Sunday 5 July 2020

92 Lego Football Grounds: An Interview With The Master Builder

Creating models seems to be a rite of passage for many us – Lego bricks being a particularly favourite building material. Whilst there are a plentiful supply of old and new sets that can be purchased to build a pre-defined model, the true creativity of Lego is the way in which something completely new can be created from a bucket of bricks. For us football lovers, the stadium of our team would be one of the first things we aim to build – but imagine being creative, patient and skilful enough to build the grounds of every team?

Wembley Stadium - In Lego!

In the latest Q&A with a creative football fan, I chatted to Jules, a Cardiff City supporter who decided to build the 92 grounds of the English (and Welsh!) professional clubs in Lego, completely from scratch. Armed with a bucket of bricks and his own wits, the detail in these models is quite something and he’s rightly been lauded for his efforts. After building his models, he sells them to supporters of the clubs – ensuring they go to a good home and not back in the brick box!

I asked Jules about his process, his favourite models, the positive effects of Lego building and whether he takes precautions against brick-related injuries… 

Hi Jules, let’s start with the obvious question – what inspired you to build the 92 stadiums out of Lego? 

I saw some people’s attempts at Lego grounds and thought I'd have a go. I built Cardiff City Stadium and when a friend said "you should do them all" after building about 6 different grounds (Hillsborough, Carrow Road and Wigan were a few of them), I thought he was mad but I started to order more Lego and it just took off from that point. 

Lego obviously has a presence in many a person’s childhood. In the last few decades more people seem to be carrying the hobby into adulthood – is this the case for you? 

Yeah I think so. I played with Lego as a boy and never lost interest in it. But for many years didn’t go near it as in my eyes it was too expensive.  A lot of Lego I started using was up in the loft and gathering dust so at least it came into use. 

Wigan Athletic - DW Stadium - In Lego!

How important can Lego be in providing that literal building block between different generations, say between a parent (who has those fond memories of building their sets) and their own child? 

I think that's really important and if parents share what they used and played with when younger it's great then for that child to see that. By using the same toy, they can produce anything and build things they see now compared to what their parents may of seen and have been used to. A car back in the day is very different to one now, for example. 

I’ve read about how ‘brick therapy’ is used as a thinking, social and calming activity for children (specifically for those who have developmental disorders). Even as an adult, do you find building Lego models to be therapeutic? 

Absolutely! I was building pretty much most evenings when not at work or on my days off and I said to many people it was very therapeutic (although it could be stressful at times!) Lots of people have many hobbies and this was my only one, and it was rewarding when seeing some pictures & comments of how happy people were with their builds. But yes, very therapeutic and a calming way to relax after a stressful day at work.

Wolves - Molineux - In Lego!
Lincoln City - Sincil Bank - In Lego!

How do you plan each model? Do you just look at pictures and play around with the bricks, or do you make use of tech to colour-in and map out where you place each brick? 

I have never used any of the technology, I have seen others use it to plan builds. Literally Google Street View, Google aerial shots and any pictures I could look at. When I did a Turf Moor for someone he sent me pictures of the whole perimeter of the ground through the post. But yeah study the ground, inside and out of it. Looking for detail around the ground like programme outlets, or statues etc. Write down roughly what bricks and pieces I need and then order what I need.  

Which Lego stadium (aside from Cardiff’s!) are you most proud of, and why? 

Yeah the Cardiff City one as you say is my fave and not my first attempt cos the most recent one I did was much better. Either Ninian Park which obviously is Cardiff's old home but as a ballboy there for 7 seasons it brings back great memories. Apart from those I would say Burnley which I enjoyed doing because the detail of the ground, in particular the back of the stadium, I didn't think would be possible. Also Molineux I would say which again is a quirky ground in places  but again thankfully I was able to replicate it well and I would say I'm most proud of those two particular builds.  Nottingham Forest also was a personal fave.

Turf Moor - Burnley FC - In Lego
Ninian Park - Cardiff City - In Lego

Which of the stadiums were the most straightforward and the most difficult to build? 

Most straightforward one I would say was AFC Wimbledon. The toughest I would say was Huddersfield’s John Smith Stadium, Molineux, Upton Park & Chelsea. Huddersfield has curved roofs like Fleetwood and Brighton but that was deffo one of the toughest parts of that Huddersfield build. Chelsea was the 3-tier stand and the surrounding hotels and exterior was also tough. 

What’s your favourite (official) Lego set to build? 

You may be surprised but I have never built a big Lego set. Had a few in the past but smaller ones. I would say, although I've never built them, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament would be good ones. 

Gluing the bricks together to maintain a model’s structure – good idea or sacrilege? 

I would say sacrilege. I never glued any of my builds as I was never able to source the glue. Normal glue would ruin the bricks, which made it tricky in terms of sending them, so I never did. I've always drove them to people or met up. The first model I did for someone [was sent to them] and obviously it fell apart. But I drove to his and fixed it in a few hours.  

And finally, how many Lego bricks have you stepped on over the years? 

A few! Thankfully not as many as I have laminate floor so could hear them fall. I did sit on a mini build I did for someone once forgetting it was on the chair! 

Thanks to Jules for answering my questions and for providing these excellent photos. You can follow his progress on Twitter @CCFC_jules


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