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Prenton Park
  Tranmere Rovers v Chesterfield
League One
Saturday 6th August 2011, 3pm
 Chris Connolly

(Chesterfield fan)


First day of a new season and for Chesterfield FC, a new division. Tranmere’s Prenton Park is easy to find from the motorway and seems to be on the border between Prenton and Tranmere so maybe its only by chance that the club isn’t named Prenton Rovers and the ground Tranmere Park!
 
There is a good pub right across the road from the turnstiles (named after the football ground) where rival fans mingled in a perfectly non-threatening atmosphere. The stadium itself is does not look that great from the outside, being clad in blue corrugated metal, but from the inside it is impressive in an endearingly higgledy-piggledy fashion.

Piecemeal development means all four stands look very different from one another and are different sizes as well. The “home” end is, frankly, a bit too big for the club’s current status and was less than half full. It dominates the rest of the ground and personally I find it a bit off-putting when an end stand is bigger than the ones at the sides so I’d say that this very large stand is actually the least attractive of the four.

The old Main Stand has a 1950s look and is none the worse for that, although the addition of different coloured seats in some sections is incongruous when the rest of the ground is uniformly blue. Across the pitch is the single-level Johnny King Stand which looks comfy enough and the Cowshed must be one of the best away ends in the division, very roomy with good access and a decent-sized if rather spartan concourse beneath.
 
Tranmere’s fans were surprisingly quiet although it may just have been that the noise from the away end was drowning them out. There was no tension though, between the two sets of fans, which is always a good thing. The game itself wasn’t bad although Chesterfield’s defeat to a goal deep into the second half was a bit of a slap in the face. To be fair, Tranmere deserved to win. Their team tackled and closed down well and were dangerous on the break especially when their two central midfielders were involved. The goal resulted from opportunism; a quick throw catching the Spireites defence on the hop and Robbie Weir finishing well.

After the match everyone got out with the minimum of fuss, the stewards were low-key and the home fans happy just to enjoy the fact that they had won with no desire to mix it with anyone. Apart from the result it was, all in all, a nice day out and a good football-watching experience.


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