Posts Tagged ‘Stadium’

We need a ‘cuckoo clock’

5 August, 2008

This wasn’t the usual trek up Layer Road to the old ground, past houses and dodging traffic. We didn’t even have to look far for a parking space. There were plenty of places along the way, but I reckon it won’t be long before the ‘lines and signs’ start to appear. Walking through the commercial park and into United Way was a new experience. The first real ‘sign’ of a major change was the road signs indicating ‘Stadium’. We now play in a real stadium. Layer Road was after all just a ‘Ground’ (although most will tell you it was a collection of sheds, and I can’t really dispute that).

An impressive turn out for our first match. The crowd was fairly well spread around all four stands and I should imagine a lot of lessons were learned about how to get us all into and out of the ground. The first chant from any of the fans seemed to be ‘Oh when the U’s, Oh when the U’s, Oh when the U’s go steaming in … ‘ and a few other favourites were aired at times, but the acoustics in the ground may need a little tweaking. The co-ordination between North and East stands particularly needs a little practice.

Half time entertainment amounted to just a troupe of dancing girls accompanied by varying levels of music (occasionally lost in the evening air) and the 50-50 draw. We were introduced (once again) to a couple of former favourites from our Layer Road days- Peter Wright and Mark Kinsella. Eddie the Eagle seemed a bit subdued tonight – maybe that was the effect of a long flight from Layer Road, or maybe he is intimidated by the real name of the stadium – Cuckoo Farm.

The floodlights were very effective, and the view of the pitch was excellent. I somehow expected there to be a pole or something in my line of view. The trade off here is that in the colder days of winter we may be a bit exposed. No cosy sheds to cuddle up in this time around. I asked one of the stewards what he thought of the new stadium. His only response was ‘At Last!’  Someone else I spoke to won a bet (£50) on the kick off being delayed by 15 mins. We were reminded that it’s a no-smoking stadium (good) and anyone who goes outside for a drag won’t be readmitted. Ha!

I have to say that the stadium feels the right size for where we are now – in League One – and when it’s full it will feel a worthy place for the Championship. The atmosphere needs to be tested at a real competitive match but it’s clear we have lost the old intimacy and oppressive atmosphere (for the opposition) that we enjoyed for so long at Layer Road.

As for tonight’s match, the significance of such a good set of opponents tended to get lost. Not a lot was made of it during the game and they had a small contingent of travelling support. I think they were outnumbered by the stewards. It was a typical display by both sides. Typical Spanish cynical play with time-wasting and niggling tackles and a player sent off. Typical Col U play with missed passes and opportunities. There were some moments where it was clear that the lads are happy with the bigger pitch and a lot of useful passing took place, but not a lot to get too enthusiastic about. We deserved to lose 1-2.

The Big Thing for me was the lack of a stadium timepiece. Where was the clock? I need a clock I can look at and get anxious about the lack of time remaining. I guess in this new environment we need a digital timepiece, so perhaps the video screen might be updated to show this.  We need our very own ‘Cuckoo Clock’.

As we left it felt like there was a huge crowd milling around the stadium. The crowd streamed down United Way, dutifully keeping to the footpath on one side of the road. I guess the majority of the attendance didn’t bother with the public transport, although I bet there are significant differences in the availability of on and off-street parking along Axial Way (on the commercial estate) before the end of the season.

This is what life will be like for years to come. We have entered a new era. The bar has been raised (and so have the prices).