Friday, 14 September 2018

Bristol Rovers

Bristol Rovers v Luton Town
Sky Bet League Two
Memorial Stadium
Saturday 2nd January 2016
3pm

Journey Time to the ground: 1 hours 30 minutes.  We left Newbury at 1pm and after a short stop at Leigh Delamere services we managed to find some street parking on Church Road which is off the main Gloucester Road.

The ground was about a 5 minute walk from Church Road, along Gloucester Road before turning down Filton Avenue.

Ticket Price: £16

Programme Price: £3

This was my first visit to the Memorial Stadium and as a fairly local ground, one I had been looking forward to doing for quite a while.  We had tickets in the High Spec North Terrace which was where the bulk of the home fans congregated.  The covered terrace was pretty full, but we managed to make our way down toward the front and found some space to stand and also an unrestricted view of the pitch.

To the left of the High Spec North Terrace is the Dribuild East stand. This consists of uncovered terracing that runs the length of the pitch, then an upper tier of covered seating which runs for half the length of the pitch and straddles the half-way line called the Uplands Stand.  This stand is shared with away supporters, with them in the uncovered terracing closest to the South Stand and houses the dug-outs.  The South Stand is a temporary, covered seated stand which runs for just over half the width of the pitch, and is shared between home and away fans.  Opposite the East Stand is the West Stand which runs half the length pitch and straddles the half-way line.  This stand is the main stand with terracing to the front and seated hospitality areas to the rear and has and electronic scoreboard on it's roof.  To the right side of the West Stand is a small, temporary, covered, all-seated stand known as the South West Stand and to the left side of the West Stand, towards the High Spec North Terrace is the small covered Family Terrace.

Bristol Rovers thought they had taken the lead in the first-half when Ollie Clarke raced through and slotted past Mark Tyler only to see the lineman flag for offside.

The deadlock was broken on the hour mark when Rory Gaffney fired in from six yards after Tom Lockyer has seen his header cleared off the line.  Gaffney grabbed his second and secured the three points in the 72nd minute slotting in the rebounded after Tyler had fumbled his initial effort.  The home fans went home happy as the result lifted their team up to fifth in the table.

Attendance: 9,131 with 707 Luton fans.

Atmosphere:  The atmosphere was very good.  The Bristol Rovers fans in the High Spec North Terrace were particularly loud through-out the game and the club anthem Goodnight Irene rang out once they were in front.  It really reminded me of being back at football when I was younger.

Journey Time home: 1 hour 30 minutes.  We stopped at the Brazilian Lounge on Gloucester Road to have some food so didn't end up leaving til about 6pm and were comfortably back in Newbury by 7:30pm.

I enjoyed my trip to Bristol Rovers.  The game was good, the atmosphere was very good and standing on terracing reminded me of what it was like to go to football as a child.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Derby County

Derby County v Reading
Sky Bet Championship
The iPro Stadium
Saturday 2nd May 2015
12:15pm

Journey Time to the ground: 2 hours 30 minutes.  We left Newbury bright and early at 9am and despite some traffic on the A52, we parked up in the Wyvern car park at a cost of £6 at 11:30am.

The ground was about a 5 minute walk from the Wyvern car park through a retail and industrial park.
Ticket Price: £31

Programme Price: £3

This was my first visit to the newly christened iPro Stadium and it was a ground that I had been looking forward to visiting.  We were sat in the South East corner of the Stadium. The view from the section was good and there was more than enough leg room.

To the left of the South East corner is the South stand which was single tiered and where the majority of the vociferous home support seemed to congregate.  The North Stand is opposite this, an identical single tiered stand for home fans.  To the right of the South East corner is the single tiered East Stand again for home fans.  Opposite is the taller Toyota West Stand.  This is the main stand housing hospitality areas and the team dug-outs and is the only two-tiered stand at the iPro.  As this stand is taller the roof slopes down at both ends.
This was the last game of a rather forgettable league campaign for Reading and as such was the club's annual inflatables day.  Derby on the other hand were sitting in sixth and with a superior goal difference knew that a point would guarantee a play-off spot.  The home end was sold-out and the game had been picked to be shown live on Sky.

