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Madejski Stadium, Reading
v Coventry City, Championship League 
Saturday February 19th 2005, 3pm
By Lori Kilpatrick

I was looking forward to going to the stadium as it is quite modern and fellow fans have said it was one of the better new grounds. However I was still rather suspicious because some other new grounds are very bland.

I took the train to Reading and on arrival at the rather picturesque station I decided to wander round the city centre for a while rather than hop on the shuttle service to the stadium. It is a lively city with lots of bars, shops and a wide variety of food outlets. I wore colours throughout the day, in the city centre and outside the ground and did not encounter any problems, a Reading fan even lent me 20p for the bus, as I was short on change. The bus journey to the ground is very straight forward as the nearest bus stop which was situated just to the right of the exit of the train station. If I remember correctly a return ticket was 2.50 and the journey took around 10 minutes.

On nearing the stadium, I have to say that it looked pretty spectacular and on arriving there was ample opportunity to soak it up as a walk around the entire ground was necessary to reach the away end. Inside the ground I sat towards the back and the view is excellent. On the down side though the ground was lacking in atmosphere simply because there were around 10,000 empty seats. This is not speaking for the away fans as acoustics are perfect and a large amount of noise can be generated (especially if you come back from 1-0 down to win!).

The ground is spectacular in every way and design is faultless, one complaint I would second was the heavy handed stewarded who threatened to throw out fans many times for standing up even though they were sat at the back. I did not have any food in the ground but from what I could see there were the normal large queues and standard fayre available.

After the game no fans were held back and the home and away fans were allowed to mingle which caused no problems at all. One problem was getting back on the buses after the game. Huge queues developed awaiting the buses and to be fair to the stewards they dealt with the crowd very well and plenty of buses were on hand to cater for all the fans. I got back to the station just in time for my train because of heavy traffic and the day ended well.

All in all going to the Madejski stadium was a very nice day out as the infrastructure for a new stadium is all in place and information is available all the time due to the large amount of police on duty. The reading fans although not the most vocal are very friendly and at no point did I feel intimidated.

 

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