The halfway point is in sight now with just 1 more ground to go and I can say I am officially half-way to going to every Football League ground. This fete will now be completed on the 12th of March at Goodison Park in the FA Cup Quarter Final tie between Everton & Chelsea. Not only will it be a new ground but it will also continue my run of going to each Chelsea FA Cup game this season:
– Chelsea 2-0 Scunthorpe United – Stamford Bridge – 3rd Round – Photos – Report
– MK Dons 1-5 Chelsea – Stadium MK – 4th Round – Photos – Report
– Chelsea 5-1 Manchester City – Stamford Bridge – 5th Round – Photos
Before the possibility of contemplating reaching the halfway mark it was important to remember I still had the tricky task of ticking Crawley Town off my list. This was always going to be a tough one because of the location & that I had already missed opportunities to get it done this season with Plymouth Argyle and Bristol Rovers. Nevertheless I was looking forward for this following being told I was required to work in London the following day which gave me the idea to tick it off, finally. One thing that I fail to underestimate is the power of Social Media, my favourite of which as a groundhopper has to be Instagram. I am lucky enough to have a large following on it now including quite a few Crawley Town fans including fellow groundhopper Craig Bratt & Tom Marner. After getting in touch with both of them I arranged to meet Tom at the game after Craig would be staying up North, plastic fans eh? (Only joking, Craig!!) After looking online I realised that Season Ticket holders would be able to take a couple of friends for free so I even managed a to get to this game for free, thanks to Tom. Added bonus.
Prior to setting off the Sat-Nav said it would take approximately 2 and a half hours to get to the ground from Bristol… On a Tuesday night? No chance. I left my Bristol via the M4 at about 3PM with the hope that I’d just miss the 5PM rush hour on the M25. I couldn’t have been more wrong, I ended up leaving the M4 at Reading and tried to go cross country – that didn’t work either. At one point the Sat-Nav said I’d arrive at 19:50, luckily I managed to find alternative routes and arrived about 19:00. 4 hours after leaving my front door – don’t we all love Doing the 92? Once I’d arrived I had a look around the ground, grabbed a Cheese & Onion pasty, bought myself a pin badge, old season review DVD & a programme from their old shop.
The journey was such a shame as I’d been told that a Wetherspoons was a gentle 5/10 minute walk away from the ground which I’d been looking forward to because one thing that Groundhoppers normally love, it’s a Spoons’. I guess its because they are everywhere, they are cheap & they are fairly consistent. Even the food is decent 90% of the time. So once I’d done all of my regulatory things at a new ground it was time to meet Tom to pick my free ticket. This was the 2nd ground out of my 45 thus far that I’d managed to get into for free after winning tickets to watch Stevenage 1-1 Southend United in the Play-Offs last season courtesy of Sky Bet. I have had a few at a measly £5. So even a 0-0 today wouldn’t be too bad (well, it I would still hate a 0-0). Crawley Town vs. Newport County in Sky Bet League Two was never built up to be game of the century but I had been given hope of a big atmosphere after watching AwayDaysYT video on their visit to the ground last season in Crawley’s 2-2 draw with MK Dons, I think he probably got very, very lucky! Tom had also told me that I’d probably picked the most boring game possible left this season… He wasn’t wrong to be fair.
I was still looking forward to the game and continued to be optimistic throughout the build up to the game and after taking my place in the terrace I was hopeful that I would be part of a classic 90 minutes of football. However, I guess, as expected it wasn’t to be. Even the atmosphere was fairly poor which surprised me. There seemed to be a lot of chatter about rather than people watching the game. I guess at this stage in the season Crawley wouldn’t be challenging near the top but they are also not really in much of a relegation battle either after early season scares.
Broadfield Stadium is quite a traditional lower Football League ground. Terraces either side of the pitch with two seated stands along both sides. One of these though is lacking in personality as it is a new one and was simply to increase capacity & probably to comply with Football League regulations (guesswork…) I was located in the home terrace which is opposite the away fans. It was fairly empty this evening but I can’t blame those Newport fans who didn’t travel. Its a long way to travel on a Tuesday night in a game which never was going to take off.
The game itself wasn’t a good one at all to be honest. It was scrappy from the off & had a 0-0 written all over it. Niether team looked like they were about to score & that was indeed the case once the ball did find its way into the net. Scott Boden, the Newport County striker was the 1st half villain as he headed past his own goalkeeper to give Crawley the lead going into the break. The goal came as a bit of a shock to the fans but they took it with aplomb and used this as an advantage going into the second period.
It took Crawley just 8 minutes to double their lead. Again from a corner and again a header which was this time headed into the correct goal. Shamir Fenelon was the man who turned it in to the net which gave them Town the comfort zone they needed to see out the remaining 35 minutes, it was also the first time Crawley had scored 2 in a game for 10 games. Not a lot happenend in the last half an hour or so apart from the away side being reduced to 10 men on 85 minutes after Medy Elito was given his marching orderers for two yellow cards.
A decent evening at Crawley tonight, met a couple of really good people and that halfway mark really is in sight! Crawley are a club looking upwards with the takeover of the club virtually complete at the time of this game and they will be looking at heading back to League One again sooner rather than later. The night was somewhat ruined though by the
letter I got through the post saying I’d been caught speeding on my way back to my accommodation for the night. Balls. To be fair though, I’ve driven over 10,000 miles whilst Groundhopping and this is the first time I’ve ever been in trouble which I think is a fairly good record! Thanks for the memories Crawley, good luck for the future!
What Were The Statistics?
Crawley Town 2-0 Newport County
Attendance – 2003
Price of ticket – £0.00
Programme – £3.00
Car Parking – Free
Miles Travelled – 220 (Journey ended in Wembley)
Arsenal vs. Swansea City – 02/03/2016
Forest Green Rovers vs. Grimsby Town – 04/03/2016
Everton vs. Chelsea – 12/03/2016