The home fans were expectant and in party mood, but the Reading players hadn't read the script.  We were ahead within two minutes when Crystal palace loanee Kwesi Appiah grabbed his only goal for the club, seizing on a poor pass before running through on goal and slotting in a neat finish.  Derby had the chance to equalise from the penalty spot when Jordan Obita was adjudged to have brought down Jonny Russell in the box.  Darren Bent stepped up but his spot-kick was well saved by Adam Federici   

Into the second-half and we doubled our lead, when Michael Hector slammed in a shot after poor Derby defending from a corner.  We were awarded a penalty of our own in the last 10 minutes when Jem Karacan was brought down by keeper Lee Grant.  Up stepped Garath McCleary to send to keeper the wrong way, the Reading fans home happy and the Derby fans into depression.

Attendance: 30,806 with 685 Reading fans.

Atmosphere:  The atmosphere was very, very good.  The Derby fans turned up for a party that didn't happen, however they were very loud and stuck with them team through-out the game.  This helped to create an excellent atmosphere that was helped by the small band of away fans with inflatables who had turned up to have a party of their own. 

Journey Time home: 3 hours 30 minutes.  We had a look around the retail park and some KFC before we set off home.  The journey was pretty straight forwarded although it took longer than the journey there.  We stopped at Tamworth services on the way down and arrived home at 6pm. 
I really enjoyed my trip to Derby.  The atmosphere was amazing, the ground was a good size and we spoilt the party!  The way we played was the best that I have seen us play for a long time.  It's just a shame that it's the last game of the season, although it does give me hope for a decent season next campaign.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Wembley

Reading v Arsenal
The FA Cup
Wembley Stadium
Saturday 18th April 2015
5:20pm

Journey Time to the ground: 2 hours 15 minutes.  We left Newbury at 11am and drove to my parents house in Reading before making our way up to High Wycombe.  We then jumped on the train from High Wycombe to Wembley Stadium.  As we arrived about four hours before kick-off, we went to get some lunch Moulin Grill then had a look around the London Designer Outlet for a couple of hours before entering the ground about an hour before kick-off.

The ground was about a 5 minute walk from Wembley Stadium station.
 
Ticket Price: £33

Programme Price: £5

This was my eighth visit to the new Wembley and the second time I had seen Reading play there.  We were sat in the Upper Tier of the East Stand at around the level of the corner flag.  The Upper Tier is tier five and although it is a long way back from the pitch, the view of the playing action is good.  The leg room is good, although the seats are slightly uncomfortable as they seem to slope downwards. 

Wembley Stadium is the only five tiered ground that I know of, however the North Stand is the only stand which has the fourth tier.  Opposite the East Stand is the West Stand, which is identical to the East Stand and includes a large television screen built in between the third and fifth tiers.  The two side stands, the North Stand and the South Stand are almost identical to each other with a larger upper tier than either of the ends behind the goal.  The North Stand is the main stand, with the players' tunnel and dug-outs. There are large hospitality areas running between the lower and upper tiers running around the whole of the ground.  The stadium feels huge inside, especially when sat towards the back of the upper tier.
 
This was Reading's first FA Cup Semi-Final since 1927 and having never made an FA Cup final, and being rank outsiders, the majority of Reading fans travelled in the hope of not being embarrassed and being able to enjoy the day.  The first-half was as expected with Arsenal dominating possession and creating a lot of chances.  Reading managed to hold out until five minutes before half-time when Alexis Sanchez finished smartly to give Arsenal the lead.

