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Highbury Stadium
Fleetwood Town v Rochdale AFC
League Two
 Saturday, April 6th 2013, 3pm
By Arthur Richardson
(Rochdale fan)

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

As Fleetwood are in their debut season in the Football League it was exciting to visit them for this Lancashire ďderbyĒ after hearing so much about their meteoric rise through non-league football. There are one or two ex Rochdale players on their books and itís always good to see how they are getting on. Some of my partnerís family also originally come from Fleetwood, so she was excited to revisit the town to relive some of her nostalgic childhood memories of family visits there. After all the bitterly cold easterly winds and snow of recent weeks, it was a bright sunny day and perfect footballing weather with a very light breeze.

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

The journey from Rochdale is only 60 miles so itís an ďeasyĒ away game in that respect. The sat nav took us straight to the ground where we arrived and found some street parking only two minutes walk from the main entrance. As we arrived about 2pm, this might have made the job of finding a parking space somewhat easier than it could have been later.

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

As usual the indispensible AA Good Pub Guide proved a valuable asset as we found a rather bizarre place about 19 miles from Fleetwood called Guys Thatched Village in Bilsbarrow, which had all sorts of oldie worldie shoppes, and a pub that did good food in huge portions. Itís right beside the Lancaster Canal, with an assortment on canal boats moored by the pub. Well worth a visit if youíre on the way to the match. When we got to the ground, Jim Sportís Bar was filled to the brim with home and away supporters getting on fine; so was a perfect setting for a couple of pints of Tetleys and the last 25 mins of the Reading v Southampton game on the 25 or so screens in there. I suppose I was the only one in the place really interested in seeing Saints win 2-0, Southampton being my home town!

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

The ground is compact and the view from the Parkside Stand where we were sitting was good. It is good to be close to the action in my view, and this proximity gave full value to a hard tackling game! The covered Percy Ronson Terrace was full of Rochdale fans and the acoustics were excellent. In fact I have not heard our fans in such good voice all season! The Parkside Stand is excellent and gives an indication of how the ground can be developed in the future, assuming their continued success and funding.

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

The game was hard fought in midfield but I have to say that Rochdale dominated the match virtually from the first whistle and was one of their best performances that Iíve seen this season. Fleetwood, for a side pushing for the play-offs, were a bit disappointing and this is confirmed by their managerís post match remarks that it was the worst heíd seen in 10 years. Maybe we were fortunate to encounter them on what was clearly an off day for them but is was pleasing to see us converting dominance into goals, something lacking in our performances of late. The stewards were friendly and helpful and very nicely ejected one of our fans who had clearly had one too many and was becoming a danger to himself. Done with smiles and shrugs; the sort of stewarding you want to see.  Having eaten that ďhugeĒ pub lunch, I was in no position to sample the pies, but the facilities throughout were excellent with really friendly staff who did make you feel welcome.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
Getting away from the ground was no problem at all and we were home in just over an hour, leaving the cries of the Fleetwood seagulls lamenting, no doubt, the result.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

A really pleasant day out. The trip from the Pennines to the Irish Sea was problem free, the weather almost Spring like and the result, one that has probably secured us in League Two for another season. It looks like Fleetwood wonít make the play-offs now so I look forward to returning next year (all being well).

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