Saturday, 10 February 2018

Dover Athletic F.C. - Crabble Athletic Ground

Dover Athletic F.C.
Dover Athletic F.C.
Crabble Athletic Ground
Lewisham Road
CT17 0JB

Ground Number: 70
Date: Saturday 10th February 2018
Score: Dover Athletic F.C. 0-1 Sutton United F.C.
Competition: Vanarama National League
Attendance: 1,027

One of the teams that we have played a lot in the past few years has been Dover Athletic as we have played them 11 times since the start of the 2011/12 season and we have managed to win 3, draw 5 and lose 3 against them which is good in a way but those 5 draws aren't the best and seeing as out of those 11 games, it features a play off semi final loss and a 6-0 loss, it seems like our record since 2011 isn't the best but we would be able to try and make up a bit in a few weeks as we were playing Dover again.
Image result for dover athletic badge
Personally, Dover is a team I dread to play every season because they have a good team and ever since I have been watching Sutton on a regular basis (early 2013), I have never seen us beat Dover although we have beaten them since 2013, its just I wasn't at the game unfortunately. Weirdly I have always wanted to go to Dover because they have a really good ground for non-league and even though it isn't on my top 20 on my bucket list, it has been a ground I've wanted to visit and after 5 or so years, I am finally visiting the Crabble Athletic Ground.
The week running up to the game was actually a pretty good week overall because college wasn't that stressful and we didn't have that much work to do. Friday was the busiest day as we started a new assignment and it took us most of the day to do it. After finishing college at 4:20pm, I got a lift home from my friend Emma and then I had some dinner before going and getting my hair cut, doing some housework and then packing for my trip to New York on Sunday and I also had time to look into the history of Dover Athletic FC before going to bed at 11:30pm.
Dover Athletic F.C. were founded in 1983 after the dissolution of Dover FC. The club currently play in the Vanarama National League and they currently play their home game at the Crabble Athletic Ground which has a capacity of 5,745 and there are 1,500 seats. The club started out in the Southern League and then in 1993, they joined the Conference and then in 2002, they joined the Southern League again and in 2004, they joined the Isthmian League. In 2009, they were Isthmian League champions and were promoted to the Conference South and at the end of the 2013/14 season, they won promotion to the Conference Premier via the play-offs.

I woke up at 7am and then managed to get back to sleep for another hour or so then I had some breakfast and then checked my social media and then just before 9am, my friend Dean who also supports Sutton asked if we could give him a lift to the ground as he didn't have enough money for the train and we said he could come with us. My dad arrived just after 9am and we then drove to Carshalton to pick up Dean and then got onto the M25 then the M26 and then the M20 and it felt like we was doing Maidstone away again but we were going much further than Maidstone today.
We were quite ahead of schedule so we stopped in Folkestone services to get something to eat and I got a subway and Dean got a KFC and after finishing our early lunch, we got back in the car and drove the rest of the way to Dover and we then found somewhere not too far from the high street to park and then went in the Wetherspoons and Ryan and Johnnie were already there. I decided to get a Strongbow Dark Fruit and my dad got a larger shandy and then it was around 12pm and we decided to get something to eat and I obviously went for a English breakfast and my dad went for a cheese and ham panini. We was then joined by some of the other lads or `youth` as some of our fans like to call us who made the trip by train.
We then left Wetherspoons and then walked back to the car and then drove up the road to the ground and we found somewhere to park and then walked up and there was signs for away supporters but the gate was locked so we walked back and someone who works for the club came on a golf buggy and gave us a lift to the main entrance which was very nice of them and we then paid to get in and seeing as there is no concession rate, todays prices were £17 each which is a bit expensive. We then sat in the bar and watched the Tottenham vs Arsenal game and then was joined by Tony, his girlfriend and my friend Harry and then at about 2:10pm, we walked out and took some pictures of the ground.
The Crabble Athletic Ground has a capacity of 5,745 and there are 1,500 seats. The main stand runs the full length of the pitch on one side is a small covered all seated stand, comprising of five rows of seats. Opposite the Main Stand is the new Family Stand that was built in 2016. Running for half the length of the pitch, towards the Dover End, this new stand is a smart looking one. Having a capacity of 500 seats, this stand is covered. On one side there is an unusual looking security control box, which looks out onto the stadium, whilst below the control box is the player's tunnel.
On the other side of this Family Stand towards the River End, the ground is largely open, with just the clubhouse bar sitting in one corner. Both ends are similar looking covered terraces, that again have a number of supporting pillars. They are slightly unusual in that they are larger on one side than the other, as they have been built on a slope, which is evident from the pitch, which slopes up towards the Main Stand. (Description of Crabble Athletic Ground is sourced from Football Ground Guide).

