From my recent visits to football stadiums, I had noticed a peculiar, and worrying correlation. Club shops were beginning to stock lots of products of their sponsors. This may have been happening for some years, but it really has seemed to have taken off in the last couple of seasons.At Blackburn you can purchase a lovely tin of white emulsion with a picture of David Dunn on the front (Crown Paints). At Morecambe they have an extensive range of cut-price ‘Bench’ clothing. At Chelsea you can buy Samsung phones.
However, the most amusing case of advertising I have seen so far has to have been at Crewe. If you’re a fan of breakfast cereals and football, then why not visit Gresty Road? They have a table located at the back of their extensive club shop dedicated to Mornflake Cereals. My personal favourite is ‘Very Berry Oatbran Flakes’.
Incidentally, if you’re heading up to Chesterfield expecting vodka… you’ll be highly disappointed!
Anyway, Dad and I chose to go to Crewe as it was relatively close, and we were using The Sun Newspapers ‘Footie with a friend for £9.50 ‘ promotion. It was actually £19.50 for two tickets, but you can’t grumble.
Great players have come out of Crewe in recent years; Geoff Thomas, David Platt, Rob Jones, Robbie Savage, Neil Lennon, Danny Murphy, Seth Johnson, Dean Ashton and most recently David Vaughan.
We set off to the match and I was genuinely looking forward to visiting a completely new stadium. I had passed Alexandra Stadium, or Gresty Road as it is more affectionately known quite a few times on the train, and the main stand looked brilliant.
Not knowing what parking would be like around Crewe, we decided to park on an industrial estate around 10 minutes walk from the stadium. This is where the club advise away supporters to park. The parking was free because it was on the main road, which was a bonus.
I was wearing my Wigan Warriors rugby shirt as they were playing away at Leeds Rhinos. I received quite a few weird looks, and a couple of comments. My favourite comment was from an Oxford fan, who had obviously already had too much to drink 2 hours before kick off! He was stumbling past me, pointed at my top and shouted “Ohhhh rugby! Very naughty!” In a VERY camp voice.
I bought my programme which was what I expected from a League 2 club, and it had a nice big poster of my star of the future – Shaun Miller. If you want to find upcoming talent within English football, get yourself to Crewe. Honestly.
After having our usual walk around the stadium (Well, three quarters of it) we went in. Now my Dad is a big Manchester City fan and they were playing Chelsea at the time, so we stood with all of the Crewe fans watching the remainder of the game. Luckily for me Man City won and my Dad was in a very happy mood!
Watching the match on the very small, dated TV sets that were on the concourses made me slightly hungry (Okay, it was just a simple excuse to indulge with a Pukka Pie). I bought the pie off the young woman, whilst doing so I asked her for a fork. “Sorry. We don’t have forks. I’m afraid you will have to eat it like a Wiganer!” – I knew it was a mistake wearing that shirt.
Anyway, after eating my pie out of its tin wrapper we went to our seats. If any of you ever need pie eating tips off me, I can quite easily help you!
Sitting in The Air Products Stand offered what looked to be the best view of the pitch available at Crewe. This stand also seemed to be the most popular amongst home fans with the majority choosing to sit within it. The Air Products Stand was built in 2000 and is home to Media and Players facilities.
To my right was The Wulvern Housing Stand, also known as the Railway End, it has a capacity of 682 spectators. However nobody has sat in this stand on either of my visits to The Alexandra Stadium.
On my left stood the The Mark Price Stand. Holding 982 spectators this is where the more vocal, and mainly younger Alex supporters stand and cheer on their team. Using the low roof and metal outer wall to great effect to create an atmopshere.
The ‘Oxford Ultras’ were congregated in the The Blue Bell BMW Stand which runs the length of the pitch and can hold up to 1,680 away supporters. The Oxford fans brought quite a large following and created a great atmosphere.
The match was one of the most entertaining games I had seen in a long time. Both teams played some brilliant football, which even some Premierleague teams would be jealous of. With the stand out players for me being Shaun Miller and Clayton Donaldson. Oxford play in EXACTLY the same kits as our school, so I was looking for an Oxford player to resemble in my next match.
Crewe skipper David Artell had put Crewe into a well deserved lead after 38 minutes when he headed in at close range from an Ashley Westwood corner. Both teams then continued to battle hard into half time.
The second half brought another excellent 45 minutes of football, which was well worth the admission fee. Shaun Miller continued to cover all the pitch, whilst Clayton Donaldson still looked a threat up front.
Oxford scored on 70 minutes when Crewe piled everybody forward and were hit on the break. James Constable slotted the ball past Rhys Taylor in the Crewe goal. Unfortunately it wasn’t a day to remember for James Constable after he was sent off for two bookable offences.
Both teams continued to play great football, and both had goals disallowed in the last 10 minutes. The game finished 1-1, and the scoreline did the game no justice whatsoever.
I loved my trip to Crewe that much that I went back to watch the recent pre-season friendly with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Where I have spotted another promising young player called Caspar Hughes. Caspar is possibly one of the smallest players I have seen on a football field, but he can certainly hold his own from what I have seen. I will definitely be back there again sometime soon, to do some more personal scouting!
- DISTANCE TRAVELLED TO GROUND: 41 miles
- PROGRAMME PRICE: £2.50