I was worried that the goal so close to half-time would have broken Reading's spirit, but if anything the opposite was true.  Reading seemed to sense there was an opportunity to make something of the game, and equalised 10 minutes into the second-half.  Pavel Pogrebnyak managed to get the ball across the box and Garath McCleary was on hand at the back-post to volley in, a goal that was given by the hawk-eye system.  I have never celebrated as nuchas I did that equaliser!  There seemed to be belief within the team and although Aaron Ramsey hit the post for Arsenal, the game finished 1-1 and headed into extra-time.

Into the first period of extra-time came the moment that broke Reading hearts.  In added time at the end of the first-half of extra-time Adam Federici, who had been magnificent all game, let Alexis Sanchez's tame effort slip underneath his body, through his legs and roll over the goal-line.  Reading tried to find a second equaliser in the second-half of extra-time, but ultimately come up slightly short.

Attendance: 84,081 with 30,963 Reading fans.

Atmosphere:  The atmosphere was good.  I have never heard noise like it when we scored our equaliser.  However I don't think the acoustics at Wembley are that good.  The ground seems too big to generate a really decent atmosphere as the sound seems to get lost in the bowl and it is difficult for chants to be co-ordinated between the upper and lower tier.

Journey Time home: 2 hours 30 minutes.  There was quite a long wait at Wembley Stadium station to get the train back up to High Wycombe.  Once at High Wycombe we drove back to my parents' house in Reading to pick up the car before driving back to Newbury.  We got back into Newbury at around 10:30pm in time to get a KFC before it closed! 
 
Overall, I enjoyed my trip to Wembley, if not the result.  It was a long day, with it being the late kick-off and also arriving so early to soak up the atmosphere.  I have never seen Reading win at Wembley and it is a horrible place to lose, but I have never been more proud of my team as I was at the final whistle.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Swindon Town

Swindon Town v Peterborough United
Sky Bet League One
The County Ground
Saturday 11th April 2015
3pm

Journey Time to the ground: 30 minutes.  We left the house just after 2pm and a straight forward journey saw us parked up in the Carlton Car Park which cost £1 for the afternoon.

The ground was around a 10 minute walk from the car park.
 
Ticket Price: £19

Programme Price: £3

This was my third visit to the County Ground.  We were sat in the Town End, a small, single-tiered covered, all-seated stand behind the goal, where the majority of the vocal home support sat.  The leg room was adequate and the view from the seats was good although there were a couple of pillars that partly obscured some of the pitch.  

The County Ground is a good sized, all-seated ground.  To the left of the Town End is the Arkells Stand, a single tiered main stand which had the dug-outs situated at the front of it.  This stand is shared with away fans.  Opposite the Arkells Stand is the Don Rogers stand, another single tiered stand which runs the length of the pitch.  Opposite the Town End is the all-seated, uncovered Stratton Bank Stand which is largely unused unless there is a particularly large away following.  This end also has the only Rolex clock found at any football ground in the world.   
 
Both sides had a realistic chance of making the play-offs with Swindon sat in third and Peterborough six points outside the top six, so both sides were pushing for a win.  The best chance of the first-half went to Swindon who were awarded a penalty in the 28th minute when Jonathan Obika went down under pressure from Michael Smith.  Andy Williams smashed his spot-kick against the bar and the half ended 0-0.
 
The second half was a fairly even contest with both sides restricted to long range efforts.  The home fans were growing frustrated but finally had something to cheer about in the 71st minute when substitute Jermaine Hylton grabbed the only goal of the game slotting in from just inside the box with one of his first touches of the game.  

Attendance: 7,126 with 285 Peterborough fans.

Atmosphere:  The atmosphere was pretty good.  There was a lot at stake for both teams and the Swindon fans in the Town End certainly kept singing for the whole 90 minutes.

Journey Time home: 45 minutes.  After a short 10 minute walk back to the car, we were on our way.  There was very little traffic and we were home before 6pm.

