURE When the DJ strikes up The Skids’ Into The Valley, only a stone heart remains unstirred.
Hampton & Richmond
The splendour of Hampton Court Palace may only be a mile and a half down the road, but you’ll find none of that pomp and pageantry at the Bev: a cosy ramshackle hodgepodge hidden in leafy suburbia.
DID YOU KNOW? Last season’s WSL winners and Champions League runners-up Chelsea called it their home for several campaigns during the mid-noughties.
82. Blundell Park
Take your big coat, if not your galoshes: Grimsby’s Cleethorpes home is hard by the North Sea. It’s also a historical layer cake. Roughly half of the 1939 away end is restricted view, but the 1961 Pontoon End makes a fine racket. Like the two ends, the pillar-filled 1901 Main Stand is dwarfed by the 1982 two-tier job opposite, from which you can watch the weather closing in.
BEST FEATURE The black-and-white floodlights.
81. The Abbey Stadium
The neighbouring Barnwell Lake provides a scenic backdrop to one of the most distinct grounds in the lower leagues. The North Terrace may be a throwback but the nostalgic ought to like it.
WEIRDEST MOMENT Notorious former boss John Beck moved the opposition’s dugout to near the corner flag, to stop the visiting manager from having a good view. That’s the spirit.
80. St James Park
Framed by elegant houses, packed in by roads and the railway, it combines the throwback of a large open terrace with more modern features – including the £3.4m Stagecoach Adam Stansfield Stand, which was completed in 2018.
WEIRDEST MOMENT Pop god Michael Jackson visited in 2002 with magician David Blaine and his friend Uri Geller, who was then Exeter’s joint chairman.
79. Liberty Stadium
The Liberty sways when Swansea are winning. Tucked away in picturesque surroundings, the Swans’ sphere is somewhat identikit – but it’s had classic moments and huge scalps since opening in 2005.
WEIRDEST MOMENT An elderly lady giving two fingers to protestors at a UKIP rally, staged at the Liberty in 2014. Still less aggro than when Cardiff visit, mind.
78. Cardiff City Stadium
Despite having the dullest of names, Cardiff City’s current home – built on a site adjacent to their old Ninian Park ground – is a terrifically noisy place when filled with passionate Bluebirds. But it takes on an extra dimension when homeboy Gareth Bale leads out the national side here.
DID YOU KNOW? Jay Bothroyd scored the first goal at the stadium, in a pre-season friendly against non-league Chasetown.
77. Gayfield Park
Bring a coat... and your appetite. Arbroath is famous for its ‘smokies’ – a local delicacy made from haddock. The fish is salted overnight before being tied in pairs to dry, then hung in a special barrel.
DID YOU KNOW? Gayfield is believed to be the closest ground to the sea in Europe, meaning a howling wind from the North Sea. Brrrrrr!
76. Ashton Gate
Situated in the foreground of rolling Bristolian hills and the Clifton Suspension Bridge, Ashton Gate is a sleeping giant. Its 27,000-capacity is rarely full but the acoustics are excellent – often amplifying dedicated chants to drinking cider.
WEIRDEST FEATURE When you’re a first-time visitor and realise that at full-time, yes, that is the Wurzels that they’re playing.
75. Twerton Park
If you like character, you’ll probably like Twerton Park, with its combination of open terraces, main stand in a faded shade of green and backdrop of rolling hills. They don’t build ’em like this anymore.
WEIRDEST MOMENT Bath offered the naming rights via a £50 raffle in 2012, raising some £8,350 for the club… and a few ‘unsuitable’ suggestions. Luckily, charity The Mayday Trust won.
74. Balmoor Stadium
Balmoor’s a great away day, but best take your car – the nearest station is 32 miles away. Fish pie is a staple in this notorious port town, though fans had better huddle up: the North Sea wind is a bit nippy...
DID YOU KNOW? Long-serving midfielder Simon Ferry has become an attraction in his own right thanks to his exploits on the popular Open Goal YouTube channel.
73. Vitality Stadium
Dean Court was rebuilt two decades ago and has seen Bournemouth from bottom to top – and with fans so close to the action, it’s had a huge part to play in their rise.
