Stevenage - Lamex Stadium
16/10/10 - Stevenage Borough vs Burton Albion 2-1
I honestly didn't decide to go to this match until about an hour before I left. I was toying with the idea of going to see Dagenham play Walsall, but as it was a nice day and the Lamex Stadium was another new ground, so I chose the latter. I could of course go in just over a month's time when Southend are playing them, but it's a Tuesday night and I'll be working then, so this fitted in nicely.
In fact it's one of those few places for me, where it's quicker to drive to, than go by train. So I leave home soon after 1 o'clock and drive along the A127 out of Southend, passing the Crewe team coach going the other way to Roots Hall. Then onto the M25, which is busy, but thins out after the M11. Then onto the A1, which is clear apart from some road works through Hatfield. I find I'm coming into Stevenage just a little over an hour since I left home, sixty miles away. If I'd gone by train I would have still been at King's Cross by now, plus would have had a mile walk from the station. The only problem is that it's pouring down. I find the club car park, which is just across the dual carriageway from the ground and is actually free. There's not a steward in sight. I then cross the busy dual carriageway like most other fans, ignoring the subway, which seems out of the way for me and take a walk round the ground.
It's a fairly modern looking ground, with social club, club shop, but I can't see any sign of a ticket office. I have a quick look inside the club shop, which is living room size, but does have a quite a good choice of items. Then I go into the social club, which has a good mixture of both Stevenage and Burton fans and buy a pint of Green King IPA. There's rugby on the TV for a change, so I don't hang around. I then discover as it's division 4 , you just pay on the gate. So I go round to the front of the ground and pay my £18 to go into the main stand. I get a small yellow ticket, but it doesn't say which match it is for, or which seat I can sit on.
Inside the ground looks quite modern, with seats on two sides and terraces on the other sides. I find that most seats have "reserved" on them, presumably for the season ticket holders. So after nearly sitting in the director's box(!), find a seat further down, but not as far back as I would like. To the right of me is the away end which is all seated and has about 200 Burton fans in it. Opposite me is the main terrace, which is where the singers go. Then on the left behind the goal is another terrace and only about 100 home fans are standing here. To its right is an electronic screen on top of a lorry, similar to the one they at Carlisle.
Like Scunthorpe United, you can walk right across the entrance to the player's tunnel, though they do pull out a canopy for the teams coming in and out. They play the music from the ITV version of Formula 1, followed by Phil Lynott's Yellow Peril and then the teams come out. Until that moment there has been no singing, then the Stevenage fans start, quickly followed by the Burton fans, who do continue for most of the first half. The Stevenage Mascot, Boro Bear is there waving a flag and he comes out again at half time for a penalty shoot out in a pathetic goal which is only six feet wide and all the children shooting at it fail to score!
For the first ten minutes Stevenage dominate and get a penalty when Chris Oldroyd got pushed by Ryan Austin. However, Albion goalie Adam Ladzgins managed to push the ball away for a corner. In the next fifteen minutes no less than five players got booked - Trevor Kettle was the referee - need I say more! There was more action with the players fighting than playing football and I thought someone was going to get sent off. However, Stevenage did get a goal in the 34th minute, from a second penalty, which Scott Laird scored from. After another booking, making a total of six, the 4th official indicated that there would be SIX minutes of injury time added onto the first half!
This meant the second half didn't start until almost ten past four. This time Burton were the dominant side and soon scored courtesy of Aaron Webster. Stevenage skipper, Mark Roberts was lucky not to get sent off after he brought down Harrad on a charge to goal, Instead he was quickly substituted by Luke Foster, who ironically got sent off a few minutes later! Luckily for Stevenage, they did get the winner in the 58th minute when Holroyd scored with a classy volley. Burton tried to get an equalizer, but just couldn't achieve it in the end.
I left before the end to make sure that I missed getting stuck in the car park. This was a wise decision as you have to go back on yourself past the ground to get to the motorway. If I'd waited any longer. I would have been stuck in traffic. Instead I had a trouble free journey back to Southend and was walking through my front door just before 6.00pm.
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