Tuesday, February 3, 1998 Published at 12:42 GMT
Football caterers get their just desserts
Norwich City may have premier cook Delia Smith on the board of directors but she is no match for the bacon butties served up at Cambridge United.
And that is just for starters. The taste of the Orient should be kicked firmly into touch and Wembley fare is just plain "awful", according to the new Colman's Football Food Guide which surveyed the standard of food served to fans at 93 grounds.
Researchers spent the first four months of the current season testing food at the 92 league grounds in England and Wales, plus Wembley.
But the study has come in for some criticism from Janet Williams, author of the 'Football Fan's Guide', a comparison of facilities at football grounds throughout the divisions.
Janet, a Cambridge United fan, said: "Their pies were rubbish when we surveyed them, whereas Leyton Orient supplied some of the best food."
According to the Colman's study, the lower division clubs dominate the football food league and some of the fiercest criticism is reserved for the national stadium at Wembley which is placed 89th in the table.
"The nation's showcase stadium epitomises everything that's wrong with food at football grounds in this country, an awful, over-priced eating experience," says the guide.
"We take all criticism on board and learn from it but to position Wembley like this is ridiculous," said the spokesman. "The food is not produced on a whim. It is based on extensive research. We believe that it provides good value."
Guide editor Jim White said: "Football food has always been a bit of a joke. All we wanted was good food, well-cooked and served quickly enough to allow us to catch most of the second half. But what we found was often depressingly bland, with some clubs' offerings unacceptably poor."
The guide says that food at Norwich's Carrow Road ground is "disappointing".
"Variety must be the spice of life but it's in short supply around Carrow Road. Burgers, burgers and more burgers are the principal offering from mobile vendors.
"Corporate facilities are reputedly good but the food on offer to the regular fan is rather more disappointing," the guide reports.
Delia Smith was unavailable for comment, but a spokeswoman said: "She is not responsible for the food. It is obviously an area she is very interested in but she has only been a director for just over a year. At the moment everyone at the club is very focused on the team."
Premiership champions Manchester United are the best-placed top division club in 12th place. Leeds are 31st, Arsenal 32nd, Newcastle 38th, Liverpool 41st, Chelsea 79th and Tottenham 86th.
Caterers at Cambridge United's Abbey Stadium were delighted to have seen off the cream of the Premiership.
Cambridge's catering manager, Carla Frediani, said the secret of the club's success was their bacon roll - described by the guide as a "spectacular high spot".
"We use best back bacon and put two rashers into each roll," she said.
"The other thing is the smell. If you cook bacon the smell just gets to everyone. I'm a vegetarian but even I get tempted."
Guide editor Mr White said: "By turning the spotlight on football food we hope to be able to effect the same improvements that Egon Ronay set in train when he assaulted British pub food ... and motorway service station offerings."