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b2net Stadium, Chesterfield
Chesterfield v Barnet 
Saturday, August 7th, 2010, 3pm
League Two
By Martyn Stimson 

Three of us, all members of the 92 Club, decided to give our own teams a miss to visit Chesterfield’s new stadium for the opening game of the season for its first competitive match with Barnet as the visitors.  Having made a late decision we’d missed out on the cheap rail tickets so decided to drive. 

When we got to Chesterfield we drove up the A61 and then turned left at the roundabout onto the Sheffield Road.  Just off this roundabout on the right hand side is the Red Lion pub, a CAMRA Good Beer Guide entry with a range of ale from the Old Mill brewery and televisions showing sporting channels.  They also have a small car park out the back and the landlady was happy to let us park there for the game.  Across the road from the Red Lion there was also a free car park and there was on street parking around there too.

From the Red Lion we walked down Sheffield Road towards the ground.  There are plenty of takeaways and restaurants along this road.  There are also a number of pubs along here too, including the excellent Derby Tup.  There was a great large of ales and a friendly atmosphere in here and it proved popular with match goers who even spilled out onto the street.  A few doors down from the Derby Tup is a superb butchers called Watson & Brown where you can get a very good filled roll to takeaway (and you can even eat it in the Derby Tup).  I had a cracking smoked ham brown bap with pickle and salad for £1.40.  From here is it a short walk to the stadium. 

First impressions of the stadium were that it looked quite interesting, not just your bog standard (insert current sponsors name here) out-of-town stadium.  There was a massive queue for ticket sales but one window had been designated as ‘ticket collection only’ with only about two people in it.  Fortunately I had already booked tickets and I would recommend buying tickets in advance... although this may have just been an opening day teething issue. 

We sat in the East Stand which runs along the side of the pitch and we were sat fairly close to the centre line looking towards the players’ tunnel.  There was reasonable legroom and we had a great view from row D but I think it would have been a great view from any seat in the ground to be honest.  Once in the ground it seemed to look incredibly familiar.  As a Colchester fan I thought our ground had shrunk in the rain and been moved to Chesterfield.  It has the same four-stand layout to Colchester and each of the stands looks very like Colchester but just a bit smaller and there is curved roof on each of the side stands.  However, despite looking smaller it is actually slightly bigger than Colchester's ground but the design seemed more compacted and the place felt fairly full.  The atmosphere was quite good for an opening game in a new stadium and the three stands housing the home fans were pretty full and a few hundred Barnet fans had turned out in the stand to our right.   There were food and drink bars under the stand, I didn’t try any of the food or drink but noticed that a bottle of Budweiser (the American one) was £3.00 and draught Carling lager or gas-flow Worthington bitter was £2.70.  By the looks of it all the food and drink was standard mass produced branded stuff that is the norm at new football grounds.  There were also TV screens under the stand that were showing either Chesterfield FC TV or Sky Sports News. 

The game itself was entertaining with three goals, a dubious sending off and a disallowed goal, all of which aided the atmosphere. These new all-seater grounds never have the same character or atmosphere as the older grounds but it was a lot better than most new grounds I’ve been to.  The result was a home win giving Chesterfield a good start in their new home as this should help them settle in a bit quicker than Colchester did in their new stadium. 

It was a 15 minute walk back to the car at the Red Lion but from there we were straight out onto the A61 and making our way back towards the A1 with few traffic problems.

 

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