I really do like this ground and it is quite well built up for a non league ground and is a very good ground for the National League and wouldn't look out of place in the lower tiers of the Football League. I do like the new main stand, it is quite unique looking and kind of looks like a spaceship. I do like the terracing behind both goal but it is a shame that the supporting pillars block your view and I do like the long seated stand and I think it is a decent touch to the ground.
After walking round the ground to take some pictures, we went and stood behind one of the goals to to watch the Sutton players warm up and then I tied my flag up. With around 20 minutes before kick off, we was joined by Dean, Taylor and Ryan and we had a chat about the coming game and we all agreed that if we could get at least a point today, we would be quite happy. The teams then came out and there was a roar from the 1,000 or so people inside the ground.
The first half kicked off and Dover had a shot at Jamie Butler within the first minute but Butler was on hand to keep it at 0-0. Sutton looked very strong in the first 20 minutes with us creating a lot of chances mainly from Cadogan and Wright and we looked very dangerous and we were awarded in the 26th when Cadogan's shot put Sutton 1-0 up and the travelling 100/150 Sutton fans went wild! Dover didn't really have anything to show for but they did create some chances and were unlucky not to equalise but we had dominated in chances and at half time, it was Dover Athletic 0-1 Sutton United.
Half time and we was winning 1-0 which I partially wasn't expecting and there was a very good vibe around all of the Sutton fans. Whilst walking round to the other terrace behind the goal, we stopped off at the tea bar and got something to eat and I went for a cheeseburger and a hot chocolate and I have to say that the cheeseburger didn't taste that good, the bun was nice but the meat wasn't very tasty and I think I am losing my taste for burgers. The hot chocolate was very tasty on the other hand and did weigh out the taste of the cheeseburger. We then walked round to the other terrace and then stood with the other Sutton fans and then there was another loud roar when both the teams came out.
The second half started and both Dover and Sutton were creating some good chances and we was unlucky not to score again but to be fair to Dover, they were unlucky not to equalise but Jamie Butler was in great form and was keeping us at 1-0 up. With 30 minutes left, my favourite player Harry Beautyman was sent off and we then felt like it was going to be one of them games but we managed to continue to create chances and within the last 15 minutes, Dover were quite dominative and were unlucky to equalise but it finished Dover Athletic 0-1 Sutton United.
We walked out of the ground feeling happy that we had finally visited the Crabble Athletic Ground but more happy that we had won the game. We got quite wet whilst walking back to the car but the journey back to South West London was a quiet one with the weather being terrible and my dad needing to concentrate on the road. We dropped Dean off home and then my dad dropped me off home at 7pm and I then did some more things for my trip to New York tomorrow before going to bed at 9:30pm.
Stadium: 8/10
Bar: 7/10
Food and Drink: 7/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Friendliness: 9/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Overall Rating: 7.7/10

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Wingate and Finchley F.C. - Maurice Rebak Stadium

Wingate and Finchley F.C.

Wingate and Finchley F.C.
Maurice Rebak Stadium
Summers Lane
N12 0PD

Ground Number: 70
Date: Tuesday 6th February 2018
Score: Wingate and Finchley F.C. 1-1 Tooting and Mitcham United F.C.
Competition: Bostik League Premier Division
Attendance: 111

