Shrewsbury Town v Colchester United
League Cup 1st Round
Tuesday, August 14th 2007, 7.45pm
First of all, black marks a-plenty to Shrewsbury for communication and lack of it.
Pre-season it was impossible to glean from their website what games were due to take place at The New Meadow – it took me 30 minutes trawling around their website to try to find who to contact about this, and then after I’d emailed my query two weeks to get a useless response
Deciding to try for the Colchester game, the website said that tickets would be at “the usual prices” but didn’t specify what these were!
Then I tried to phone the ticket office to ascertain whether it’s possible to buy tickets on the night (and if so are you allowed to park at the club to do so, being aware already that you can’t park for the game itself unless you’re a permit-holder), having got an engaged signal the first time I then got a recorded message followed by a 5-minute wait for a human being to answer whereupon I gave up.
To be fair, at 10.30am on matchday the website explained both that tickets bought on the night would be at the same price as those bought in advance (because of the difficulty people had had in getting tickets, the online ticketing system not yet operative) and that it is possible to go on site to buy tickets up to two hours before kick-off – but I’m lucky in that I can get access to the internet during the daytime/office hours, others can’t
The Stadium is signposted from about a mile away – yet not when you get to it!! Nor are the park-and-ride venues signposted from the stadium, so having collected my ticket, no information on where to go.
Good word for the guy in the ticket office who found me an aisle seat (necessary with my long legs one of which is still recovering from hip-replacement).
For those who don’t need alcohol before a game, turn left out of the ground, left and left again, brings you to a Retail Park with very big Sainsbury’s which includes a Starbucks, McDonalds over the road (as is cheap? petrol station).
I drove back past the stadium, turned left down the road past the Charles Darwin looking for street-parking but the guys in hi-viz vests were busy putting the cones out and signs clearly state that matchday parking isn’t allowed (as do signs at the entrance to Percy Thrower’s Garden Centre and a Nursery opposite – I’d have though that for an evening game they might have wanted to cash in!)
So I found a lay-by off the Oteley Road, 10 minutes brisk walk from the stadium. Potential drawback with this for night games – sign indicates that only 2 hours parking is permitted after 8pm – so if a cup-tie goes to extra time you’ve got the dilemma, do I stay till the end and risk some enterprising traffic warden or policeman ticketing/clamping my car, or leave before the end. I knew from this moment that the game would indeed go to extra time!!
Stadium is neat and tidy but doesn’t have a wow factor. Tiny club shop with steward on the door to control in- and out-flow, no air conditioning in there, uncomfortably stuffy.
Note, there are plenty of places to chain a bicycle, I had read that this is arguably the best way to get there for non-permit-holders, and it would indeed make sense if you have one, park further away and cycle in or use the train and do likewise.
No club name on the outside of the ground! – maybe this will be rectified and is lower priority? – and they haven’t yet decided what to call the ground, the PA guy repeatedly referred to “Shrewsbury’s New Stadium” – when you could hear him that is, the PA system is woefully inadequate.
Decent view from every seat in the ground, though the people in the exec boxes in the East Stand will have to contend with a low sun for the first part of evening games in Spring and Autumn/late summer.
Not enough leg-room – I ended up sat on the front row from about the 60-minute mark, not the best viewing point..
Decent range of refreshments, usual burgers/pies/pasties and baguettes! And hot and cold drinks including alcoholic ones – but only one serving point under the South Stand where I sat, not good enough to cope with half-time demand (crowd of 3,069 way below capacity so they would struggle to cope with more in). Food and drink at usual football-ground prices i.e. overpriced – “meal deal” pie and a cold drink for £3 – that’s a deal?! But better than Wembley!!
No modern extras like tv screens on the concourse, big screens etc etc...
Until 10 minutes in I thought there wasn’t even a clock inside the stadium – then I noticed a very basic electronic scoreboard with 45-minute countdown just below the roof of the North Stand, but it was extremely difficult to read with a strip light just above it, and away fans presumably have nothing to see.
The game itself featured two below-strength teams matching one another, Colchester slightly more skillful but no end product, Shrews battling hard in all areas of the pitch.
Predictably, 0-0 after 90 minutes, Shrews scored what proved to be the winner in the 105th minute, the scorer Kempson then conceded a penalty which was saved.
I put on the local radio on getting back to the car where the overjoyed presenters referred to a fantastic game and the atmosphere as “something else” – but from my vantage point there were many periods during the game when you could hear individual shouts from all parts of the ground, it was only after the goal went in that the crowd really came to life
Parting thoughts – I left the ground before the final whistle and reckon that there were at least 300 unused spaces in the car-park – how frustrating is that?!
The walk back along Oteley Road to my car was then in darkness – amazingly, considering that this road used to be the A5, it is unlit. Bear this in mind to if going to night games and parking away from the ground.
Are you an away or general football fan who has visited the Greenhous Meadow Stadium recently?
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