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Pride Park
 
Derby County v Sheffield Wednesday
Saturday August 18th 2012, 3pm
Championship League
 
Dan Brennan

(Sheffield Wednesday fan)

I’ve been to Derby countless times yet this was to be my first visit to Pride Park. With it being the first game of the season, Wednesday on the crest of a wave from last season and Derby stumbling after an amazing defeat to Scunthorpe in the cup earlier on in the week, it was set up to be a good day.

With Pride Park being centrally located than it is easy to get to. I got the train down from Sheffield - services between Sheffield and London St. Pancras are every 20 minutes but I know that Crosscountry trains also stop in Derby. I’d recommend going by train here - the ground is very close to the station and I saw a lot of traffic congestion around the ground prior to kick-off.

We arrived in Derby at about 1 o’clock and on the way to the stadium (you will most probably get a police escort) you will pass a whole host of watering holes. We went in a Harvester - cheap beer, nice day, job done. There was also a Chiquito and a Frankie’s and Benny’s located close to the ground too. From there we walked to the ground which, all in all, took about ten minutes from the train station.

Pride Park is a cracking ground, both in and out. It’s no different from a lot of others but it’s well built and is very big. It is easy to automatically dislike these new grounds - with my home stadium being Hillsborough, I’m a fan of traditional grounds - but Pride Park is also good. All of the stands were big and I quite liked the executive boxes in the one corner. In this corner there was also a large screen showing Leeds vs. Wolves before kick-off and then showed the game live throughout the match which I thought was a nice touch. The atmosphere was good - 6,000 Wednesdayites, the most away fans ever at Pride Park I believe - were absolutely bouncing and the Derby fans also made some noise which meant it was an electric atmosphere as we kicked off the campaign.

The first half, from a Wednesday point of view, was dismal. 2-0 down after 25 minutes courtesy of Nathan Tyson and Jake Buxton, coupled with some dreadful defending, and the Derby fans were bouncing. Pride Park is a loud stadium and the acoustics are excellent. Wednesday were being hammered in all honesty and a Chris O’Grady screamer against the run of play gave us a chance in the second half, a chance were barely deserved. The second period was different - the Derby fans were silent and tentative as Wednesday cranked up the ante both on and off the field and, after two disallowed goal, a stone-wall penalty appeal turned down and two efforts hacked off the line, Reda Johnson finally bundled home the equaliser in the 90th minute to send the Owls fans absolutely crazy. It was nothing less than we’d deserved after a fabulous second-half display. It was interesting to see that the Derby fans booed their players after the game - they hadn’t been bad by any means, and I feel that they were quite quick to jump on their players backs.

Getting away from the ground was easy enough - getting out of the stand took an age though as the gangways are steep and narrow meaning getting 6,000 people out was always going to be difficult. From there though, it was straight back to the station and onto the train home.

The nature of the equaliser meant it felt like a win! All in all though, a fantastic day out. Derby is a great place to visit - not massively different to other places like the Walkers and Swansea etc. etc. - but it does have a great atmosphere which makes for a great day out. I’d recommend a trip to Derby as, barring maybe a lack of character, there’s nothing wrong with it whatsoever. Definitely go again!


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