After going to Brackley Town F.C. on Saturday, it was time go and visit another new ground and I was really keen to visit a new ground in mid-week before our trip to Dover Athletic on Saturday and there was only one local fixture on Tuesday night and that was Wingate and Finchley vs Tooting and Mitcham United and this game seemed very appealing seeing as I have wanted to go to Wingate and Finchley for the past few seasons but the only downside was they were playing against Tooting and Mitcham.
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I don't really have a hatred towards Tooting and Mitcham seeing as they are my most local club but I have recently seen them play when me and my dad visited Dorking Wanderers on Tuesday night just gone. I didn't really fancy watching Tooting and Mitcham again but they did show a good fight to stay in the league, so with them playing Wingate and Finchley who are 6th in the league, it might be a really good game. There are a few opportunities to tick off Wingate and Finchley this season but seeing as this was the only local game, we decided to just tick it off on the coming Tuesday night.
The week before the game was mainly spent at college like usual and I even managed to visit two new grounds as I visited Dorking Wanderers and you can read about that trip here and I also visited Brackley Town on Saturday and you can read about that trip here. Sunday was a more chilled day for me and my dad as we didn't wake up until 9am, watched some of MOTD and then headed to the pub for a drink, darts and a late lunch and that was about all we did on Sunday.
Monday was spent at home mainly chilling out doing some coursework that we started on Friday and I also did some little bits of pieces around the house and I also managed to buy some songs for my iPhone as I wanted some more songs for my trip to New York seeing as I cant use YouTube or any music apps on the plane. Tuesday morning arrived and I woke up at 7:30am and then had some breakfast and then did a little bit more coursework and then just before I left for college at 12:10pm, I quickly looked into the history of Wingate and Finchley FC.
Wingate and Finchley F.C. were founded in 1991 via the merger of Wingate FC and Finchley FC. The club currently play in the Bostik League Premier Division (England's 7th Tier) and they currently play their home games at the Maurice Rebak Stadium which has a capacity of 1,500 and there are around 400 seats. The club started out in the South Midlands League and in 1995, they joined the Isthmian League Division Three and the club had a couple of promotions and relegations in the 1990's. In 2004, they joined the Southern League East League and in 2006, they re-joined the Isthmian League Division One North and then in 2011, they were promoted to the Isthmian League Premier (now Bostik League Premier).
College was really chilled out today with us only having two lessons and it only consisted of a small bit of learning and the majority was typing up what we had learned. I finished college at 4:20pm and as I was walking out, my dad and Tony were there to meet me and we then drove up to South Wimbledon and then parked the car and walked up to South Wimbledon Station and by now, I had realised it was quite chilly but we were about to spent an hour on the tube so it didn't really matter that much.
We quickly topped up my Oyster Card with £5 and we then got on the tube and luckily enough, the destination of the tube was Finchley Central and that was exactly where we wanted to go so it seemed like TFL had organised this train especially for us but obviously they didn't! The tube was quite empty when we got on and I was quite bored so I read the Evening Standard which is rare because I rarely read and the only time I do read is at college or when I'm looking at a football programme. The tube started to get busy when we hit London Bridge but it is rush hour so we was expecting it and the tube did empty out as we started to reach the suburbs of North London. We arrived into Finchley Central at 6pm which was exactly an hour after we got on at South Wimbledon.
Once in Finchley High Street, we decided to try and find somewhere to eat seeing as we have over 90 minutes until the game, we found a KFC but they didn't have anywhere to sit down so we walked further up and found a burger/kebab type place and got burger and chips and then after finishing our dinner, we made the 20 minute walk to the Maurice Rebak Stadium and by now, it had gotten much colder. We arrived at the Maurice Rebak Stadium at 6:55pm and then paid to get in and today's admission prices were £12 for my dad and £6 for me and £2 for a programme, so £20 overall which for a Step 7 game is reasonable in my opinion. We then walked round the ground and took some pictures.
