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Weston Homes Community Stadium
Colchester United v
Peterborough United
League One
Saturday, October 26th 2013m 3pm
James Prentice
(Doing the 92)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

I wasn’t relishing the prospect of a trip to Colchester United’s new home given that I’d heard it is just a re-run of Shrewsbury Town’s ground – which hardly grabbed my imagination! However, I was willing to give it a go and tick it off my ever-diminishing 92 list. I never made it to Layer Road so I thought I would go to the Weston Homes Community Stadium with an open mind and booked a ticket for the visit of free-scoring Peterborough.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

I had looked into going to Colchester by train, but given that I’d have had to make a laborious journey via London and then get a shuttle bus to the ground I decided it might be better to go by car. I was due to make the journey with a friend who sadly couldn’t make it so made the journey alone; however, this can be a real advantage as one can set one’s own agenda and not have to worry about anyone else! The journey from Lincoln took just under three hours and I found the ground easily, being located right next to the A12. After seeing that parking options are few and far between I booked my space on-line and was sent the permit via first class post. I was pleased I had taken up this option – I normally try to find a free space but managed to park less than two minutes’ walk from the turnstile.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

Pre-match entertainment options are extremely limited to say the least, in keeping with many out-of-town grounds, so I was glad I didn’t have too much time to kill before the match. I went for a look in the club shop and bought a badge and programme before going for a walk around the stadium, taking a few pictures along the way. The refreshments stand in the Weston Homes Stand (the home end) was open before the game and there are a few picnic benches outside. There is also a café located next to the reception in the Main Stand, with seating inside and out. I went for a drink and watched Sky Sports News on the concourse – home and away fans were mingling pretty freely, with no signs of any aggro.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

Before I knew it, it was time for kick off and I headed towards my seat in the home end. The incline of the stand is extremely steep – similar to Tynecastle and Rugby Park – and this gave an excellent view of the action. Whilst on the small side, the stand I was in felt pretty comfortable and looks like a replica of the away end, which was about two-third full with Posh fans. To my right was the Jobserve Stand, which was almost identical to the two aforementioned stands. Part of this stand closest to the away end was cordoned off but vacant – this area is used when the visiting team travel in numbers, with the rest being sparsely populated by home supporters. The final stand is the largest in the stadium and is home to the directors’ box, the media area and a row of executive boxes. In keeping with many new grounds, the boxes have a balcony so that those inside can feel like they are part of the crowd rather than watching the game from behind Perspex.
5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc.

The home fans gradually got noisier as the game wore on, with injury-hit Col U growing in confidence throughout. The Posh fans, however, were pretty quiet and seemed to expect to turn Colchester over with minimal effort. After a quiet first half, the game sprang into life when Posh’s Lee Tomlin was sent off and there followed a spate of bookings and bad challenges from both teams. Although Peterborough had the better of the possession, Colchester grabbed the only goal 20 minutes from the end and held on for an unexpected victory.

I had a steak pie (they had unfortunately sold out of Balti pies) and it was fairly tasty, while the stewards seemed really friendly and laid-back. The concourse and toilets were the standard breezeblock build but were pretty clean, which is more than can be said for some grounds.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

I left a couple of minutes before the end and, happily, was able to get straight out of the car park and was back on the A12 in a couple of minutes. However, I’d imagine that if I’d left it until after the final whistle it would have taken quite some time to get out, given that there is only one road in and one out of the stadium. I got home in just under three hours, with minimal fuss and got to enjoy the delights of Sports Report and 606 whilst driving.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

The stadium is slightly better than I’d imagined it would be. It is functional and well maintained but, like a lot of new builds, does lack a bit of originality and could do with a bit of thought in allowing the club to put their own mark on it. I would seriously recommend driving to the ground if you are travelling quite a distance, as I’d imagine that waiting around for a shuttle bus after the game and then facing a long train journey home would be frustrating. Out-of-town grounds always make me pine for visits to the homes of clubs like Newcastle, Exeter, Everton etc, whose grounds are close to railway stations and pubs, chippies and other amenities. However, the stadium has probably had some unfair press since it opened and certainly offers a comfortable, if unspectacular, afternoon out.

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