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Ricoh Arena
Coventry City v  Swindon Town
Saturday, March 2nd, 2013, 3pm
League One

By Ronan Howard
(Swindon Town fan)

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

Though I’d been to the Ricoh before due to work, I’d never watched a match there. Certainly looked a good ground and better than many in League One. Coupled with what was to be a very big away following, this was shaping up to be a good day out.

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

From Basingstoke it was a 115 mile trip, although relatively straightforward – M4/A34/M40, before skirting around Coventry and back in from the M6. Due to the wonders of google street view I knew exactly what to expect and where to go, and signposting is excellent.

Parked in the Ricoh car park free of charge, as I’d arranged this as a “football package” (two tickets for the match, with a night in the hotel adjacent for me and the missus for around 80 pounds). I cannot recommend this enough as it’s great value and meant once the car was parked we could really relax. Parking is ample at the stadium itself.

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

As we arrived early (around midday) there was plenty of time to take a wander across the road to the retail park and have a burger. Then to the casino adjacent to the Ricoh – spacious, decent selection of beverages, Sky Sports on the many TVs, it was yet another selling point for the ground. There was plenty of time to watch the early kick off match and have a couple of pints before taking a short stroll to the away end. It should be noted that there’s very little else in the way of pubs in the immediate vicinity of the ground so it’s just as well the casino is large enough to accommodate a big away (and home) following.

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

The Ricoh looks pretty impressive from the outside but seems smaller than first impressions once you’re actually inside. Whilst it’s perfectly adequate and comfortable there’s little to distinguish it from similar modern stadiums. As a “bowl” type stadium all areas look fairly uniform, with the exception of the large row of executive boxes on one side of the ground to our left.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

I had mixed feelings before the match, as we’d seemed to have a downturn in form, and had just appointed a new manager – confidence wasn’t exactly high. As for the game, it was a rollercoaster to say the least – after going one nil down within the first couple of minutes due to some absolutely shambolic defending, the town rallied themselves and started to threaten. It was yet another match where we ended up dominating and creating a host of chances only to squander them repeatedly. Andy Williams seemed to be having a nightmare with three gilt-edged chances wasted, before finally equalising in the 86th minute. Although I would’ve taken a point at that stage, we did one better and defender Darren Ward scored a rare header to win it on the 90th – cue delirium from the 2000+ town fans in the away end!

The atmosphere was mixed throughout the match other than that, with the home fans making little noise and with some problems finding seats for the away fans – as I’d got into the ground early I experienced no problems, but did hear of some having to watch the game on TV on the concourse – it would seem Coventry grossly underestimated the amount of fans who would attend, and after allowing unreserved seating, found it difficult to get everyone sat down. There were a number of frustrated exchanges with stewards that I saw, however to their credit all the stewards I spoke to were excellent and very relaxed.

Didn’t eat or drink in the ground, however there seemed to be adequate facilities and the toilets were ample and well maintained.

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

As I was staying over at the hotel I can’t really comment, however the car park layout was fairly good and I wouldn’t imagine there would have been too many problems – the traffic getting back on the M6, possibly more problematic.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

In terms of result and performance, a fantastic day. Atmosphere from the home fans was fairly flat, and with only around 10-11,000 home fans in a ground that holds 31,000, there were big gaps in the seating and little opportunity to get any singing going on. Nice enough stadium, easy to get to and with good facilities. Would definitely visit again in the fairly likely event we’re still in League One next season!

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