The Maurice Rebak Stadium has a capacity of 1,500 and there are around 400 seats. The ground is dominated by the unusual looking main stand which looks different to any other stand that I have seen and has a similar design to the stand at Walton Casuals as the stand is split into two as one side is in the football ground and on the other side is a rugby club and the stand has seats on the rugby club side as well. Opposite the main stand is a covered terrace that is located on the halfway line and is very narrow. Behind one of the goal is a small covered terrace that can hold around 100 people and behind the other goal is just flat standing.
I do like this ground, it does feel quite unique mainly down to the main stand and the ground feels historic even though the covered terrace behind the goal was installed fairly recently. I like the covered terrace opposite the main stand I do also like the uncovered end behind one of the goals but I feel like a covered terrace could be built where there is nothing behind one of the goals and maybe a terrace similar to the one at Imber Court / Metropolitan Police FC would look quite good at this ground.
After taking some pictures of this unique looking ground, we went in the bar as it was 0 degrees outside and I managed to get chatting to an old fella who told us a little about Wingate and Finchley and asked us where we came from and who we support. I also asked whether there was a club shop located on the premises and they said they didn't have any stock which was annoying as I wanted to get a pin badge but I left them my email so they can contact me. With about 10 minutes left before kick off, we headed back outside and then went and sat in the stand to get some pictures of the teams coming out and then the I got some pictures and then me and Tony went behind the goal that Wingate were kicking towards.
The first 15 minutes of the game was fairly even with no teams creating any chances and it felt like it was going to be one of those nights where you travel all that way to watch a 0-0. Things changed on the 16th minute when the ball was crossed into Tooting's box but the Wingate player could only deflect the ball just wide of the goal. Wingate then had a shot at the keeper on 21 mins and then 2 minutes later, Tooting hit the crossbar and then on 35 mins, Wingate shot at goal but went wide. Then just before half time, Wingate were awarded a free kick and they passed it along the ground and the ball got into the box and went in and it was 1-0 to Wingate and Finchley.
Half time and it was Wingate and Finchley 1-0 Tooting and Mitcham, the game so far hadn't really been anything special and just felt like a typical Tuesday night game. We headed back into the bar and my dad was already in there as he found it really cold, I then went and got my normal order of a cheeseburger and hot chocolate and it cost £5 which is quite reasonable and I was quite disappointed with the burger as I couldn't really taste the meat and the hot chocolate was a good cuop, nice and warm and flavour so not too bad. After finishing my hot chocolate, me and Tony went up to the stand and then the second half started.
The second half started quickly lively with Wingate creating a few chances in the first few minutes but Tooting and Mitcham were back in the game on 49 minutes when one of the Wingate players deflected the ball into his own net and it was 1-1 and the travelling 20 or so Tooting fans went wild. on 55 mins, Wingate had a header over the bar and then there wasn't anyother chances until 77 mins was Tooting had a shot on goal which was saved and then on 84 mins, Tooting headed the ball over the bar and on 89 mins, they had a shot over the bar and in the last minute. Wingate had a shot to win the game but the shot went straight at the keeper and it finished Wingate and Finchley 1-1 Tooting and Mitcham.
We walked out of the Maurice Rebak Stadium mainly feeling cold but feeling quite happy because we saw a good game of football and I managed to visit another new ground, its a ground nearer to my 100 target and it is another ground within the M25 visited, so tonight was a success! We walked back into Finchley itself and then got the 13 bus a few stops back to Finchley Central seeing as it was freezing and mainly because it was due in 1 minute. We managed to get straight on a tube heading to Kennington and I listened to some music to past the time and we then changed at Kennington and got the tube to South Wimbledon, walked back to the car, dropped Tony off and then got back to my dad's house at 11:20pm.
I enjoyed my trip to the Maurice Rebak Stadium, it is a decent ground for the 7th Tier, very friendly but the downside is there isn't any atmosphere except for a couple of kids banging a drum annoyingly and singing and the rest of the fans behind the goal don't even join in but the Tooting fans were decent for the number of fans that did travel. The food isn't the best either but the stadium and friendliness does outweigh the atmosphere and food!

