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Bescot Stadium - Walsall
Saturday 23rd April 2011
V Sheffield Wednesday, League One 3pm

By Danny Brennan

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

I've always quite liked Walsall and having looked at their ground, their shocker of a season this time out and Wednesday's small re-surgence it seemed the perfect ground to go to.
 
2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

I went down with Sheffield Wednesday's official coaches so it was easier. We left Hillsborough at 11:30am and were down at the Bescot Stadium by 1:20pm. The trip down was perfectly fine with little traffic and Walsall was very well signposted. Just as you approach the ground you do just about see it over a warehouse but that's as good of a view as you'll get as it's surrounded by other buildings that are, simply, bigger than it.
 
3. What did you do before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

As we were so early we had a little look around the ground first and then went over to the nearby retail park. For those shopaholics out there the retail park is a decent way to kill some excess time, though we simply went to the McDonald's there. The Walsall fans were very friendly and we had some good banter with them walking to and from the retail park. It was a family day at Walsall so there was a good atmosphere around the ground which made for a nice build-up to the game.
 
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

The ground, clearly, is very small. The Extrabet away stand is very small indeed but from the outside it looked a nice, tidy ground. Walsall had kept the stand in good condition and as we walked around the ground the stadium itself generally looked in pretty good condition. It was also one of the cleanest ground I've ever been to - I can't recall seeing one piece of rubbish on that walk-around! Once inside the stand it's compact with average views of the pitch but it could certainly be worse. There was something about the ground that I liked and the away stand was compact which made for a fantastic atmosphere. With lots of Wednesday fans it was buzzing but I imagine even a smaller number of fans could make some noise in the stand.
 
5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets, etc...

The game itself ended 1-1, though in all honesty Wednesday could and should have won it comfortably. Jon Macken gave Walsall the lead on 10 minutes, though frustratingly I had to watch the goal again when I got back to Sheffield because I had a pole in the way of the goal so I missed it. Neil Mellor equalized on 25 minutes (I did actually see that one) and from then on Wednesday looked in control and should've won. There was one steward in particular who took a fair amount of abuse in remarkably good taste and in fairness the stewards were all pretty decent, though I did see one Wednesdayite get ejected rather harshly. I had a pie before the game (2.60) which was good and hot and the toilets, though small, were clean and adequate. In terms of the atmosphere the Walsall fans struggled to make much noise and the vast majority of the singing was from the visitors but they did come out in decent enough numbers and certainly tried their best, for which I give them credit.
 
6. Getting away from the ground was fine, we got a police escort for about a mile away from the ground until back on the motorway heading back up north.
 
7. I actually really enjoyed my day to Walsall. I was disappointed with Wednesday's failure to beat the hosts and though the ground is hardly spectacular I found it to be nice and tidy and far from the worst you could find in League One. The facilities were certainly good enough and I would like to see Walsall stay up this season as I'd quite fancy a trip to the Banks's Stadium next year as I found it to be a good day out.

 

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