Crawley Town v Plymouth Argyle
Saturday, October 1st, 2011, 3pm
1. Reason for visit
Having a few weeks previously covered League Two newcomers AFC Wimbledon, it made perfect sense to visit their counterparts Crawley Town. It also meant 'completing the set' for the South of England.
2. Getting there
A straightforward train journey from Newbury to Crawley via Reading and Redhill. On arrival at Crawley the ground was dead easy to find; I simply studied the map on the website and sauntered down Brighton Road. After 15 minutes I was outside the ground my 'GPS postition' being verified by the giant concrete red and white football in the middle of the adjacent roundabout - no SatNav required!
3. Before the game
On one of the hottest October days on record, the last thing I wanted was beer, so I availed myself of a sandwich and a large bottle of soft drink at the local Marks and Spencers before embarking on the walk down to the stadium.
Beer drinking seemed a popular pastime when I arrived at the ground, but I did my usual thing of chatting to some of the locals and Plymouth fans. Unsurprisingly they had opposing views on League Two prospects. A brief look at the club shop (very small) and the programme stand for which the enterprising owner had made a big effort to stock with Argyle memorabilia.
4. First impressions.
I got a very real sense of deja vue at Crawley. The ground aspect (wooded area on the edge of town), the club colours; two new towns in Southern England and similar sounding stadium names reminded me of a recent trip to Stevenage. The ground layout was very similar too. And each club has an outside bar. The pre-match build up had a nice relaxed feel to it.
5. The game
I viewed the game from the East Terrace and by chance stood next to a 92 club member complete with clipboard and do-it-yourself 'stats' sheet. He jotted down hot and sunny. It definitely was! It turned out he lived at a village about 8 miles from where I reside. Amazing!
The game itself was a bit of a 'curate's egg' -good in parts. The heat undoubtedly was a factor. After 32 minutes the referee stopped play for an officially sanctioned drinks break. I've never seen that before!
There was good football played by both sides when the ball was on the deck. It was in the air too much for my liking. Crawley won 2-0 both goals scored by Matt Tubbs on four minutes and again on the hour. Plymouth tried very hard for a side at the wrong end of the table. They were backed all the way by 800 travelling supporters who made the long trip from Devon. I was impressed by their lively West Country banter and their all-round good humour - exactly what the game needs. They made all the noise. A credit to the club.
I don't like negative reporting but I feel I must mention that in contrast I overhead some distasteful comments about Plymouth players only being good enough for a pay cut. In light of the fact that player payments have been a touchy subject of late at PAFC this crass attempt at a joke was thankfully ignored.
6. Getting away
This was a gentle stroll back to the station to make the 17.29 train with ease.
A modern stadium certainly, and I found it bright and cheerful and in a pleasant location. It was a joy to be on the terrace with plenty of room, good sight lines and no obstructions to marr the view. The stewards were friendly.
A relaxed and enjoyable day. A visit to Crawley is encouraged to see a side that is now firmly on the football map. I was at a loss to understand why the atmosphere on the terraces was so subdued. Must have been the heat.
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