I enjoyed my trip to Swindon.  The weather was pleasant and the atmosphere in the Town End was very good.   With both teams evenly matched and pushing for a win, the game was entertaining and a Swindon win was probably the right result on the balance of play.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Oxford United

Oxford United v York City
Sky Bet League Two
Kassam Stadium
Monday 6th April 2015
3pm

Journey Time to the ground: 45 minutes.  We went via a detour at a car boot sale in Abingdon, so ended up leaving the house at 9am.  We were up in Abingdon by 9:30am.  We looked around the car boot sale and got some lunch, eventually leaving Abingdon at 1:15pm.  We were parked up in Grenoble Road by 1:30pm.  The parking on Grenoble Road is free and around a 10 minute walk to the ground.
 
Ticket Price: £18

Programme Price: £3

This was my second visit to the Kassam Stadium.  We were sat in the Oxford Mail East Stand which is a single tiered stand behind the goal.  We were a few rows from the front, in line with the crossbar, and the view was good and leg room ample.  

The most unusual things about the Kassam Stadium is that it only has three separate stands.  Opposite the East Stand at the West End is a fence!  To the left of the East Stand was the South Stand, which was two tiered and housed the dug-outs.  Opposite the East Stand was the North Stand, a single tiered stand that is shared with away fans.  Overall the ground felt very open and exposed which was lovely for us on a hot, sunny day, but I can imagine is very cold during the winter.
 
With both sides scrapping for survival towards the bottom of League Two, the first half was largely uneventful with both sides struggling to create any clear-cut chances.
 
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first half.  Danny Rose had the best chance of the game, but volleyed wide from Pat Hoban's left wing cross.  The game finished 0-0, a fair result for both sides.

Attendance: 9,406 with 422 York City fans.

Atmosphere:  The atmosphere was fairly quiet.  The home fans sat in the Oxford Mail East Stand with us attempted to get an atmosphere going, however with the ground being so open, any noise was lost the the elements.

Journey Time home: 50 minutes.  After a short wait in traffic to get away from the ground, we were soon down the A34 and sat in the Burger King in Newbury having dinner before 6pm!

I enjoyed my trip to Oxford.  The weather was lovely and we were sat in the sun for most of the game.  Even though the game finished 0-0, it wasn't a bore-draw and was entertaining.  The ground is very open which is nice on a pleasant day, but I'm not sure I would have enjoyed myself so much had it been hammering down with rain!

Saturday, 31 January 2015

AFC Bournemouth

AFC Bournemouth v Reading
Sky Bet Championship
Goldsands Stadium
Tuesday 21st October 2014
7:45pm
 

Journey Time to the ground: 1 hour 45 minutes.  We left Newbury at 5pm and arrived at the ground at 6:45pm.  We managed to park up in Buchanan Avenue which was about a five minute walk away from the ground.  The on-street parking was free.
 
Ticket Price: £14 for a student ticket, with an adult ticket costing £26

Programme Price: £3
 
This was my first visit to the Goldsands Stadium following redevelopment, although I had been to Dean Court a couple of times previously before the ground became an all-seater stadium.  We were sat in the away section which is half of the Energy Consulting East Stand.  The East Stand is a single tiered stand at the side of the pitch split between home and away fans, with away fans situated close to the South Stand.  The view from the East Stand was good, with enough leg room between seats and a view of the entire pitch without having to stand.

To the left of the East Stand is the temporary Ted McDougall South Stand which is also one tier.  Opposite the East Stand is the Main Stand which is the same size as the East Stand but houses executive boxes and the dug-outs.  To the right of the East Stand is the Steve Fletcher North Stand, which is also one tier.  Overall the ground felt very small and compact with all stands roughly the same height.
 
The first half was fairly even as both sides struggled to create chances, although both did hit the woodwork.  Matt Ritchie hit the post for Bournemouth with a curling effort from 20 yards with Jamie Mackie hitting the bar for Reading.
 
