North End - Deepdale
v Sheffield Wednesday, League One
Monday, December 31st 2011, 3pm
Wednesday, despite two poor results recently, are flying high in League One and 4,000 other Wednesdayites must have thought the same as me - this is a very good opportunity for three points.
Myself and a friend got the train to Preston from Sheffield Midland Station. This included a change in Manchester Piccadilly and cost £29, which seemed quite steep, so I think if I went again I would look at a different means of travel. From Manchester Piccadilly it took about an hour to reach Preston. From the station it took us a good half an hour to walk to Deepdale.
Some friends of ours are from Preston, and they recommended that we try the famous 'Butter Pie' whilst we were there. We did so but upon tasting, I'd advise leave it well alone if I was you! Pubs seemed to be few and far between, however, and many of these seemed very Preston-orientated.
Deepdale's a nice ground to be fair. It's a good size and much to the delight of the Preston fans I spoke to, it looked in better shape than Ewood Park down the road in my opinion. The Football Museum is in a bit of a state and speaking to mates and also staff at PNE they seem very frustrated at its' departure, which is understandable, but seem reluctant to see it knocked down. Once inside the ground, it's pretty decent. There are two big, nice looking stands to the right and directly across from the visiting stand and the Invicibles Stand to our left was hardly a let down, it simply needs the area above the stand sorting out and it'll be sound as a pound.
Wednesday's dominance throughout paid off and goals from Danny Batth and Ben Marshall before half time set the tone for a comfortable, 2-0 Wednesday win. Preston were very poor throughout though and I think this contributed hugely to the dour atmosphere in the ground. It's been a long time since I've seen a side play so negatively, so to think that Preston fans watch that every week is sobering! Saying that, the three points are all that mattered for Wednesday and we went back to Yorkshire happy bunnys, eagerly awaiting what 2012 has in store for our club. Stewards were fine, the toilets were big and clean which is a huge bonus as not all football grounds have this 'luxury' and the food was good enough. The stand is steep though and I echo other reports which state that it can be a bit dis-orientating for people who aren't fond of heights as, even though the stand isn't huge, you're more or less on top of the pitch.
Getting back to Preston Station was simple enough although without the help of the people we knew I can envisage it being a potential problem as it's a fair way away. I'd recommend getting some directions before the game and keep asking people around you - the home fans were all very friendly (even if the young ones were incredibly 'chavvish'!) and I'm sure would help you out. Once there, simple enough getting home although you do pass Bolton's ground on the way home and if they're at home as well as Preston I predict that the train may very well get full so prepare yourself. Thankfully for us they kicked off later on in the day so we survived.
All in all a good day out at Preston. The ground isn't the most accessible and, using the train, Preston itself wasn't exactly perfect to find but the fact that Wednesday played very well and Deepdale is a good stadium with bags of character means it's a trip worth making and I'd jump at the opportunity to visit the ground again in the future, though hopefully in a higher league as I think the Preston fans deserve it. They turned out in force to see a woeful performance and even though I'd rather it be them than us, I'd still like to see them start picking up. Good ground, I'd certainly recommend it, just drive there!.
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