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Walkers Stadium
Leicester City v Plymouth Argyle
Championship League
Satur
day, November 27th 2004, 3pm
By Anthony Cannan

It has been years since Argyle have played Leicester, and with Argyle being newly promoted, this was our first visit to a former Premiership ground of the previous season so the expectations were high and lots of us had been looking forward to this game and seeing the stadium. Visits to Leeds and Wolves were to follow later in the season.
 
The journey up was fine. Once in Leicester there was the problem of finding the ground! We eventually found it, and before we left home, we were told there was plenty of parking. This is actually true, the problem was that the Leicester Tigers were also at home to Harlequins, so essentially, there were four sets of football and rugby supporters trying to park within a one mile radius of two sporting stadia, which was absolute chaos. We eventually parked a short distance away in a Leicester University campus - for a fee of 4.
 
We found a pub called "The Counting House" next to the complex of the ground, which was very welcoming - but extremely busy - again because there were rugby fans also present! I don't think this this will be a problem if both City and the Tigers end up doing a 'ground share' of the Walkers Stadium, as then only one team can play on any given day.
 
On entering the stadium, we were very impressed with the concourse facilities, except for the fact you cannot buy alcohol (we were to discover why a bit later)... There are the usual food outlets and betting stalls. A point worth noting is that smoking is not permitted under the stands. The overall look of the concourse area reminded us of what league we were now in, so we hastily ate our food and made our way out to our seats.
 
The away section is right in one corner of the stadium and our seats were in the middle of this, right at the back so we had a view across both stands on either side of us. The view is excellent and for a new stadium, you can really get some noise going, especially when there are 3,000 of you! The acoustics really are great, and we waited in anticipation of when the ground was full and the match could start! City have what's known as the 'fox hunt horn' which sounds when the players are warming up, when the teams come out, and (unfortunately for us) when the team scores. It does wonders for the build up and the tannoy system is quite good so it sounds amazing when this happens!

 

 
Then, the match began, and this is unfortunately where everything about the day was ruined. As it turned out, we lost 2-1, but ignore that fact. We were new to the league and didn't go there expecting to trounce Leicester. That was not the problem. The problems started when Argyle opened the scoring on 8 mins. There was the usual jumping around, singing, dancing and chanting - nothing malicious - just things like 'who are ya' and a little bit of finger pointing. Banter. Nothing more, nothing less.
 
The stewards pounced.
 
There were fans from our side being ejected from the ground - quite heavily handed I might add - by the stewards who all game must have expected us to sit there on our thumbs and clap quietly. They were making the situation worse by ejecting people for no reason other than they were chanting of pointing or cheering for their side, and this was just making people angry. I thought we were being picked until a saw the same thing happening to the Leicester fans too!!! By the time the game finished there must have 20-25 less fans in that corner. It was a complete joke.
 
The Leicester fans didn't help matters, the big noisy crowd we expected were non existent. 20,000 of them and they must have sat there in complete silence all game, except for the ones immediatley to our left. The only two times they got up were when they scored and even after the goals, they just all sat back down again.
 
Worse was to come outside. As we left the ground, the police saw fit to buffett us around and push and shove whilst they were looking for people they'd 'had their eye on' during the match in case they caused any trouble???? There was no violence or trouble during the game so quite what they were looking for I don't know. By their sheer numbers, they must have been expecting a riot. Leicester City and Plymouth Argyle have been leagues apart for decades. There have been no rivalries. They don't hate us and we don't hate them, so why the police and stewards acted the way they did completely beggars belief. My brother was made to stand against a wall until it was clear he wasn't who they were looking for, and when they were done with him, he was 'pushed' quite harshly aside. 
 
All of this completely ruined the whole 'away day' experience for us, and after such high expectations the day was a complete let down. From the fans who wouldn't sing, to the heavy handed police and stewards who all acted completely unnecessarily. The supporters who came up by coach weren't allowed off them until 2.30, leaving them no time to visit a pub or have a walkabout for a while. The police said they didn't have the resources to police all those extra people!!!! If I'd have been a coach traveller, I would not have been happy having spent hours on it (which is normal for us) and not being allowed to get off until the match! Ridiculous state of affairs.
 
For a club that is used to hosting Premiership matches, I thought this was a pretty bad show. I have been treated better at  Cardiff and Millwall.......no joke!
 
All was well in Leicester until Argyle opened the scoring, and it was all downhill after.
 
If you're planning a visit to the Walkers, sit down, be quiet and don't cheer if your team score. That's probably why the home fans were so quiet!
 
The Stadium  - great
The Match     - great
The Hospitality - stone age
 

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