Crewe Alexandra v Notts County
Saturday August 18th 2012
League Two, 3pm
By James Spring
Why were you looking forward to visiting the ground?
Well it was the opening league game of the season, and despite going out of the league cup the previous weekend, expectations were high among Notts Fans. Eight Dorset based County fans were travelling up in a minibus so it was set to be a good day no matter what.
How easy was your Journey?
We left Weymouth and embarked on the 204 mile trip at 9am. Somewhat surprisingly, traffic on the motorway going north was almost non-existent, which allowed us time for a few comfort breaks along the way.
Once you’re into Crewe itself you tend to see a lot of football fans going in the direction of the ground so you could just follow them. Our driver had printed the route off the AA route planner before so he knew where he was going luckily.
Parking around the ground is very scarce so I would recommend parking somewhere along Weston Road, which is a 5 minute walk from the ground. Head towards the roundabout, go left down Nantwich Road, over a bridge, past the railway station and you see the ground on your left. You then get to Gresty road itself.
What you did before the game pub/chippy/home fans friendly?
We went straight to the ticket office. Despite being told by the Notts website that there was a young adults ticket costing £9.50, but when I asked for this I was told that they didn’t do this and was forced to pay the full adult price of £20. Not the fault of the girl in the ticket booth but it would appear the club needs to be a bit clearer with its ticket information.
Crewe operates a ticket only policy on the turnstiles as well so you’ll have to visit the ticket office which is near the away end if you don’t buy in advance.
The home fans seemed ok mostly although there were a few young lads behind the goal who looked about 12 years old giving it the big ‘un.
Brought the club match day programme named ‘The Alex’ for £3 which was a very good read.
What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end and other sides of the ground?
The first part of the ground you tend to see is the largest stand at the ground – the Air products stand. This stand really stands out from the rest of the ground and houses most of the home support. The away end (now named The Whitby Morrison Stand) is smaller but adequate. It housed the 1,236 travelling fans that day with a few spare seats. I wasn’t expecting much of a view but was pleasantly surprised to have no problem seeing the action. But there are two supporting pillars in the middle of the stand so if you sit near the back your view may be slightly hindered.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of legroom. Even if your quite tall you can stretch your legs out, rather than becoming cramped and uncomfortable as is the case at some grounds.
To the right of the away end is the Mark Price stand, where the noisier home fans seemed to congregate. They seemed like mostly young lads, one of which had a drum. They made plenty of noise all through the game.
Comment on the game itself, stewards, atmosphere, pies, facilities etc..
Being the first game of the season the atmosphere from both sides was electric. I was surprised at a slightly high Police presence, although they didn’t really enforce their presence which was good.
There is a food outlet inside the away end, although there was a big queue so I didn’t bother sampling it for myself. However from what people brought, it seemed to have the usual selection of pies, burgers, chips, snacks and drinks.
The game itself was an eventful one. Notts took a 1-0 lead towards the end of the half when Francois Zoko finished off an excellent flowing move sending the away fans wild. Yoann Arquin then put the visitors 2-0 up just before the hour mark after a cross deflected into his path. He went from hero to villain soon after when he rather stupidly kicked out at Ashley Westwood, who went down and rolled around as if he’d been shot to get Arquin sent off.
Shortly after Crewe pulled one back from the corner, and the last quarter of an hour was tense with Crewe throwing the kitchen sink at us. Just when we thought we’d survived, the fourth official signalled 6 minutes of added time! Lee Hughes of all people cleared a late effort off the line and that was Crewe’s last effort.
The full time whistle was greeted with relief and joy from the Notts fans. Overall, we deserved the win, and looked very comfortable until the sending off. Both sets of fans were in full voice throughout which was great.
Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
Most fans seemed to head back towards the railway station and to Weston Road where we parked. There were some home fans that didn’t seem to take kindly to their first league defeat since February, shouting some abuse at Notts fans as we headed past the railway station. We stayed in the car having a bite to eat before setting off, by which point there was little traffic. We were back on the motorway home by about 6pm.
We arrived back in Weymouth at around half ten, in time for the Football League Show!
Summary of overall thoughts of day out:
One of the best days out I’ve had for a long time. A fairly straight forward journey, a good laugh on the way there and back, a nice little ground, a great atmosphere and all made even sweeter by 3 points to start the season. Good luck to Crewe for the rest of the season.
Onwards and upwards for the magpies!
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