Whaddon Road - Cheltenham Town FC
Saturday, January 12th, 2008
V Bournemouth, League 1, 3pm
By Mark Newbury
Being a Bournemouth fan, away games usually consist of long hours spent on motorways. This season though provided a good opportunity to see a game without having to leave home before 7am.
I hadn't been to Whaddon Road last season where we lost 1-0 from a 90 minute winner from the Robins. I was hoping history wouldn't repeat itself. On the morning of the match we were told by relatives in Cheltenham that they had experienced heavy snow the night before. After leaving it as late as possible, we decided to head on regardless and take our chances.
The drive up was a breeze with no hold ups and as we got closer to the ground the snow had all but melted and the weather was fine. Driving into Cheltenham, the ground is well signposted and very easy to find. Traffic got busier nearer the ground and without a public car park immediately near to it, finding a place to park became difficult. We eventually managed to park in a side road approximately half a mile from the ground and walked from there. The club itself suggests parking at Cheltenham racecourse and getting the park and ride in from there. We decided to check nearer the ground first and found this worthwhile.
The stewards outside the ground seemed very helpful and pleasant enough. Away fans are housed in the Carlsberg Stand which is one of two newer stands in the ground. First impressions of the ground were positive. Whaddon Road certainly oozes character. It combines the older, traditional styles of grounds with a terrace end behind one goal (C&G Stand) and a grandstand along one length of the pitch (Stagecoach Main Stand) with the newer style stands seen in most grounds nowadays. The away end houses approximately 1,100 fans and provides a good view of the playing action. One piece of advice for visiting away fans is to keep watch of balls flying up into this stand. It's steep and very close to the pitch resulting in our fans getting knocked by stray balls on more than one occasion. The food and drink inside the ground are of good value. Was roughly £1.50 for what seemed like a bucket of tea...good considering how cold it was!
The game itself was certainly lively with both teams creating a good amount of chances. The atmosphere was very flat at times with only the away fans making any noise. However One notable chant from the home support "Shoes off, if you love Cheltenham!" is still in the memory. This being the only time that the Cheltenham crowd seemed to make any noise, and that was when they scored the winner...again in the 90th minute. A harsh end to a game which at the least should of ended in a draw. The stewards inside the ground were definitely less accommodating than the ones we saw outside which saw them line up in front of the away crowd every time they created any noise...very annoying!
Getting away from the ground was easy with no hold ups. Once in the car the traffic had built up slightly and was slow moving away from the direct area around the ground. The drive home was as simple with no hold ups however the weather at this point had changed for the worse so this resulted in a slightly longer trip. Overall it was a great day in Cheltenham despite the result. Would certainly go again.
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