The Football Neutral: Match Fifteen – Cheltenham Town vs Hartlepool United

2013-12-14 16.20.19

This is now an edited version of the original blog… you can read the full one by downloading my Football Neutral 2013/14 season review on Kindle.  Well over 300 pages of daftness. Less than £2! Thanks!

…Whaddon Road is in the middle of a housing estate that feels quite un-Cheltenham.  Of course, football grounds are only ever in two places: In the middle of a housing estate or on the outskirts of a town.  The former are always better.  If you’re watching football in Germany or Portugal you can add two other places: in the middle of a forest or on the side of a mountain.

Saturday was also a big racing day at Cheltenham, and the town centre full of Christmas shoppers so traffic around the ground was a little slow.  Did wonder if Town struggle for a decent attendance on days where the racing and the football clash.  I’ve done gigs at the racecourse in the past and even though it’s on the outskirts of town, racing is a seriously big deal in these parts.

I parked up on a side street and headed to the ground with about 20 minutes to spare.  There were signs everywhere saying that parking restrictions are in place during matchdays.  These signs are clearly a massive lie, because you can park where you want quite safely and for free.

The Prestbury Road End was where I was headed, another terrace behind a goal for me to rejoice in.  Luckily it was covered, because even though the sun was out the wind was swirling around enough to make me put up both of my hoods.  I’m a two-hoods kind of guy on a blustery day, that’s for sure.  Didn’t seem to be too many people around, even close to matchday.  Didn’t see a single Hartlepool fan, although I reasoned there would be some, even if I could probably count them on one hand.

The smallest away support that I ever saw before I started my challenge this season was actually at a top flight game.  Must have been around 1994 or 1995, and Sheffield Wednesday were hosting Wimbledon.  I went to the game with my Owls supporting Uncle and my schoolfriend Andrew.  On the journey there, Andrew threw up all over the velour seating in the rear of my Uncle’s Saab 900, then when we got to Sheffield city centre a water main had burst and several streets were flooded.  Eventually in the ground at the Kop End of Hillsborough, I spent a few minutes counting the Wimbledon fans in the Leppings Lane end.  Thirty six in total.  That’s not even a busload…

Enjoyed this little clipping from the full report? You can download the full report and 25 more as part of my season review ebook on Kindle. It’s less than £2, over 300 pages long and I promise you is a damn decent read. Click here if you fancy!


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