Stadium: 8/10
Bar: 7/10
Food and Drink: 7/10
Atmosphere: 5/10
Friendliness: 9/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Overall Rating: 7.2/10

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Brackley Town F.C. - St James Park

Brackley Town F.C.
Brackley Town F.C.
St James Park Stadium
Churchill Way

Ground Number: 69
Date: Saturday 3rd February 2018
Score: Brackley Town F.C. 3-1 Sutton United F.C.
Competition: FA Trophy 3rd Round
Attendance: 767

One competition that I really love is the FA Trophy because we (Sutton United) generally get drawn against teams that I haven't seen before and get to go to new grounds and see different teams and it can be a really exciting competition because over the years, I have seen us play teams like Worthing and Curzon Ashton and it really is interesting seeing as I have never seen Sutton play teams like Curzon Ashton.
So far, we have done quite well in the FA Trophy as we have narrowly beaten National League South side Truro City 1-0 and beaten Bostik Premier side Hendon FC 3-0 and up next we had Barrow or Brackley away and Brackley beat Barrow in the 2nd Round Replay so it was a trip to St James Park for us and to be honest, I was really glad that Brackley had beaten Barrow because we our trip to Barrow last week in the Vanarama National League was postponed when we got there so we went to Lancaster City FC instead and you can read about it here.
Another reason why I was happy that Brackley had beaten Barrow was because Brackley was one of the teams that I wanted to try and visit over the next 3 seasons and now I would be able to visit them this season and it would be another ground ticked off and another ground nearer to my 100 target! The Saturday before the game was spent up in Barrow but the game was postponed when we goit there so we went to Lancaster City FC instead and I spent the rest of the week at college and mainly getting things ready for my trip to New York in a just over a week which kept me busy.
The week running up to the game was obviously spent at college and the week seemed to go really slowly seeing as we was starting quite a few more assignments seeing as we had now entered our second semester of the year and that means new units and of course with new units, comes new assignments. Tuesday and Wednesday were both boring and good because we were doing some actual learning as well as starting our new assignments.
Thursday and Friday were much longer as we spent both days learning and obviously when you are sitting down writing all day, the day does drag but I just got on with it like I normally do and I was enjoying some of it. I finished college at 3:30pm and then got the train home with my friend Emma and then I got off at Mitcham Junction and then got the tram and bus and was home by 4:15pm. I then had some dinner and watched some old episodes of `Britain's Busiest Airport' and then looked into the history of Brackley Town F.C. before I went to bed at 11pm.
Brackley Town F.C. were founded in 1890 and currently play in the Vanarama National League North (England's 6th Tier). They currently play their home games at St James Park which has a capacity of 3,500 and there are 507 seats. The club started out in the Oxfordshire Senior League and continued to play in local district leagues until 1977. In 1977, they joined the Hellenic League and since then and 2004, they have mainly played in the Hellenic League but did have a shor spell in the United Counties League. They joined the Southern League Western Division in 2004 and in 2006, they were placed in the Midlands League Division 1 and were quickly promoted to the Midlands League Premier. They won the Southern League Premier in 2012 and were promoted to the Conference North and that is where they still remain today.
I originally woke up at around 4am for some reason but I managed to get myself back to sleep and I was then woken up at 8am by my alarm and spent time on my phone like I normally do every morning and then got my things ready for tonight seeing as I am staying round my dad's again as it is a little bit easier. My dad arrived at 9am and we quickly had a cup of tea and then we left my house at 9:45am and drove to my nan's and my Uncle Ben was already there. We then chose to take two cars (my nan's and my uncles) as there is no point in taking 3 cars and we of course were in Ben's car.
We set the SatNav for Brackley Town F.C. and then left my nan's at 10:10am and then drove up the A3 to Weybridge and got on the M25 and then joined the M40 at Heathrow Airport and by then we had heard rumours that there was a pitch inspection at 11am so we decided to take it easy as we didn't want to get there and it being postponed. Luckily enough, the pitch passed the inspection but the referee had planned another one at 12:30pm and we then drove to Cherwell Valley Services and got something to eat and to wait and see whether the pitch passed the final inspection.
Me and Ben went for a Burger King and my dad, nan and granddad got a KFC and we then checked Twitter and the game was on and we then received a call that my cousin Sam and his partner were having a baby which was great news! We then got back in the car and continued our journey to Brackley and we arrived at the ground at 1pm on the spot and then found somewhere to park and then walked up to the ground. We was then greeted by the two car park stewards and we had a quick chat about our journey up to Northamptonshire.
We then paid to get in and today's admission prices were £12 for my dad and £3 for me (student) which is very reasonable for an FA Trophy game. We then went in the bar and it is very large and has a dart board but unfortunately we weren't allowed to use it. We then got something to drink and my dad and Ben got a coffee and I got some kind of cider but I didn't really like it as it wasn't a flavoured cider like Kopparburg or Old Mout. My nan and granddad then came in and they had quickly gone up to the Mercedes F1 place just by the ground and they had alcoholic drinks as well but I cant remember what they were.
We was then joined by the supporters who had travelled up on the supporters coach and then our friend Terry arrived and he had a sausage bap and it looked really nice so I went and got myself one and for £3, it was alright, the sausages weren't the tastiest but the bun was really nice. We then sat down in the bar and finished our drinks and then Ben went to the club shop and he came back with a Brackley Town FC scarf which he puts in his collection and he also got me a Brackley Town FC pin badge for £3 which was very nice of him! We then went outside and walked round the ground and took some pictures.
St James Park has a capacity of 3,500 and there are 507 seats. On one side in front of the Social Club building is a small seated area, that is covered. It is situated to one side of the half way line, towards the Cricket Club End. There are also open standing areas to either side. The opposite side has no facilities for spectators, apart from a narrow pathway which runs along the perimeter fence. The Cricket Club End itself has a very small covered terrace which sits behind the goal. To either side there are small flat standing areas. This area was recently developed so that it has a covered seated stand behind the goal flanked by fair sized open terracing to either side. The ground is completed with a set of six modern floodlight pylons. (Description of St James Park is sourced from Football Ground Guide).

