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As the Premier League and much of the English Football League pause for another FIFA international break, Football Ground Guide provides you with a list of the best unique and historic non-league grounds to visit. You'll find below one fascinating non-league ground per major English city.
Best non-league ground to visit in London
Ground name: The Old Spotted Dog
Address: The Old Spotted Dog Ground, Rear Of 212 Upton Lane, Forest Gate, London, United Kingdom, E7 9NP
Year built: 1888
Link to purchase a ticket: https://www.claptoncfc.co.uk/store/#!/Tickets/c/58600666
The return of competitive first team men's football to the Old Spotted Dog after an absence of nearly four years, saw a crowd of 902 turn up to watch Clapton CFC defeat Kensington Dragons 3-0 in a Middlesex County League Premier Division match. pic.twitter.com/gZfF2ZblmP
— Vince Taylor (@Groundtastic) April 22, 2023
The Old Spotted Dog Ground in London is the oldest football ground in London having opened in 1888. Due to the high profile of this incredible stadium, some of the world's biggest clubs have played matches here including West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax. During World War 2, this ground was used as an anti-aircraft station.
If you do choose to attend a game here, you will be greeted with one of the non-league world's most incredible atmospheres. Clapton's famous ultras take up the entirety of one of the stands fan-owned club, tickets operate on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis and there are cans of Red Stripe on sale. It's a good day out.
Clapton FC had to leave the ground for several seasons but are back in place after a huge amount of work from those involved. It's a worthy cause to go and support, making this the perfect destination for a groundhopper in London.
Great ground-hopping destination in Manchester
Ground name: Gigg Lane (Bury FC)
Address: Gigg Lane, Bury, BL9 9HR
Year built: 1885
Link to purchase a ticket: https://buryfc.co.uk/tickets/
— Ben Abberstein (@benabberstein) September 2, 2023
The home of Bury FC needs no introduction. No games were played here for four years. Due to complete mismanagement by the previous owner, Steve Dale, original supporters of Bury FC set up a phoenix club whilst other supporters worked tirelessly to get the original club back playing and back at Gigg Lane.
All that hard work paid off when it was announced Bury FC, who would have to re-start their life back in football plying their trade in the tenth tier of the English football pyramid. With no games at Gigg Lane for so long, fans and groundhoppers have been flocking here. Bury's opening game of the current season, a 5-1 win against Glossop North End, brought in over 5,000 spectators which is believed to be a record attendance for the league the club are currently in.
Best of the non-league grounds to visit in Birmingham
Ground name: War Memorial Athletic Ground (Stourbridge)
Address: 85 High Street, Amblecote, Stourbridge, DY8 4HN
Year built: 1928
Link to purchase a ticket: https://stourbridgefc.ktckts.com
Birmingham-based Stourbridge FC play at the War Memorial Athletic Ground, just over 30 minutes by car away from Birmingham city centre. The club have had a rich history which started all the way back in 1876 when the club was founded Stourbridge Standard. Having bounced around the non-league system, Stourbridge are aiming for promotion from the Southern League Premier Central where they currently sit in second place after six games. An historic club to visit.
Pick of the non-league grounds in Liverpool
Ground name: Rossett Park (Marine AFC)
Address: College Road, Liverpool, L23 3AS
Year built: 1903
Link to purchase a ticket: https://marinefc.ktckts.com
At 16 years and 163 days old, Alfie Devine became Spurs' youngest ever player when he came on in the FA Cup against Marine AFC.
He became their youngest ever goalscorer six minutes later 👏
— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 10, 2021
Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur visited Rossett Park during Marine AFC's incredible, headline-grabbing 2020/21 FA Cup run, which ended in Third Round defeat to Spurs.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions in place in the Liverpool city region at the time, the game was played in front of a capped capacity meaning Marine earnt less money than they initially thought. A clever scheme to sell virtual tickets earned the club well over £300,000. It was a wonderful demonstration of the wide support for the non-league community across England, and Marine are a fine example of a good non-league club.
Marine AFC were founded in 1894 and in another unique moment in their history, they took on the Nigerian national team. In October 1949, the Nigerian Football Federation planned a United Kingdom tour which saw them play a game a Rossett Park against Marine in front of an unofficial crowd of 6,000 spectators.
Best non-league ground to visit in Leeds
The next ground we have selected is Nethermoor, home to Guiseley AFC who are based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. This ground is such as fun little ground with all four stands giving you so much character. There are four separate stands which make up this ground. The Railway End gives you a particularly nice view of the hills in the distance, beyond the tree line. The location of this ground is brilliant with it sitting a few minutes walk from Guiseley train station giving you almost immediate access back to Leeds city centre.
Great non-league ground to try in Newcastle
Ground name: 1st Cloud Arena (South Shields FC)
Address: Shaftesbury Avenue, South Shields, NE32 3UP
Year built: 1992
Link to purchase a ticket: https://bookings.southshieldsfc.co.uk/packages/LZEmOKzmpW/e/46AG5AzGwy
For our selection for the Newcastle area we have gone with South Shields who are doing their upmost best to rise through the levels, with the club currently residing in the National League North. Their ambition is reflected in the quality of their facilities which were recently used by the Costa Rican national team to prepare for a game nearby at St. James' Park.
It was our pleasure to welcome the national team of Costa Rica this week 🇨🇷
Los Ticos prepared for their international friendly at St James's Park tonight with three training sessions at 1st Cloud Arena.
— South Shields FC (@SouthShieldsFC) September 8, 2023
With Premier League Newcastle United to the north of them and Championship side Sunderland to the south, the club have a lot of challenges when it comes to gaining support but despite that, they have one of the best atmosphere's in the non-league system and currently see gates over 2,000 for their home games. Jade Thirwall, a member of the world famous girl band Little Mix, is from the area and has recently purchased a minority stake in the club to become one of the 750 new shareholders.
A must-visit non-league ground in Sheffield
Ground name: The Home of Football Stadium
Address: Tuffnells Home of Football, Sheffield Road, Dronfield, Derbyshire, S18 2GD
Year built: 2001
Link to purchase a ticket: https://shop.sheffieldfc.com/tickets
If you manage to visit Sheffield or live nearby then you have to get yourself down to the Home of Football to see the world's first football team and only one of two clubs to receive a FIFA Order of Merit award with the other award being given to Real Madrid. Steeped in history, this is a must visit if you are ever in the area. The club who were founded in 1857 have played at numerous stadium's since being formed with one being Sheffield United's Bramall Lane.