WEIRDEST MOMENT 20 minutes of serenading new signings Juan Iturbe and Benik Afobe against West Ham in January 2016, set to ‘La Bamba’ and split into two choral sections.
Its side is a nod to Middlesbrough’s industrial past. Perhaps the Riverside looks best at night, the lights reflecting in the water – and it surely shone brightest in the evenings of Boro’s run to the 2006 UEFA Cup Final.
BEST FEATURE The gates from the old Ayresome Park, flanked by the statues of Boro greats Wilf Mannion and George Hardwick.
71. Memorial Stadium
Many grounds don’t have one memorable stand. The Memorial has two. The blue East Stand rises high above the rest of the ground, while the lighter West Stand looks more like a cricket pavilion
DID YOU KNOW? It’s built on Buffalo Bill’s Field, where William Cody – one of the legends of the Wild West – once staged a show.
70. Caledonian Stadium
Inverness Caledonian Thistle
It’s a long old poke for pitiful pub options, but… that view. Caley’s stadium lies on the banks of the picturesque Moray Firth, well known for its population of dolphins, while the away end offers a glimpse of the Kessock Bridge.
DID YOU KNOW? The stadium doubled up as a drive-in cinema during the pandemic – with screenings of Braveheart, Grease, Joker and Toy Story.
69. New Manor Ground
The New Manor Ground is getting newer, with a £2m revamp. It should be one of the plushest stadia outside the Football League – while retaining its lovely Clock Tower.
DID YOU KNOW? Ilkeston Town are the second Ilkeston Town to play here. The first folded in 2010, to be followed by Ilkeston FC and now another Ilkeston Town. Right.
68. Loftus Road
The nearby BBC’s default ground for football filming is so tight it’s claustrophobic, with four steep stands shoulder-to-shoulder and looming close over the pitch. That’s not always good for the legroom but it’s great for the atmosphere: the single-tier Ellerslie Road is small but vociferous, while the two-tier Loft end sucks the ball in.
BEST FEATURE That it’s now officially named after the Kiyan Prince charity.
67. Turf Moor
Travel back in time to a ground older than the Football League, boxed in by terraced houses and with views of industrial chimneys and Pennine hills. The noise can be a reminder of earlier eras, too.
DID YOU KNOW? The cameras were banned from Turf Moor by dictatorial former chairman Bob Lord, who thought television coverage was bad for football.
Carved into the side of a hill, its idyllic ‘upper pitch’ setting offers attractive views of the village River below... once you’ve finally got your breath back after a hike up to the turnstiles.
DID YOU KNOW? The adjoining ‘lower pitch’, now used by Dover Rugby Club, hosted more than 100 first-class cricket matches for Kent between 1907 and 1976.
65. Broadhurst Park
FC United of Manchester
After a long-term ground-share with Bury, FC United moved into their own gaff six years ago. From the outside, it resembles a new-build tertiary college, but inside it’s a brilliantly atmospheric crucible, aided by the inclusion of terraces that replicate the feel of the old pens at Old Trafford.
DID YOU KNOW? The first official match here was between FC United and Benfica B, on the anniversary of the 1968 European Cup Final.
64. Selhurst Park
Nobody could claim Selhurst is a beauty – not even the home fans who pack it out and threaten its ageing rafters with songs and drumbeats every fortnight. Certainly not the away fans in the 1969 Arthur Wait Stand, which is far from fabulous at 50. But the heady atmosphere and urban setting contribute to a stirringly different type of matchday.
BEST FEATURE England’s best tifosi.
63. Princes Park
Modern? Yes. Dull and conventional? Absolutely not. Dartford boast one of Britain’s most eco-friendly grounds, featuring solar panels, a water recycling system, grassy ‘living roof’ and timber beams. Surely the gold standard for new non-league ground design.
BEST FEATURE Dartford were never crowdless amid COVID – their towering Oak Man in the stands is always there lending his support.
62. St Andrew's
A ground to suit the club. Shinier and newer stadia have more pretensions of grandeur, but St Andrew’s is in the heart of a community and a working-class fanbase can produce a rousing atmosphere.
