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Underhill Stadium
Barnet v Oxford United
8pm Tuesday November 20th 2012
League Two
By John Rogers

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):
 
This was an opportunity to go to a ground that I was fairly unlikely to visit with my team (Leeds). Also, the first ever game I went to as a child was at Bradford Park Avenue in about 1970 - since then, I have always enjoyed watching football in the lower leagues, especially under floodlights.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
 
The journey was pretty straight forward - by tube from Stratford, changing to the Northern Line and getting off at the last stop: High Barnet. The tube line runs past the ground, which is set in a hollow so is very visible, especially under floodlights. Particularly noticeable was just how few supporters travelled to the game on the tube - probably a sad reflection of the choices available to football fans in the capital.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?
 
My decision to go to the game was very last minute, so I had already eaten. A half time tea and chocolate bar was obviously no different to anywhere else. The only home fans I spoke to was on the tube after the game - in common with many supporters at this level I suspect, they both also had 'other' teams. But they regularly went to Underhill for the quality of the entertainment

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?
 
The approach was along a residential suburban street before cutting between the cricket pitch and pavilion, although the family stand which I sat in was not 'double-sided as was Park Avenue's in the 70s. The stand felt like a semi-permanent but very adequate structure. The rest of the ground was the quirky hotch-potch of seating and terracing that epitomises lower league grounds and make them so interesting.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..
 
It was great to be able to hear the players yelling at each other, although perhaps not so much for them when fans vented their frustrations! Seeing the number of players in the programme who have turned out for my club, Leeds, in recent years (Graham Stack, John Oster, Curtis Weston, Michael Duberry), reminded me just how far Leeds have fallen from grace.
 
The game itself was far more enjoyable than West Ham v Stoke, which I had watched the previous evening. An entertaining 2-2 draw in torrential rain - the two highlights were a chaotic Oxford indirect free-kick on the edge of the 6 yard box, and a last minute header that hit one post, bounced along the line, hit the other post and was cleared, as the home fans watched on in agony.
 
The Oxford fans were the main contributors to the atmosphere, such as could be generated by the meagre 1500 crowd.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
 
Back up the hill to the tube...congestion not a problem.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
 
A great evening's entertainment, but one wonders how these clubs manage to survive on so little. All true football fans of so-called bigger clubs should take the trouble to get along to grounds like Underhill from time to time - football needs to retain the diversity of the current league system. I would genuinely rather take in a game like this than sit at home and watch the same old Champions League games week in, week out.

 

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