Weston Homes Community Stadium
Colchester United v Preston North End
Saturday, March 3rd, 2012, 3pm
Normally I visit a new ground with a degree of nostalgic wistfulness over another lovely old ground having gone to the history books, but for me this was not the case. I considered Layer Road to be a poor venue hardly fitting league status and my first ever visit there caused me when spotting floodlight pylons to end up at a railway marshalling yard!
Once again, I can report on a ground being both map-proof and sat-nav proof. As you cruise up the A12 you literally trip over the ground on the easterly side of the main trunk road.
Having heard some people complain about the ground being another 'soul-less' example of modern grounds, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I disagreed and liked what I saw on first arriving. The stadium looks well laid out and quite distinctively designed and was pleasing to the eye. The car-parking charges are a trifle steep, and there is a lack of refreshment options nearby though, which is of course the price paid for a new out-of-town venue.
That said , all the facilities at the ground such as ticket office booths and turnstiles are state of the art, and it is quite clear that alot of thought has gone into the design of every aspect of the stadium.
During the game though I noticed that the atmosphere was somewhat flat, and was puzzled that the home fans haven't turned out in greater numbers. The stewarding in the away end seemed fairly relaxed, and this was proven when during the second half sections of the away support turned on each other and it was dealt with in a fairly low-key and calm manner.
Did I enjoy the match? Not really, as Preston North End played pretty poorly once they conceded a goal, hence the end result was never really in doubt, and the home side cantered to an easy 3-0 win. In truth, we were lucky to get Nil !!
After the game, we had to wait a short while for the shuttle buses to leave before the cars were allowed to depart. This only heightened my surprise at the low turnout of home supporters. Not only have they been given a quality new home for their football, but there is clearly a well organised public transport infrastructure to get people to and from the town, so I remain a little mystified as to why?
Colchester's new ground is good quality, well managed, well stewarded, and car parking carefully and sensibly controlled, so no complaints there; once we got moving we were soon on the A12.
My one consolation is that living in Kent, I had a much shorter journey home than most of those who may have journeyed from Lancashire to witness such a dire performance!
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