WEIRDEST MOMENT Former Birmingham manager Barry Fry urinated on all four corner flags to lift a gypsy’s curse on the ground. Or that was his excuse, anyway.
An extra layer is advised to ward off those sharp-toothed winds at this classic cathedral of South Yorkshire football. And do keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of the club’s former poet-in-residence – the season-ticket-holding broadcaster Ian McMillan – waxing lyrical in the tea queue come half-time.
DID YOU KNOW? In 2008, Manchester City played a home UEFA Cup tie at Oakwell because their new pitch wasn’t ready.
60. Claggan Park
Few, if any, British football grounds can boast such a dramatic backdrop. The local Highland Football League side play in the direct shadow of one of Ben Nevis’s foothills, with the peak itself – almost invariably snow-capped – visible beyond in all its cloud-scraping glory.
DID YOU KNOW? For several years, this was the home ground of future Premier League star John McGinlay, who scored 61 goals in 92 appearances for Fort William.
59. Pride Park
One of the most stylish and classy of the modern stadia, aided by the black and white colours. The bust of Steve Bloomer, next to the dugouts, is a nice nod to Derby’s rich history.
DID YOU KNOW? The first goal and first competitive goal at Pride Park were both scored by Italians – Vincenzo Montella and Stefano Eranio.
58. Causeway Lane
With trees framing the appropriately named Twigg Stand, one of the most picturesque grounds in non-league is on the edge of the Peak District. The scenery extends to Matlock’s football club: even the Gladiators’ badge looks unique and appealing.
BEST FEATURE The views of Riber Castle, the 19th-century stately home, on a hill overlooking the town and ground.
57. Bellsea Park
In the far north-eastern corner of Aberdeenshire, Fraserburgh is one of the biggest shellfish ports in Europe. It also takes a great deal of pride in its local team, whose cracking ground is overlooked by Fraserburgh South Kirk.
DID YOU KNOW? In January 2018, The Broch became the first Highland League side to appear live on Sky Sports when hosting Rangers in the Scottish Cup.
56. Meadow Lane
A wonderful location, near the city centre and just across the river Trent from Nottingham Forest, which serve as a reminder of County’s past. Meadow Lane’s size shows they really shouldn’t be a non-league club now.
DID YOU KNOW? County used to play at Trent Bridge – although they had to find other venues when Nottinghamshire were playing cricket there.
55. Home Park
The ‘Theatre of Greens’ – nicknames don’t get much better – was heavily bombed in the Second World War but still has its lovely 1930s art-deco façade to complement plenty of far more modern facilities.
DID YOU KNOW? Manchester United faced Saint-Etienne in the Cup Winners’ Cup at Home Park in 1977 – it had to be staged more than 200km from Old Trafford after rioting.
54. Glebe Park
Brechin have fallen on hard times with relegation to The Highland League, but their stadium remains one of the most distinctive in Scotland – largely due to the unmistakable (and well-tended) hedge that borders the length of one flank.
DID YOU KNOW? Glebe Park’s iconic topiary was under threat in 2009 because UEFA deemed Brechin’s pitch dimensions too small to meet their requirements.
53. The New Lawn
Forest Green Rovers
No other league ground is located at the top of such a lung-sappingly steep hill as the New Lawn is. Those with tickets for the main stand can enjoy the fine fare of the all-vegan restaurant, along with views of the local cattle on the hill opposite.
WEIRDEST FEATURE The dressing rooms are situated in what looks like a toilet block in the far corner of the pitch.
52. Recreation Park
Alloa are widely regarded as one of the best-run part-time clubs in Scotland – extending to the maintenance of their tidy stadium. The 3G surface isn’t to everyone’s liking, but those glorious views of the Ochil Hills from the Railway End wash all concerns away.
BEST FEATURE You haven’t had the full Scottish football experience until you’ve tried Alloa’s famous pie in a roll.
51. Kenilworth Road
That row of ground-level executive boxes along one touchline has always been a weird anomaly among stadiums, but there are few more flavoursome places to watch a midweek Championship game than in this tight, distinctly old-school stadium.
