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Sixfields Stadium
Coventry City v Preston North End
League Two
Sunday, August 25th, 2013, 3pm

Paul Willott
(Preston North End fan)


1.The guide refers to the scenario currently playing itself out around Coventry City FC as a bizarre script ; and I concur ; hence I had very mixed feelings about setting off for this fixture to the point where I even debated with myself whether I should attend and instead show solidarity with the fans calling for games to be boycotted.
 
In the event I reasoned that as a Preston North End supporter I would go and support my team wherever they play, but was relieved in a sense that my daughter was not with me in case there were any challenging scenes outside the ground with pressure being applied to stop people entering the ground.
 
Hence I commenced the drive up the M1 towards Northampton in a mood that could be best described as mixed. This was to be fourth different venue I had witnessed the sky blues grace, having seen them play away at Deepdale, and at their two previous homes of Highfield Road and the Ricoh Arena, and it seemed both bizarre and sad to think that a once proud top flight club was in such a farcical predicament to be playing their "home" games over 30 miles from Coventry.
 
Having left the M1, I found a field opposite Northampton's ground that I have used previously that charges a mere 2 for parking, and proceeded on foot to the ground.  Tickets for away fans were on sale for 16 from a temporary outlet near the away end, and I noted that there was no attempt by any-one to dissuade the away fans from entering the ground.
 
Once inside the ground, I relaxed somewhat and actually started to contemplate the actual match ahead. With Coventry in free scoring form, having put 4 past Carlisle and 5 past Bristol City in earlier matches and equally a Preston defence seeming to be quite mean, I soon found myself eagerly anticipating kick-off in what promised to be an intriguing encounter.
 
The matchday programme, cost 3, was neither the best, nor the worst, but I gleaned from some of the articles just how complicated the off-field politics are, and how difficult the choices facing the people running the club are.
 
At kick-off, the atmosphere was more akin to a non-league environment in the Conference as there were only 1,000 or so Sky Blue fans in attendance, most of whom were using the main West Stand and only a couple of dozen trying to make some noise behind the goal opposite us in the North Stand. It also became apparent that for the time being numbers being so low, the East stand was kept closed, presumably to keep costs down.
 
In fact, economies of scale are clearly the order of the day for Coventry City; stewarding was threadbare and instead of the usual army of ball-boys located around the pitch, the whole east stand was the preserve of one unfortunate ball-girl who had a busy afternoon with just a hi-vi vest to denote stature over her jeans and t-shirt as opposed to the uniform track-suit approach ( no doubt with inherent cost ). The catering also deserves a mention, for when I ventured to get something shortly before half-time the cupboard resembled that of old mother hubbard. 
 
When one irate fan questioned that lack of food, the explanation given was that they had been told to cater for only 50 away fans, which given that Preston reckoned to have sold more than 900 tickets before the weekend indicates either a lack of communication or further "economies of scale."

On a hill behind the north stand could also be spotted a few dozen Sky Blue fans watching the game with banners proclaiming slogans that were too far away to be legible; however there was nothing wrong with their hearing for they waved cheerfully and enthusiastically every time we the away fans sang "we can see you on the hill.....". They all trooped off at half-time, and only 6 or so returned during the second half.
 
The match itself was fairly average during the first half, Preston taking the lead against the run of play only for Coventry to equalise with one of their many dangerous looking counter-attacks ; it became all too clear how they score so many goals up to that point with surge after surge of fast attacks down either wing.
 
The half-time entertainment consisted of the mascot, a blue elephant, making feeble attempts to throw small footballs into the crowd.....presumably the accountants wouldn't sanction cheerleaders (thank goodness).
 
Halfway through the second half the game exploded into a goal-fest with both sides enjoying the lead only to fall behind, and with 2 goals in extra-time, the breathless spectacle ended at 4-4.   What a match!
 
After the match I enjoyed discourse with some of the Coventry fans both about the match and their general situation, and i wished them well for the rest of the season. It seemed a pity that so few Coventry fans are currently enjoying the free scoring team they currently have, and I hope that common sense, wherever it has gone, returns to the world of Coventry City for the sake of their loyal supporters.


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