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Hillsborough, Sheffield Wednesday
v Colchester United, League One
Saturday October 22nd 2011, 3pm
By Philip John Williams

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

I’ve lived in Thailand for over 20 years and obviously I rarely get the chance to see my beloved Colchester United play. However, I was back in the UK for a couple of weeks visiting the family in Birmingham and a day out at Hillsborough was too good an opportunity to miss.

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

I was on something of a ‘tour of the north’ and had actually spent the previous night in Chesterfield. As an interesting aside, I stayed in a B&B in the shadow of Chesterfield’s old ground, Saltergate. I walked around the old place and it was very sad to see it in such a dilapidated condition. They obviously haven’t managed to sell the land yet.

Sheffield is only a dozen miles from Chesterfield so getting to Hillsborough took barely 20 minutes. There are plenty of places to park near the ground itself and I ended up sticking the car in Hillsborough Leisure Centre for a fiver. A tad pricey I suppose but with a boot full of luggage, I needed somewhere secure.
  
3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

I asked the security guard at the car-park to recommend a place for a pint and some pub grub and he pointed us in the direction of at least two pubs. However, upon further inspection, they were both full of home fans and didn’t look particularly welcoming. So we ended up in a KFC. It was either that or something from a burger van because we just couldn’t be bothered to stray too far from the ground having already parked the car up.

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

As this website rightly says – Hillsborough is a beautiful traditional old football ground and I hadn’t been there for over 20 years. It was so great to see it again. We went and had a look at the football memorial and we also chatted to the lovely guy who runs the football programme shop near the away end. Then at 2.30pm we eventually took our seats in the stadium. The 200-300 travelling Colchester fans had been given the bottom section of the South Stand. I thought the view of the pitch was okay but partly obscured by the goal-net and being a six-footer, I could have done with a little more leg-room to be honest.

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

Sheffield Wednesday were lying third in the division having played six and won six at home. Colchester were lying in twelfth. On paper it was a banker home win, but Colchester have been something of a bogey side to the Owls down the years and have got some good results at Hillsborough. After we had dominated the first 20 minutes, I was left wondering whether today was going to be our day again. We managed to get to half-time goal-less but Wednesday came out in the second half a different team and we were 2-0 down with barely 65 minutes gone. Then it became a case of damage limitation. Final whistle and 2-0 to Wednesday was a very fair result.

There were only 17,000 people there, which technically meant that the stadium was half empty – but it didn’t look or feel that way.

The crowd did manage to create some noise at times but you got the distinct feeling that the Wednesday supporters felt all they had to do was turn up in order to get the three points. In contrast, the Colchester away support was pretty pathetic in terms of getting behind their own team.

The stewards were fantastic! We had a great natter with them before the game and they filled us in on what it had been like to be a Wednesday supporter for the last twenty years or so. They were obviously very proud of their club despite the fact they were languishing one or two divisions lower than where they should be. Yes, a friendlier bunch of stewards you would be hard pushed to meet.

The half-time refreshments were okay (usual fayre) and the toilet facilities were fine.   

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Straight back to the car after the game and we were on the M1 south back to Birmingham within 15 minutes. Very easy journey home.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Fantastic day out. OK, we lost - but the result didn’t seem to matter. It was the chance to see a decent football match on a gorgeous sunny October day at one of Britain’s greatest football grounds, a stadium steeped in football history.
 

 

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