BEST FEATURE The decidedly quirky entrance to the Oak Stand, which takes away fans up and over neighbouring back gardens.
50. Brentford Community Stadium
Sadly gone are the pubs on every corner, but the buzz of the Bees’ new hive remains. Brentford’s new arena is fresh with an atmosphere of old – as fans proved when they practically took their new sloped roof off against Arsenal on their Premier League debut.
BEST FEATURE Just how impressively 17,000 seats have been squeezed into a tiny square of London land. The enclosed design means the sound stays in, too.
49. St Mary's
An enclosed bowl gives it a complete feel, and the symmetry of it makes it the opposite of their cramped former home, The Dell. The front façade has plenty of glass and plenty of class.
WEIRDEST MOMENT The statue of club legend Ted Bates was removed after a few days in 2007 – because it looked more like former Pompey owner Milan Mandaric.
48. University of Bolton
To most, it’s still the Reebok. Supercharging Huddersfield’s template, its roomy two-tier stands offer excellent customer comfort below those yearning floodlights whose points pierce the often-glowering Lancastrian sky. Hard by the motorway, served by trains and surrounded by shopping, it’s arguably the country’s finest ‘new’ stadium for those who count most – the supporters.
BEST FEATURE The legroom, so often forgotten in the race to milk wallets.
47. Edgar Street
Little has changed since Ronnie, Ricky & Co sparked parka-clad pitch invasions in the ’70s, but to many that remains part of the appeal of visiting an old classic with its towering floodlights – among the first to be installed in England.
BEST FEATURE The Bulls’ mascot – an actual one – is paraded around the ground before high-profile games.
46. Cae Clyd
We’d imagine the locals were fairly chuffed when their former rubbish tip was transformed into one of Wales’ greatest-looking football grounds in the mid-50s. Set in the heart of Snowdonia, it’s now a gorgeous sprawl of hillsides, housing and greenery. Phwoar indeed.
DID YOU KNOW? In July, Wales’ slate landscape – including Blaenau Ffestiniog – was named as the UK’s 33rd UNESCO World Heritage Site.
45. Bet365 Stadium
Yes, the former Britannia Stadium sits on top of a big hill and every third match seems to be played in some sort of hurricane, but it hasn’t stopped the atmosphere being one of Britain’s best over the years. Stoke fans have broken decibel records – they were officially as loud as a jumbo jet taking off.
DID YOU KNOW? When Stanley Matthews died in 2000, his ashes were buried beneath the centre circle.
Preston North End
Though drenched in history and brilliantly named, Deepdale desperately needed an update. It got one, superbly modelled on Sampdoria’s four-square Luigi Ferraris. The faces of Tom Finney, Bill Shankly and Alan Kelly (ask a local) gaze on from steep-raked single-tier stands affording excellent views, not least of the Invincibles Pavilion honouring those formative unconquerables.
BEST FEATURE The ‘Splash’ Tom Finney statue.
A scenic favourite, Dumbarton’s ground sits under Castle Rock. It’s a shame that the seats in their one stand face away from the landmark, but regardless, it makes for a pretty picture and is only a five-minute walk from the train station.
BEST FEATURE The dugouts – at least the coaching staff and subs get to enjoy one of the best views in Scottish football.
42. Stadium of Light
Spectacularly overlooking the River Wear, this hulking arena shouldn’t be hosting League One football – it’s previously staged England matches, back when the atmosphere for Sunderland games could be absolutely electric.
BEST FEATURE The deafening pre-match rendition of Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knights, later nicked by the BBC as the theme tune for The Apprentice. Brief attempts to replace it with ’90s trance didn’t go down well.
41. Earls Orchard
Capacity 500 (est.)
Voted England’s most scenic non-league ground in 2019... and it’s easy to see why. By the river Swale in the Yorkshire Dales, beneath the shadow of trees, it’s unique – even if Richmond are moving to get a 5G pitch elsewhere.
BEST FEATURE The imposing Richmond Castle, which dates back almost 1,000 years to Norman times, towers over the ground.