Reading were blown away in the second half as Bournemouth came out as a team transformed, scoring three goals in a fifteen minute spell.  The first came just five minutes after half time with Callum Wilson heading home a cross from Marc Pugh.  The lead was doubled five minutes later when Wilson turned provider for Brett Pitman to convert before Pitman volleyed home a second from Richie's corner after 64 minutes.  Reading were shell-shocked for the remained of the game, struggling to create any chances of note.  The scoreline was only kept respectable by Adam Federici who made a number of spectacular saves throughout the game.

Attendance: 8,899 with 1,073 Reading fans.

Atmosphere:  The atmosphere was fairly quiet as the home fans made little noise, apart from around the three goals.  The atmosphere in the away end was better, with constant singing despite the poor performance and result.

Journey Time home: 2 hours.  We managed to get out of the ground and back to the car by 9:45pm and were home at 11:45pm with a quick detour to Fleet services to get a Burger King on the way!

I enjoyed my trip to Bournemouth despite the result!  The ground is light years away from the old Dean Court, although it is rather on the small side, particularly when the aspiration of the team is clearly to play in the Premier League.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Brighton and Hove Albion


Brighton and Hove Albion v Reading
The FA Cup with Budweiser
The American Express Community Stadium
Saturday 4th January 2014
3pm
 
Journey Time to the ground: 1 hour 40 minutes.  We left home at 11:20am and parked up at 1pm.  We parked in The Bridge car park, the only car park close to the stadium, at a cost of £15.  The ground is not signposted, neither were the park and ride car parks, where we were intending to park!

The ground was a ten minute walk passed Falmer Station. 
 
Ticket Price: £15

Programme Price: £2.50
 
This was my first visit to The AMEX Stadium, a new ground that I was looking forward to visiting.  As the tickets had been bought for me as a Christmas present, I was sat in the Upper Tier of the West Stand.  The West Stand is the main stand and is for home fans.  It has three tiers and houses the players tunnel and dugout.  The view from the Upper Tier of the West Stand was very good, the leg room plentiful and the seats were padded!  It was though, quite a walk up a number of flights of steps to reach the Upper Tier.   
 
To the left of the West Stand is the North Stand which is one tier.  Opposite the West Stand is the East Stand.  The East Stand is two tiered.  To the right of the West Stand, is the South Stand.  The South Stand is single tiered and identical to the North Stand, but is split between home and away fans.
 
Reading started the game poorly and were struggling to create any chances, whereas Brighton had much of the play in the first half.  Brighton had already hit the crossbar three times in the first half hour of the game through Keith Andrews, Solly March and Ashley Barnes before taking the lead just after the half hour mark through an Andrew Crofts shot from 20 yards deflected passed Adam Federici by Alex Pearce.  Brighton were good value for their lead at half time, with Reading rarely threatening.
 
Reading improved in the second half and had much more of the ball without creating many goal-scoring opportunities, with Brighton goalkeeper Peter Brezovan not really having to make a save.  The game petered out, with Brighton more than happy to settle for the one goal victory, and progression into the next round of the cup.
 
Attendance: 20,696 with 2,155 Reading fans.
 
Atmosphere:  The atmosphere was fairly quiet with the ground just over two-thirds full owing to the fact it was a cup game between two teams in the same division.  Both sets of fans did get behind their teams, but the atmosphere seemed pretty subdued, which could have been down to the relentless rain and not playing for league points.
 
Journey Time home: 2 hours.  We split the journey home, stopping in Croydon for some food at Ikea, so didn't actually get home until just before 10pm, having got back to the car just after 5pm.
 
Although I did enjoy the trip to Brighton, it could have been a much better day.  I know that the club do not want people driving to the ground, and this is discouraged by the fact the ground is not signposted, but you would think that the park and ride sites would be heavily signposted, which they weren't.  The weather was atrocious for much of the day.  The ground itself is very nice, but is let down a little by the massive concrete backs of the South and North Stands, which aren't particularly aesthetically pleasing!