Football: A tasteful study from bacon butties to venison burgers on the Orient Excess

For some, the prospect of whether or not they should eat at a match weighs heavily on the mind, if not the stomach. Catherine Riley reports on a new survey into the fare on offer in and around football grounds.

Everyone has their own favourite horror story of match-day food; there's the burger that came with a fingernail, another one with a tooth already in it and the kebab containing a maggot, served by the vendor who urinated against a wall and then went back to serving food without washing his hands.

Now, with a copy of Colman's Football Food Guide tucked into their back pocket, fans can follow their team around the country secure in the knowledge that they can find somewhere to eat without needing to take along a stomach pump.

As jobs go, a food taster for Egon Ronay or Michelin has a certain appeal, but sampling the food on offer around the 92 League clubs, as well as Wembley, has to be a labour of love. The testers came back with only 15 stomach upsets and 27 burnt fingers between them, having consumed 323 pies, 291 burgers and one balti pie at Walsall.

Surprisingly, the finest food in the League is not to be found in the Premiership, but in the Third Division. Cambridge United took the honours for their all-round catering - the highlight being the bacon butty. The secret, apparently, is in using two slices of best back bacon, grilled for optimum nose-appeal.

For all its money, the Premiership is poorly represented, with just four clubs in the top 20. Manchester United heads the list in 12th, with a special commendation for the van behind the Old Stretford End which sells venison burgers.

England's plans to host the World Cup in 2006 may have been damaged by the placing of the national stadium in 89th. Last May, Tony Banks, minister for sport, said: "The food at Wembley is absolutely disgraceful. I'm surprised more people don't die of food poisoning after eating there." Rebuilding a stadium which charges over pounds 6 for a "tasteless" burger, chips and Coca-Cola is the only option.

Life is not much better for Welsh supporters. Cardiff City, Wrexham and Swansea City are all in the bottom 10. The Vetch Field was noted for its sausage roll, in which the sole purpose of the skin of the sausage was "to prevent the contents from flowing free".

Vegetarians are less well served, crisps being the safest bet - assuming you have ever heard of the manufacturer and they are still within their sell-by date.

Whereas the pies and burgers were generally found to be lukewarm, hot drinks come on the warmer side of scalding. Most are helpfully served in plastic cups that melt in the hand around three seconds after leaving the counter, forcing the purchaser to suffer third-degree burns or drop the contents over their legs. At some grounds, this is the warmest your feet will ever get. On the cold - or tepid - front, Arsenal have stockpiled the type of orange drink which was only ever found in cinemas 20 years ago.

In the taste test, hot chocolate is the best approximation you are likely to find, assuming you can stir the inch of sludge at the bottom of the cup into life. Ditto the beef-flavour drink. Let us hope we never become a nation of litigators - McDonald's "scalding coffee" case may set the benchmark for a million damages claims.

Sadly, "Who ate all the pies" is something that may never be heard at Brisbane Road. Leyton Orient get the dubious honour of coming bottom of the food league. The editor of their fanzine All Aboard the Wagon Train sums it up as "I've had better meat from live cows with BSE." Take sandwiches.

TASTY: THE TOP TEN

1 Cambridge United

2 Huddersfield Town

3 Rochdale

4 Chesterfield

5 Charlton Athletic

6 Hartlepool United

7 Rotherham United

8 Middlesbrough

9 Stoke City

10 Preston North End

YUK: THE worst TEN

1 Leyton Orient

2 Swansea City

3 Bristol City

4 Wrexham

5 Wembley

6 Oxford United

7 Chester City

8 Tottenham Hotspur

9 Peterborough United

10 Cardiff City

Suggested Topics
News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
life
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
football
News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?