40. Cwm Nant-y-Groes
This might look like a scene from The Sound of Music, but no – behold the beauty of Welsh village Six Bells and its stunning ground of third-tier side Abertillery. Drainage issues forced them to play on a 3G surface elsewhere until this year, when local grafters improved the pitch to ensure a return home. We’re very glad they did.
BEST FEATURE A conifer valley overhead – that’s quite nice, isn’t it?
39. John Smith's Stadium
Leeds Road was the archetypal mid-century English football ground; the new place up the road pointed to the future. All graceful arcs and fan-led architecture, the new Kirklees Stadium opened with just the two side stands, the ends following in due course. Not many grounds get voted the RIBA’s Building of the Year; this did, in 1995.
BEST FEATURE Those roof-supporting ‘banana trusses’.
There’s no shortage of folks pleased to hear that a proposed stadium move has stalled. The distinctive old floodlights and granite façade of the Merkland Stand are eye-catching, while the club have done a great job revamping their vibrant Red Shed area.
DID YOU KNOW? Pittodrie was the first football stadium to feature a dugout, thanks to trainer Donald Coleman in the 1920s.
37. Mill Road
A view that belongs on a picture postcard, with greenery and history. The Mullets – a nickname that sadly has nothing to do with 1980s footballers – have quite a sight.
BEST FEATURE The views of the magnificent Arundel Castle, built by an ally of William the Conqueror, home to the Dukes of Norfolk for 400 years and stylishly restructured in the 19th century.
36. Etihad Stadium
Proof that an athletics stadium can be transformed into a top-quality football ground. Outstanding facilities and some brilliant football have made the Etihad a byword for big games, though a struggle to fill it for smaller ones doesn’t always lend itself to a raucous atmosphere.
WEIRDEST MOMENT Phil Brown’s half-time team talk on the pitch when his Hull side were 4-0 down in 2008. Final score: 5-1.
35. Bloomfield Road
Blackpool’s home is a tangerine butterfly from a very ugly caterpillar. That the rotting Kop, dingy Scratching Shed, low-slung main stand and shallow South Stand have gradually been replaced by shiny new stands (even the ‘temporary’ East is an upgrade) is all the more remarkable given the club’s ownership affairs. And it’s still a great town for an away day.
BEST FEATURE The statue of the universally loved Jimmy Armfield.
34. Victoria Park
OK, so it’s a trek for most – but a worthwhile one to a beautiful part of Scotland. Dingwall’s train station couldn’t be handier and also boasts a welcoming pub, The Mallard, whether you’re looking to celebrate or commiserate. Victoria Park’s haggis and venison pie is almost worth the trip itself.
DID YOU KNOW? Victoria Park has a greater capacity than the population of Dingwall.
33. Huish Park
It doesn’t have the famous slope of the old Huish, indelibly associated with the FA Cup shock of Sunderland in 1949, but the elegant, distinctive Tamburino Stand and open terraces make it the model for many lower-league grounds.
WEIRDEST MOMENT Four Yeovil fans staged a pitch invasion in 2018 and tried to escape by climbing over the away end – but got trapped on a roof.
32. Blandy Park
What is it about Wales and rubbish tips? It’s a minor miracle this pitch in the village of Pontycyme, south Wales, even exists. Once a coal waste dumping ground, it was eventually transformed by local miners who dug out the bank to ensure a flat piece of playable land in terrain that’s anything but. And what results.
BEST FEATURE A two-storey cottage that also serves as the club’s changing rooms. Obviously.
31. Amex Stadium
Brighton & Hove Albion
Home is sweeter for absence, and Brighton slept rough longer than most. After 14 sofa-surfing years, the Falmer opened a new era. It’s well-equipped and modern, to the point that ticket holders get free public transport – not, in truth, ideal for car-driving away fans.
BEST FEATURE The hawks that, without irony, scare away seagulls.
30. The Enclosed Ground
Sunk into East Sussex’s South Downs, the Brighton-based ground is easily one of non-league’s most picturesque. Occasionally visited by an actual hawk in club regalia for special occasions, it’s pretty from pitchside – or higher…
BEST FEATURE Cheapskates rejoice: you can watch games for free if you fancy trekking up the hill, with glorious views thrown in for good measure.
