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County Ground
Swindon Town v Oldham Athletic 
Saturday March 30th 2013, 3pm
League One
By Pete Callan
(Oldham Athletic fan)

It's been a few years since I have been to the County Ground but due to where I live its one of the easier fixtures to get to. Being just a couple of hours easy drive from the Isle of Wight ferry terminal in Portsmouth

The County ground is a very easy place to find. Easily reached from the motorway network. The famous "Magic Roundabout" fills drivers with fear but as long as you follow the arrows then its easy to negotiate. The ground is next to it so its a case of aiming for the right roundabout exits. Car parking at the ground itself is a shocking 10, but if you are sensible then you will set off early and park on Shrivenham Road next to the stadium which is residential. All the houses have their own
garages/driveways so they don't seem to mind you parking on street -Best of all its FREE and no more than two minutes walk from the County Ground.

I travelled to this game with my grandson and we stopped at a service area just outside Newbury. There does not seem to be much in the way of cafes near the ground altho there are one or two pubs around. Around the ground there are the usual trailer snack cabins serving burgers and chips at a moderate price.

What I do love about Swindon is the fact that the fans are so welcoming. Several smiled at us, chatted and debated everything from De Canio's departure to the prospects of their promotion and our relegation. What was really nice was a lady who almost dragged us into the "Robins Nest" which is a great little club for junior Swindon fans which is open prior to the game and welcomes junior away fans. My grandson had a great time playing the Wii, table tennis, table football etc. That allowed me more time to drink coffee at 1 ago and banter with older Swindon fans.

The County ground is a good old traditional box ground that is very visible as soon as you come anywhere near it. The floodlights stand tall, there is a lot of open space. While the County ground may well not have become one of the many goldfish bowl grounds of the modern era it is well maintained. It's quite smart and spacious and access to all parts of the ground is very easy - Away fans do have to walk through a little park and along a path but its really not hard work. views are un
restricted and as away fans are somewhat elevated above what was at one time terracing below -The views really are excellent all over the pitch.

This was Lee Johnsons first real challenge since taking over as Manager. Being in the bottom four and playing against a team lying second in the table ould not get much tougher. However for the first hour we played very well, a little bit of luck, good defending and a new found spirit and desire lead to Lee Barnard putting us ahead in the second half. The lead didn't last long and after sustained pressure Swindon equalised with an overhead kick that Bouzanis never even saw. Swindon had enough to wrap it up in the closing stages but it was an excellent hard fought point for us.

With over 10,000 in the ground including around 500 of us Oldham fans who were located in the Arkells stand. Reasonable seats with good leg room and excellent views of the action. There was a good solid atmosphere generated by both sets of fans all the way through the game. Stewards were friendly and chatty and when we did stand used common sense by just ensuring there was no danger or people blocking gangways.

If I had one real gripe it was that were not anywhere enough refreshment kiosks. The queues were so long that it was clear the game would be well into the second half if we waited in line. The loos were fine, clean and better than i have seen at many grounds.

Getting away from the ground after was a doddle...2/3 mins walk along Shrivenham Road and within 5 mins we were heading towards the M4/A34

This is a really friendly club whose fans are welcoming, hospitable and feel part of Swindon Town FC. Without doubt one of the nicest places I have been too in forty years of watching Oldham. Nice touches such as Swindon players joking and chatting to stewards and programme sellers. This is a family club and you do feel like an invited guest. My third visit with hopefully several more to come in the years ahead...


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