Date: 3rd August 2013
Match: Torquay - AFC Wimbledon 1-1 (League 2)
Attendance: 3 441
The 2013/14 season in England, at least in the Football League, starts a week earlier than usual. Combined with midweek matches in the first round of the League Cup this was good news for me. When fixtures were confirmed I made plans to visit 5 matches (4 new grounds) from Saturday to Wednesday. Having been to 64 of the 92 grounds before this season this was a good opportunity for me to close in on the magic 92 number. For the first three days I was going to be based in Birmingham and on Friday afternoon I boarded the SAS flight taking me from Copenhagen to Birmingham. Everything went smootly and shortly before 8pm I was at my hotel in central Birmingham. Birmingham New Street train station is being totally rebuilt and it was a bit confusing for a while. I've been to these parts alot which helped me finding the way to the hotel. Holiday Inn Birmingham City was a very nice hotel and after leaving my bags at my room I went down to the hotel bar. I had something to eat and drink and could watch the second half of Sheffield U vs Notts County on TV.
My first match on this trip was Torquay vs AFC Wimbledon in League 2. Having been both to Exeter and Plymouth Plainmoor in Torquay was my last remaining (92) ground in the far southwest of England. My train left Birmingham New Street 09.16 and 11.45 we arrived at Exeter St Davids where I changed to a local stoppage service taking me to towards Torquay. The train from Exeter was packed, mainly with football supporters, but I managed to get a seat. The journey from Exeter to Torquay was a very interesting one. The train slwoly moved across the coastline and the views this sunny day were really great. I left the train at Torre station, the nearest to the ground, and from there it was a 20-25 minute uphill walk to Plainmoor, the home of Torquay United. Plainmoor has a cpacity of 6 500 (2 950 seats) and the ground has two seated stands and two terraced stands. The new main stand, Bristow's Bench, was opened in 2012 and has a capacity of 1 750. The stand is elevated so even those in row 1 have a good view of the action on the pitch. I decided to stand in the Thatchers Popular Cider Terrace which is one of few remaining side terraces in England.
Although I wouldn't call myself a supporter of AFC Wimbledon it is a club I want to do well. I decided to stand at the ends they were attacking meaning I watched the first half from the right of the Thatchers Popular Cider Terrace. There were no goals scored in the first half though. Both teams had a couple of decent chances but it was 0-0 at half-time. During the half-time break I changed to the other end of the stand. Still no goals and I was preparing myself to leave Torquay without seeing a goal. AFC Wimbledon were backed by almost 800 fans this opening day. Around 600 of those were in the away terrace to my left. In the 88th minute the away end exploded into wild celebrations. Harry Pell's longe range shot was deflected into the back of the net, 1-0 to Wimbledon. Torquay didn't give up though and in the 93rd minute they manage to equalise. The match finished 1-1 and and I think Torquay should be pleased with that result.
After the match I then hurried back to Torre station in order to make the 17.22 train to Newton Abbot. The train never showed up and after a while a rumour was spreading that someone was standing on a bridge threating to jump. All trains between Torquay and Newton Abbot were cancelled. I was planning to be on the 18.03 train from Newton Abbot to Birmingham. Above all the last train from Newton Abbot was at 19.03 so I had to be in Newton Abbot before then. Luckily for me I spotted a local bus heading towards Newton Abbot and managed to find a bus stop. I was then in Newton Abbot 18.02 and just about made the 18.03 train! I realised I had been very lucky finding this local bus but sometimes you need to be lucky. The train was very crowded but I was back in Birmingham by 9pm. A long and eventful day came to an end.
View of Plainmoor
Welcome to Plainmoor!
Rear of the Away Terrace
Torquay fans eager to enter the ground
Torquay fans in the Popside Terrace
Celebrating Wimbledon fans
View of play
View of play