If you like old gold, this is the stadium for you. Handily located near Wolverhampton city centre, it’s been expanded in recent years after a major overhaul in the 1990s. The atmosphere is usually decent.
WEIRDEST MOMENT The bomb squad arriving to conduct a controlled explosion on a suspicious foil package before an England U21 game in 1996 – it turned out to be a cheese sandwich.
28. Hampden Park
Some of the views are poor and the stands too far from the pitch, but Hampden remains iconic. If you need convincing, dig out the footage of Leigh Griffiths scoring a second free-kick against England in 2017. We also recommend its fine museum.
DID YOU KNOW? Liverpool’s Andy Robertson worked in the office when he was a part-time player at Queen’s Park.
27. The Den
The oldest of the ‘new’ all-seater stadiums built following the Taylor Report – and also the closest to central London. There’s a great atmosphere for the big games… particularly when West Ham or Leeds are in town.
DID YOU KNOW? The Den also doubled up as the home ground for Sky One’s fictional team Harchester United in Sky One hit Dream Team.
26. King Power Stadium
Moulded from the same bowl that had popped out Southampton’s St Mary’s a year earlier, the Foxes’ Filbert Street replacement was eventually sprinkled with magic dust to create the kind of party atmosphere that could only accompany the club’s wild magic carpet ride. Plans to expand it to 40,000 look highly impressive.
WEIRDEST MOMENT Leicester fans created a minor earthquake celebrating Leo Ulloa’s last-minute winner against Norwich in March 2016.
25. Adams Park
Although the approach to Adams Park is through an ugly industrial estate, the ground is flanked on its remaining three sides by open countryside and woodland. If the on-field action gets dull, simply gaze skywards to watch the resident red kites circle overhead.
DID YOU KNOW? Adams Park’s first-ever match saw Wycombe manager Martin O’Neill up against former club Nottingham Forest – and former boss Brian Clough.
Only the bang-central Villa Park has hosted more FA Cup semi-finals than the Owlerton behemoth, with its history-defining stands. The 1915 main stand with its clock face and finial; the 1961 North Stand with the country’s first full-length cantilever roof; the huge Kop symbolising the terrace era, and the haunting Leppings Lane that ended it.
BEST FEATURE The North Stand’s graceful space-age curves.
23. The City Ground
Notts County’s Meadow Lane is closer to the city centre, but Forest’s Trentside home was the centre of Europe for two seasons. Brian Clough’s success built the expensive stand that (after remodelling) bears his name, and history hangs heavy around a ground awaiting a comparable hero that may never come.
BEST FEATURE The Bridgford End’s bent roof, which keeps nearby houses in sunlight.
22. Champion Hill
The local manor of these south London cult favourites recently evaded the property developer’s wrecking ball. Mix with the band of mild-mannered ultras known as The Rabble… and keep an eye out for former player turned newly appointed director Peter Crouch.
WEIRDEST MOMENT Champion Hill was once the location for a terraces-cleaning task on The Apprentice.
21. Valley Parade
Stubbornly clinging to a Pennine slope, Valley Parade wears its cantilever technology proudly, like a Yorkshire version of the Pompidou. Its mismatched stands – the main one ends abruptly to accommodate the street that names the stadium – create a winningly unique ground of two halves.
BEST FEATURE The players emerging from what looks like a non-league changing hut.
20. Fratton Park
Maritime and military, Portsmouth is very English; Fratton is ferociously traditional. Behind the mock-Tudor main entrance is a bastion of Archie Leitch stands, old terraces (now seated) and vociferous support. This ain’t your sanitised Premier League football – and for many it’s all the better for it.
BEST FEATURE The disused old floodlight relocated to the car park as a keepsake–cum-telecom tower.
19. Goodison Park
Everton’s home drips history, from its classic stands with archetypal Leitch cross-braced balconies to St Luke’s Church popping its head from behind the Jumbotron. Sadly but inevitably, the Toffees are leaving the close-packed terraced streets for a swish new dockside home – so soak up this history while you can.
BEST FEATURE Those Leitch cross-braces: bygone beauties.
