Whaddon Road – Gloucester City

19 Sep

Gloucester City AFC – 0

Colwyn Bay FC – 1

Conference North – 17th September 2011

7am. Saturday morning. A very wet September. The Indian Summer of 2011 was a day long. After a night out in and around Manchester’s classiest bars (and Walkabout), in all honesty, the last thing I wanted to do was the long journey down to Gloucester. Or Cheltenham. It wasn’t the journey there that bothered me, more the journey home. Thanks to the absolutely diabolical way that the UK’s rail system is organised direct trains to Cheltenham were cheaper than indirect trains. The direct train to Cheltenham was at 11am, which was fine, but the train back left Cheltenham at quarter to 8, meaning that I’d have at two and three quarter hour wait from when the game finished to when I’d leave Cheltenham. That didn’t appeal to me.

Compared to my problems, Gloucester City had more. A few years ago when a large amount of Gloucestershire was flooded, Gloucester City AFC hit the news as a famous photo of The Tigers’ Meadow Park with the flood water coming in just below the crossbar. We as a nation was shocked, we were saddend, some may have made a few jokes, but once the camera was switched off, Gloucester City was without a home. After years of bouncing aound, they ended up at Whaddon Road, home of local rivals and League Two’s Cheltenham Town.

Numbers may have dwindled, but passion remains.

After a pleasant journey down to Cheltenham (during which it was the first time I’d ever been to Birmingham. I know! Amazing!), which was full of football fans, I arrived in Cheltenham when it proceded to chuck it down. The Stadium was a good couple of miles away from the station, so after walking around aimlessly, I finally got my bearings and on the way to the stadium I met the Bay fans in a pub called the Sudley Arms. It was a nice enough pub, with great range of ales and a few pub snacks, all reasonably priced, but half way through the drink a woman came in and offered us “cheap gammon”. We politely declined.

I heard many things about Whaddon Road, the two things was that it was similar to a bowling green from the outside, and also that each of the stands were designed differently. Both are true, but upon entry to the ground, we could see that it was a league ground, as the pitch was immaculate, and the stands were huge for our level. With a pukka pie to warm me up, we took a vantage point deep in the opponents half for the first half.

The game began with a minute’s silence to the tragic Swansea Mining accident, observed impeccably by the 300 odd at the game, and the game began.

Domaine Rouse caused problems for Gloucester's Defence

To begin with, Gloucester City attacked the goal at the far end, pressing for a few half chances, whereas Colwyn Bay hit on the break. Much of the Colwyn Bay attack came through Domaine Rouse, who held the ball up magnificently and distributed it effectively. One of the more controversial effective chances was Danny Lloyd’s shooting wide through on goal, when he was clearly offside. Luckily for the Tigers the referee of the game seemed to compete with the linesman on “who can make the most inept decisions”, with a few tackles blown for free kicks even though they looked fine from my (admittedly rose-tinted) vantage point. Gloucester had the best chances of the half, with Will Morford forcing a great save from Chris Sanna deep into stoppage time.

The Game at times was hard fought.

We took our vantage point in the “family stand” area of the ground for the second half, which was undercover. We were glad it was, as what followed was the craziest afternoon of weather I’ve experienced. With sun, rain, wind and even hail causing the players issues, the ref seemed a bit more lienient with late tackles, blowing up relatively few times compared to his perfomance in the first half.

The weather didn’t hamper the players efforts too much though, as the immaculate surface still favoured a fast pace game, and the players provided further entertainment with a great half of football. The only goal of the game came 65 minutes in, with fine counter-attacking play saw Karl Noon square the ball into the six yard box. The keeper failed to clear it and Jon Newby scored into the left hand corner. For the final 25 minutes Gloucester pressured for an equaliser, but failed to make the most of their chances. Newby should’ve put the game beyond doubt in injury time, but failed to convert their chance. The final whistle blew and it brought to the end a frantic game of football.

No, it's not a terrible photo. It's Hail.

After the game we retired to the bar, a nice outfit with Sky Sports News bringing in the scores from around the nation, as well as a few ales. I spoke to a few Gloucester fans on their teams plight – unfortunately crowds have dropped since being in a Mother Nature enforced exile, a situation most Bay fans can empathise with. Hopefully they can find a home they can call their own soon. It’s a shame, as there are some great hard working people behind the scenes at the club, and we were made to feel most welcome at the game.

Well, besides the weather, of course.

About Rhys Wynne

Rhys Wynne is the editor & creator of You're Supposed To Be At Home. For his sins, he is a Colwyn Bay & Liverpool fan, and a serial blog creator. You can follow Rhys on twitter here.

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