I do like this ground, it has a true non-league feeling to it and I like the main stand in particular and how it doesn't dominate the rest of the ground. I do like the small covered terrace behind one of the goal and it does feel more like a bus stop rather than a terrace at a football ground but I do like it. For me, the centre piece of the ground is the seated terrace and standing terraces on either side of the stand, it is something I do like and doesn't ruin the overall look of the ground.
After taking some pictures of the ground, we went and stood in the small covered terrace behind the goal and then had a chat with Tony and his girlfriend and also watched the Sutton players warm up. When the teams went back into the changing rooms, I spent some time updating my social media and then when the teams came out, I got some pictures to add to my collection and there was a roar from the 700 or so people inside St James Park. Sutton were kicking towards the other goal so we had to walk round to the other seated stand.
The game kicked off and as soon as the ball started moving you could see why the pitch needed a pitch inspection and we could all see that the game shouldn't have gone ahead! Sutton started the first half with confidence and were definitely looking like the side in the league above and the first real chance came in the 12th minute via Craig Dundas. Then on 28 minutes, Brackley take the lead from a corner and the 600 or so Brackley fans went wild! From that point, Brackley seemed to get much stronger and you could start to see why they were unbeaten at home and on 39 minutes, one of thr Sutton players pulled a Brackley player and they were awarded a penalty which they scored and the scored remained 2-0 until half time.
Half time and it was Brackley Town 2-0 Sutton United, I wasn't expecting to be 2-0 down at half time because we had dominated the majority of the first half and had created chances but they weren't that dangerous but since Brackley had gotten the opening goal, they did get stronger. We changed ends and then once back in the small covered terrace behind the goal, I updated my social media and checked my messages and by the time I had done all that, the teams were coming back out.
The second half started and Sutton didn't get a lot of time to get back into the game as Brackley scored once again in the 56th minute and it seemed like game over and we were all drowning in our sorrows behind the goal because we were getting balls into the box but the Brackley players were just too strong and physical and nothing was going our way but when we substituted on Adam Coombes and Tom Bolarinwa, the game changed and we looked a bit more confident and we did manage to get one consolation goal in the 89th minute via Tommy Wright but we didn't get anything else to try push on and make it 3-2 and it finished Brackley Town 3-1 Sutton United.
We headed out of the ground feeling disappointed that we didn't even get a replay but then we did know it was going to be a tough challenge with a unplayable pitch and being away from home against at team that are unbeaten at home. We weren't angry because we knew that we could now fully focus on our promotion push in the league and we still had the Surrey Senior Cup. Once back in our cars, we drove back to South West London with me mainly updating my social media again and listening to music and we got back to my nan and granddad's house at 6:45pm and me and my dad stayed at my nans and had a hot drink and then drove back to my dad's and got back at 7:30pm.
I did enjoy my trip to Brackley Town FC, they were quite friendly and the ground was also quite good but the atmosphere from the Brackley fans was a bit plastic with them singing the 'we love you' song that they've copied off Crystal Palace and they were also singing 'don't take me home' when they are playing at home and it made their fans behind the goal seem a bit silly because they obvisouly didn't know that they were playing at home. I would recommend going there if you live within a 2 hour drive of the ground but I don't think it would be worth it of you had to drive for over 2 and a half hours for this ground.
Stadium: 7/10
Bar: 8/10
Food and Drink: 7/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Friendliness: 9/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Overall Rating: 7.7/10