18. Easter Road
Embedded in one of Europe’s most densely populated areas, you’re treated to views of Arthur’s Seat – an ancient volcano – at one end, and Leith Docks from the other. Sunshine On Leith sounds superb when belted out from the single-tier East Stand.
DID YOU KNOW? During lockdown, cardboard cutout supporters included celebrity Hibee Andy Murray and 33 kangaroos on behalf of their Australian supporters club.
17. Carrow Road
Chuffed at having built a new ground in 82 days, club officials at the ground’s opening called it the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. A bit much perhaps, but the riverside Carrow Road has tradition (On The Ball City is football’s oldest song) and good views from the South Stand (named after a bloke called South).
BEST FEATURE The rotating phone screen thing. Quirky is good.
16. Elland Road
Four stands named after legends (Charles, Charlton, Hunter and Revie) frame a bearpit in which Marcelo Bielsa’s busy little bees delight the locals and terrify the visitors – just as it was in Don Revie’s heyday. A loud, proud ground.
WEIRDEST MOMENT In 1971, Revie became convinced the ground was cursed so hired a “gypsy witch” from Scarborough to perform a cleansing magic spell.
15. The Hawthorns
West Bromwich Albion
The English league’s highest stadium and one of its most evocative names. Once they’d cleared the bushes, they made a marvellous ground which has retained its history despite necessary reinventions down the decades (including, winningly, repurposing the old Handsworth Stand to cover the Brummie Road end).
BEST FEATURE The throstle in the Woodman corner. C’mon, who doesn’t love an enormous avian effigy?
14. The Dripping Pan
A 15-minute train ride east out of Brighton, The Dripping Pan is set on a salt marsh formerly panned by local monks (hence its name), while its steep, pitch-length grass bank gives the place a fabulous amphitheatre feel. Craft beers and gourmet burgers complete the deal.
DID YOU KNOW? The Day Today actor Patrick Marber was part of the consortium that bought now-fan-owned Lewes.
13. Stamford Bridge
The ground Fulham turned down and Chelsea still want out of is a fascinating historical document of near-bankruptcy (the East Stand), echoes of hooliganism (the Shed End) and reminders of players unheralded elsewhere (the Spackman and Speedie entrances).
WEIRDEST MOMENT In the 1980s, opinionated owner Ken Bates fought hooliganism by electrifying the perimeter fences – but the council wouldn’t let him switch them on.
12. Bramall Lane
A proper football ground, with fans in close proximity to the pitch and a brilliant atmosphere more often than not – particularly in recent years. No frills, but if you want to sample the true essence of English football, this is one of the grounds you should visit.
WEIRDEST MOMENT The 2002 Battle of Bramall Lane, of course – featuring three red cards, various punch-ups and an abandonment with eight minutes left. Peak Neil Warnock.
11. Emirates Stadium
It took years, but the bold ‘new’ bowl feels like home to Arsenal now. The views and surface are ever-immaculate, while time has allowed it to generate a better atmosphere for big games. Those who mock have never seen it rock.
WEIRDEST MOMENT How the Brazilian national side have randomly claimed the Emirates as their second home, having played eight fixtures at Arsenal’s stadium.
10. Wembley Stadium
It may have taken 14 years, but Wembley finally felt like a proper home for the England team at Euro 2020. For the first time, the atmosphere inside the ground finally matched its impressive architecture.
BEST FEATURE The arch replaced those iconic Twin Towers of the Old Wembley, but it’s more than just a landmark – it supports the roof structure, removing the need for columns. Every seat has a brilliant view.
9. Tynecastle Park
Heart of Midlothian
Ask Scottish football supporters for their favourite away day, and the chances are most opt for Tynecastle. Well served by public transport, it’s a proper ground stadium – the crowd are almost on top of the players and the steep stands keep the noise in.
DID YOU KNOW? The club’s ambitious redevelopment of their main stand was delayed when they forgot to order seats for it. A bad day at the office.
8. St. James' Park
The cathedral on the hill, visible from the city centre, is a highlight of the Newcastle skyline. The huge Milburn Stand and Leaves Stand feel like something out of the Camp Nou. It’s a sign of what Newcastle could – and should – be.
