Sunday, 13 November 2011

Fleetwood Town - Highbury

Fleetwood Town FC
Highbury Stadium
Park Avenue

01253 770702

Matchday Number: 183
Saturday 12th November 2011
Fleetwood Town 2-0 Wycombe Wanderers
FA Cup 1st Round

I was delighted when Wycombe were drawn away at Fleetwood in the FA Cup 1st Round, as I had not yet seen a game at Highbury (no, not that one) I had made an attempt before to see a game, I was staying up in Blackpool for the Easter weekend as Wycombe had a game up there, I went up on the good Friday and ws planning to go to Fleetwood Town v Prescot Cables in the Unibond League, but the M6 well and truly put paid to that. This game that Wycombe were going to play up there was tagged as a potential giantkilling, but thankfully the kick-off time was not moved to accomodate TV coverage.

I had to work before making my way to the game, so after 4 hours toiling, I set off for Fleetwood at 9am and after a shockingly hassle free journey, I got to Fleetwood just before 1, seeing former Wycombe striker Magno Silva Viera in the car behind on the way to the ground. After a look around their town, I made my way to the previously recommended Strawberry Gardens pub And it turned out to be excellent. 4 "real" ciders, I very much enjoyed my Berry Cider and my Cheddar Valley cider. If there were more pubs like this, where some imagination went into the drinks they served, then I am certain not so many would be closing down. After the pub the Highbury Chippy, right outside the ground was excellent too. And my Steak Pudding, Mushy Peas and Chips were just what I needed to soak up those 2 pints. I also bought a pennant, at a very reasonable £2.50

As for the game itself, the less said about it, the better. Wycombe were dire, as they have been on several occasions this season.Fair play to Fleetwood though, they were excellent and fully deserved their result, and would have given Wycombe at their best a good game. The Cod Army completely dominated the game and fully deserved the result. Richard Brodie had already hit the bar when former Accrington striker Andy Mangan put Fleetwood ahead. Brodie was then sent off just after the half hour mark, for an elbow on Leon Johnson. Despite having the man advantage, it didn't get much better for Wycombe. We had a couple of quarter (less than half) chances but nothing came of it. And it was no shock and fully deserved when Jamie Vardy put the home side 2-0 up. Fleetwood had already hit the woodwork a couple more times before the goal and it wouldn't have been hard on Wycombe if they had repeated their 5-0 victory over Mansfield in the last round, this time out. After the game I popped into the local shop and was happy to find that they did fiery Irn-Bru, which I had been meaning to try for ages. I got home just after 9pm, and had a couple of much needed cans before bed, as I was up early for work again.

HIGHBURY is a much rebuilt ground in between the times of my 2 visits there. The only stand that reamins is the Percy Ronson stand, a nice covered terrace which is given to the away fans (although home fans can be given half)

To the left is the Highbury Stand, seating at a guess around 700. This used to be 2 old stands, seating around half that amount between them.

Opposite is the Memorial Stand, this replaces an older terrace that was there before, and gives a bit more standing capacity for home fans when the whole of the Percy Ronson stand is given to away fans.

Finally, the most impressive stand which has loads of facilities with banqueting suites and bars galore. For the normal fan, it has around 2000 seats and looks really good. Previously, it was little more than open standing.

All in all, Highbury Stadium is a great place to watch football. As well as the previously mentioned chippy and pub, the home fans are really friendly and lend excellent vocal support to their team. Just a shame about the performance, but no doubt we will have the chance to put that right when the 2 sides meet in League 2 next season.

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