Accrington Stanley v Bournemouth
Saturday, September 17th 2009, 3pm
By Peter Moor
1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):
Who wouldn’t look forward to a trip to Accrington, founder members of the Football League and one of the true homes of football? Sadly, their elevation to the League seems to have brought as many problems as it has solved, and with the club sending out a financial SOS (“Save Our Stanley”) with collecting boxes and fundraising events very much in evidence there is the sad prospect that this might not be a League ground that much longer. With crowds generally struggling to reach 2,000 the prospects don’t look good, even if (on the field) the team does okay.
2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking??
A brisk 20-minute walk from Accrington station, away from the town centre: a proper pre-match walk. Just look for the viaduct (the town’s most prominent landmark), find Whalley Road and you’re there.
3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly???
The Peel Park (some way from the ground, but Good Beer Guide listed) is a real gem: despite an unpromising location, it’s cosy, has friendly staff and a great selection of real ales. Home and away fans mingle happily in The Crown (carry on along Whalley Road a few yards past the Livingstone Road turn-off to the the ground): no real ale, but cheerful, speedy bar staff. But best of all is The Grey Horse, an unpretentious local, (on the other side of Whalley Road): bigger than it looks from the outside and cheerfully whacking out pints of local Thwaites beer.
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground??
Like Accrington itself, it’s…er…small. The away end is a real throw back…no cover, but fine views towards the Lancashire hills…okay on a mild October afternoon, less fun on a rainy January night. The stands at the two sides are tiny, and half of the Whinney Hill stand is cordoned off. The Sophia Khan end is where the home fans congregate, with the stand-ups (unusually) behind the sit-downs. It’s hard to imagine 5,000 (the official capacity) squeezing in here.
5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..??
Even the prospect of playing League leaders Bournemouth (who brought a fair sprinkling of fans when you consider the journey from Dorset to East Lancs) couldn’t pull in a crowd above 1,800. Accrington gave as good as they got in the first half, but Bournemouth’s extra class showed in the second half and a goal fifteen minutes from the end kept them at the top of the table.
Culinarily speaking, there can be no doubt that this is pie country: but the only choice at the ground is between gravy and peas to accompany to your meat (I do not know what kind) and potato pie. The pie and peas combo is comforting and oddly delicious.
The atmosphere generated from the Sophia Khan end is impressive, helped by a drummer who I have also noted on Accrington’s travels.
6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game ??
No problem at all but with a crowd of just 1800 you wouldn’t expect there to be. Accrington station would struggle to deal with more than a couple of dozen supporters, I feel.
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