I don’t think Rovers’ return to League 2 could have taken place at a better venue…
Rovers fans, after navigating their way through a housing estate, were welcomed to Accrington (and League 2) by a pile of seats that had been ripped out of the terraces and left to decay slowly on the grass outside the away entrance. I couldn’t help but think about the championship grounds we used to visit in comparison to now, and how I actually wouldn’t have it any other way.
When I was very, very young Rovers still played at grounds like this. It was at these places where my love for football was forged and going back to grounds that aren’t all-seated, sleek looking stadiums and actually have some character just floods me with a blinding sense of nostalgia.
The parking arrangements were excellent too. We left our car in the official away car park, a field that was adjacent to the ground. It cost £2 for parking, which in comparison to the prices over the last few seasons was a shock to the system. Paying £10 for a car park that’s basically the same is bloody extortionate really and the parking charges at Accrington were truly a breath of fresh air.
There are very few things better than standing on a terrace in the August sun, eating chips and slowly cooking in the heat. Well… maybe an away win for once would easily top it. However, believe it or not, Accrington isn’t really the promised land I have made it out to be thus far.
The staff at the Wham Stadium clearly weren’t prepared for the sheer number of fans who would be travelling to the first game of the 2016/17 season. By half time, drinks of any kind were totally sold out. This is hardly ideal in the intense heats and also quite irritating when you’ve queued for a good twenty minutes to be totally turned down. The kiosks also didn’t sell pies of any kind – outrageous really – and £2.50 for glorified oven chips is basically daylight robbery.
Personally, I don’t even want to talk about the state of the toilets, which comprised of half a dozen portaloos and four cubicles (none of which have working flushes) and after thousands of Rovers fans had made use of the facilities it wasn’t a pretty sight at all.
Overall, results aside, the trip to the Wham Stadium was a wonderful day out. It set the tone for League 2 football and if all the grounds this season are of a similar nature (perhaps with better toilets) I cannot wait to visit them.