Swindon v Leyton Orient
League One, Saturday, April 13th 2009, 3pm.
By Damian Purser
A visit to the County ground Swindon was a must, to see the newly invigorated Orient grab the 3 points that would mathematically guarantee another year in league 1. With my girlfriend the ever reliable navigator, (no Sat Nav required here). we made the trip to the ground from Essex in just 2 hours. The infamous Magic roundabout that is situated just outside the ground is for anybody of a nervous driving disposition a case of closing your eyes, take a deep breath and just hit the gas and go.
Parking at the stadium car park was priced at £10, but just 50 yards further up the road situated behind the same Arkells stand as the stadium car park is the Cricket club. We paid a fiver to park in and had a large parking area to choose from. I would suggest parking as near to the entrance/exit as possible as it is a single lane in/out, so a queue getting out is inevitable but not horribly slow if you take my advice.
Food around the ground according to a few home fans is a bit ropey and expensive, they suggested the Fish and chip shop over the other side of the Magic Roundabout, only a couple of minutes walk away and can be seen from the ground. Don't worry as the roundabout does have crossings so you are actually safer walking across it than you are driving around it! The chippy does a football special of Jumbo sausage and a mountain of nice tasting chips for £2 but can get a little busy for this reason. Just a small bag of chips is only £1.20 and seems to come in a bottomless pit of a bag.
A highly recommended place to feed your face.
We headed back to the cricket club for a pint in the clubs pavillion. Almost £3 a pint but only a 2 minute walk across the pitch to the turnstiles. Doesn't seem to get too many punters but does allow both home and away fans in. On a lovely sunny day like the day we visited a drink sitting at the tables outside is a pleasurable experience. The bar inside is a little small though, but had a tv showing sky sports news.
We were situated in the Arkells stand situated alongside the pitch. We had an allocation that would see us given approximately a 3rd of the stand, with in my opinion a rather too generous segregation area between us and the home fans, as Swindon I believe operating a pay on the day scheme under estimated the amount of fans they thought we'd bring. We headed straight for our usual place at the back of the stand only to be told by the steward that they wanted to keep the back 2 rows empty. The group of 6 of us moved to an empty bunch of seats only to be told that this was part of the over exaggerated segregation area. The stewards then relented and let the back 2 rows be used as the empty seats scattered around were quickly being filled. Overall though the stewards seemed very pleasant and never seemed to ask the fans on the back row with the desire to stand to sit down. The seats did seem very uncomfortable and close together. The hard wooden backs causing a few moans and groans of back ache.
The game itself was in my opinion hard on Swindon who hit the woodwork twice, this coincided with O's stopper Jamie Jones also playing a good solid reliable game between the sticks, denying some good Swindon efforts. The game was settled after only 3 minutes when O's Jason Demetriou returning fresh from a 1 game suspension fired home an unstoppable drive into the top corner after good work from Wayne Gray. A winning goal good enough to win any game. A lot of fighting spirit from Swindon, that echoed many of Orients games earlier in the season. Out playing sides at times yet the luck not falling your way. Hence the need on many occasions for the woodwork to need repainting.
The Swindon fans noise seem to come from behind the goal, of which looked a seated area but most fans were standing up. Not a lot of noise from the home crowd but certainly not the worst I've experienced. Orients aren't exactly ear drum shattering, although some of us do try our best.
Half time entertainment involved 3 separate mini matches that had groups of very young kids all chasing wherever the ball went, as they do at that age. They loved the cheers they got from both sets of fans whenever somebody scored a goal. The PA announcer duly showed his gratitude to both sets of fans as the kids did their lap of honour, grinning from ear to ear as all sides of the ground clapped.
Overall a good day out, and a hard earned 3 points. Saw or heard no problems amongst opposing fans, as they in general seemed a good bunch. Good luck to them in their fight for League 1 survival, as it's a ground that I'd have no problems with visiting again.
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