WEIRDEST MOMENT In 2005, Magpies midfielders Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer were sent off for fighting… each other.
7. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Tottenham’s billion-pound arena features the biggest Kop end in Europe and NFL capability, with a dividing pull-out pitch. It’s the most technologically advanced stadium ever constructed, geared to noise and comfort, and certainly puts the ‘experience’ in matchday experience.
BEST FEATURE An in-house brewery, making the ground the biggest pub in London. They just need a row of sandwich outlets called ‘The Deli Alley’ now. Guys?
6. Villa Park
From the statue of the Football League founder William McGregor, to the magnificent Holte End, it oozes history. The spiritual home of the FA Cup semi-final is opposite a stately home and its grandness shows Villa are footballing aristocracy.
DID YOU KNOW? England have only played home games at two grounds – Villa Park and Anfield – in all of the 1800s, 1900s and 2000s.
5. Old Trafford
Bobby Charlton wasn’t wrong in coining the phrase the Theatre of Dreams. England’s first holistically planned stadium was reborn in the cantilever era and again for the post-Taylor Report epoch.
WEIRDEST MOMENT Technically, Old Trafford holds the record for the lowest-ever Football League attendance: just 13, for Stockport vs Leicester in 1921 – although in truth, many more stayed behind after United’s preceding match against Derby.
4. Craven Cottage
London’s oldest ground is an away fans’ delight. Its famous cottage doubles up as the changing rooms, while the turnstiles for all four stands are uniquely on the same road. Its acoustics are poor, but the old ground was rocking for Fulham’s 2009-10 Europa League run.
DID YOU KNOW? The Riverside Stand is undergoing expansion redevelopment for 2022... complete with a rooftop swimming pool.
Everton’s exit over a rent squabble left Anfield available; it’s now one of the world’s most storied homes (especially on Those Midweek European Nights). The huge Kop terrace popularised witty chanting, and the stands around it have been raised to meet sky-high expectations.
WEIRDEST MOMENT In July 1987, a 15x20ft section of the Kop collapsed into the Victorian sewer below.
2. Celtic Park
The greats have lined up to rave about the electric atmosphere generated in Glasgow’s East End for big games. Steven Gerrard might think differently now, but he once said, “For an opposition player it’s quite incredible. I’ve not seen a better atmosphere.”
BEST FEATURE The redeveloped Celtic Way – the area directly outside the stadium – includes a statue of legendary former manager Jock Stein. His famous “football without the fans is nothing” quote became especially apt amid the COVID crisis.
If you’re looking for the best atmosphere in British football, Glasgow is the place. For its sheer vibrancy, passion and intensity, on and off the pitch, nothing on these shores compares to the matchday experience at an Old Firm fixture. Few games in the world can equal it – arguably only Boca Juniors versus River Plate.
Big European nights at Ibrox and Celtic Park are pretty special too, as various legends like Lionel Messi and Gigi Buffon have attested over the years. There’s very little to choose between the two grounds, and FFT does its best to maintain neutrality on all Rangers vs Celtic matters, but by the sheer nature of a list like this, there has to be a number one (inevitably dooming us to a deluge of angry letters).
Ibrox just about takes top spot, even though its capacity is smaller by around 10,000. Fans are close to the pitch on all sides of the ground, with good views from pretty much anywhere. Three sides of the stadium are aesthetically smart, modern two-tiered affairs, while the main stand provides the nod to history – and not only because it’s named after legendary manager Bill Struth.
Designed by legendary architect Archibald Leitch, the three-tiered stand is a Category B listed building with an impressive red brick facade that backs straight on to the main road, and a plush interior which includes a famous marble staircase leading to the boardroom and trophy room.
Just about within walking distance of the city centre, the local area is abuzz on matchday. Inside the ground it’s even more raucous – they don’t call it The Ibrox Roar for no reason. Whichever of the two Glasgow grounds you choose, visit for a big game if you can – you may not see anything like it elsewhere.
DID YOU KNOW? Ibrox holds the record attendance for any league match in Britain – 118,567 people saw Rangers face Celtic in 1939.
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