Aston Villa, Celtic, Everton, Middlesbrough, Leicester City, Manchester City, West Bromwich Albion and last but certainly not least, Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Just a few English and Scottish grounds that come to mind that I’ve visited during my time with TNS as Academy tournaments, behind-closed-doors friendlies, and even a pre-game training session have given me access to places that ordinarily I would never have been able to take in.
I’ve enjoyed all of them and especially so the latest one that is added to the list. Rangers. Ever since I was a young football-mad boy growing up in the sixties, the Ibrox-based club has always been my Scottish team.
During our Irn-Bru Cup game against St Mirren last season, from the hotel window the stadium was visible, so on the last day, along with Gregg Jones and Andy Wycherley, we went on a walk around the ground.
Although it was deserted, nevertheless it was great to finally see the stadium in the flesh, as it were. I took some photos, including the obligatory (in my case) selfie, that appeared as my personal Facebook and Twitter profile pictures for a while.
Last week though, on our pre- Champions League camp north of the English border, I went one better as TNS played Rangers in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Scottish giants’ training ground.
Sometimes you get mostly youngsters or perhaps the odd first-team player that feature in these type of games. However, as I made my way through the corridors and then out to the pitches area, the first person I spotted was Kenny Miller. Then Niko Kranjcar. Then Martyn Waghorn.
As Rangers, like TNS, we’re facing upcoming European games of their own, they were also taking the game seriously. I thoroughly enjoyed it and especially the 1-1 result, which shows that we can more than compete at that level.
The Rangers’ media team were great, everyone was very welcoming and it was brilliant to be there. I would never have imagined this four years ago, never mind back to when I was a young boy.
I wonder what the next team will be that I will add to the list? I don’t know, but in the meantime it’s Champions League, so I’m looking forward to that first.
Stewart Bloor – Media & Communications Officer
Rev’s Ramblings is a weekly insight into my involvement with TNS, from a personal blog perspective.