City Ground - Nottingham Forest
Sunday 5th March 2011
Vs Hull City, Championship League, 3pm
By Neil Harding
A trip to the City Ground is one I have always wanted to make, but as City had not played Forest since a time when Elton John had real hair and the internet was the stuff of Science Fiction, then the opportunity had never arisen. With this in mind Nottingham Forest away was the first game I looked for when the fixtures were released back in the lazy, hazy days of June.
Forest would be about my 75th ground following my beloved Hull City AFC. The date of the fixture was the 5th of March. Okay. Not a problem, all good things come to pass. But needless to say this was a must see game.
Sure enough the 5th of March eventually dawned and off we toggle to Nottingham. Four of us setting out from North Ferriby (in west Hull) at around 11am, hitting the outskirts of Nottingham at around 12.30. The morning had been grey and damp in Hull and so it was in Nottingham. We drove through the centre of the city, passing by the railway station and minutes later the floodlights of the two local grounds appeared. Therefore the railway station looks to be about a ten to fifteen minute walk away from both. We circumvented the City Ground, drove along Radcliffe Road, passed the road leading to the away end and low and behold we find a car park next to a store and just across from a MacDonald’s outlet. It is £5 to park literally five minutes walk from the ground, which is value for money in my book.
The first question after parking was where to partake for a lunchtime pint. If in doubt ask a policeman. We did and after ruminating about it for a minute or so the officer of the law, suggested that as a couple of us where wearing colours we wouldn’t gain entrance to the local bars which were all home fans only (is it only Humberside Police who allow away fans in the pubs next to the KC Stadium?) The officer directed us to Meadow Lane, home of Notts County.
Off we walked across the bridge and over to the other side of the River Trent. Taking about ten minutes. I have to say that the sports bar at Meadow Lane has to be one of the best places I have ever been to for a pre-match pint. There is a good selection of beers and food on offer and loads of friendly staff. On arrival at around 1pm there must have been about 300 City fans in the bar. This gradually increased to about 800 to 1000 by 2pm. There is a big screen at one end of a big room so we were able to watch the 12.45 Sky game (Birmingham City v. WBA) An excellent venue, thank you Notts Country FC – top marks.
Anyway once suitably liquidly refreshed we head back over the bridge, passing the numerous chippies and Kebab places, go down Radcliffe Road, passed the entrance to the Trent End, down Colwick Road and eventually find Thornton Road and the away end turnstiles at the Bridgford End.
Inside the stadium the concourse is fairly narrow but long. There are an adequate number of toilet facilities and food bars serving the usual pies, hot drinks and what not and also a Victor Chandler betting kiosk for those wanting a punt. I thought this game was going to be too hard to call so a parting of a few quid on the outcome did not cross my mind. Forest had not lost at home since August 2009 (very impressive) and City were 11 unbeaten on the road. Something had to give. Maybe a draw then.
On entering pitch side my first impressions of the ground were frankly mixed. Three sides of the ground are lined with new, impressive cantilever stands that tower high above the pitch, but the Main Stand to the left is a bit of a throwback to a bygone age. The Brian Clough stand to the right sweeps around towards the Bridgford Stand which houses the away fans. Worryingly the upper deck was populated by home fans and visions of all sorts of nasty’s coming over the top did cross my mind, but as far as I am aware nothing did. Through the gap in the stand between the Trent End and the Brian Clough stand, the Meadow Lane ground is clearly visible.
The atmosphere right up to about five to three was muted with neither the home nor the away fans stirring much. This did change as the game got underway with the 3,500 City fans easily drowning out the home fans, but isn’t that always the case. I can safety say that all 3,500 City fans stood for the entire 90 minutes with no hassle from the stewards. Also the policing was okay.
As for the game it was a lively affair and played on a slick, well grassed pitch which in early March is a testament to the skills of the City Ground ground staff. One of the downsides is the PA system with the announcer sounded as if he was been garrotted when he attempted to give any information.
Once the game was over, which resulted in a City 1-0 win, we got back to the car park. Getting out of the car park was a bit of tall order, but we eventually got away and out of Nottingham by about 6.30 or thereabouts. Tips I would give anyone going to the City Ground is if you are in car to get there in good time if you want a car parking place. All in all a good day out and despite some verbal’s from a couple of home fans coming out the ground, I would still recommend a trip to the City Ground.
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