Carl Marston’s Travels with Town: Ranking the best views from football grounds in the UK
Football writer Carl Marston continues his Travels with Town Series, on the eve of this weekend’s visit to Lincoln City, with a low-down of the best press box views in the land
Sincil Bank, the home of Lincoln City, can boast one of the best views from a Football League stadium anywhere in the country – well, from the press box at least.
The glorious sight of Lincoln Cathedral lies just over a mile away to the north, off Minister Yard.
This can be inSpiring, especially if the away team (preferably Ipswich Town) are winning, but can also be a welcome distraction if the Imps are on top and grinding down the visitors.
Of course Town supporters have had need of such a distraction at times, on their limited visits to Sincil Bank, to take their minds off the football.
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Town have only been to Sincil Bank three times in the last 60 years, since 1960, all three of these in the last three years, two of them ending in defeat.
There was a 5-3 defeat last season, in a League One fixture in December, 2019, a month after Alan Judge had scored a dramatic 90th minute winner for Town in an FA Cup tie.
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But they were on the wrong end of a late goal in January, 2017, when Nathan Arnold scored a last gasp goal in a 1-0 home win over Mick McCarthy’s men.
Whatever the result, though, the cathedral never fails to disappoint, in terms of a breathtaking view.
To mark this weekend’s visit to Lincoln City, in the shadow of that 12th century cathedral, here’s a run-down of some of the best views you can get from a Football League or Premier League stadium, at least in my humble experience.
1 SINCIL BANK (Lincoln City)
Sincil Bank has plenty of history, having been built in 1894 and been a home to Lincoln City since 1895, but it is no match for the cathedral towering in the distance, which was once considered to be the tallest building in the world for a blissful 237 years (1311 to 1548).
The Cathedral’s supposed claim to fame ended in 1548 when the central spire collapsed (so the building literally shrunk). Otherwise it would have retained its title until the construction of the Eiffel Tower in 1889.
Town’s first three visits were all during the 1950s, but none of them ended in victory. In fact, they didn’t record their first win (1-0) until the beginning of 1960 on their way to 11th spot in the old Second Division.
Sir Alf Ramsey’s men were promoted as champions the following season, which included a storming 4-1 win at Sincil Bank, and secured back-to-back titles by winning the First Division in 1961-62.
2 VICTORIA PARK (Hartlepool United)
You can’t beat a room with a view, or a view of the sea.
That’s just what you get from the press box at Hartlepool United, looking out over the North Sea towards the odd tanker inching along on the horizon (if you are lucky).
I have had many depressing afternoons in this press box, watching Colchester United lose while seeking solace in the dark and foreboding seas beyond, but Ipswich Town’s only visit was a successful one, a 2-0 win in an FA Cup replay in early 1992.
I’d like to say that the North Sea looked a picture that day but, alas, it was a cold, dark Wednesday evening in January when the view from the press box was limited.
For the record, Jason Dozzell and Simon Milton obliged with the goals.
3 ST JAMES’ PARK (Newcastle United)
Town have staged some fine late rallies at St James’ Park.
The view from the top of the stadium is awesome, looking out over the city and Tyne Bridge.
And I can recall a couple of visits when I have seen Town silence the St James’ Park faithful with late goals.
Back in the early days of the Premiership, in the autumn of 1994, Danish maestro Claus Thomsen bagged a late goal to secure a 1-1 draw after Andy Cole had put the Magpies ahead.
And there was an even later equaliser at the back end of the 2009-10 season, when Jonathan Walters netted a 90th minute leveller in a 2-2 draw, six minutes after Shola Amoebi had converted a penalty.
4 THE NEW DEN (Millwall)
This is probably my favourite of all press box views, looking out over the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf, from the rear of the Lions’ Den, Millwall’s home since 1993.
It’s one hell of a view, but it can be intimidating – the home fans make sure of that.
5 WHADDON ROAD (Cheltenham Town)
I end with a ground that Ipswich have not actually visited yet – one to look forward to, hopefully in a cup competition. Instead of cathedrals, financial districts or city skylines, Whaddon Road offers a soothing view of the Cotswolds, looking out towards Cleeve Hill. All those footy problems just melt away.