Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Blackburn Rovers - Ewood Park


Blackburn Rovers FC
Ewood Park
Blackburn
Lancashire
BB2 4JF

0871 702 1875
Official Website






Ground Number: 202
Monday 7th May 2012
Blackburn Rovers 0-1 Wigan Athletic
Barclays Premier League







MY VISIT

I had originally been planning to go to Blackburn Rovers next season, but when the opportunity arose to go to a game with fellow groundhoppers Dale (also a fellow Wycombe fan) and Robert (a Blackburn fan) I jumped at the chance. Completing the group as a Portsmouth fan, so indeed we all knew what relegation felt like, having had all 3 of our teams suffer that fate this season. We also planned to go to Mansfield Town v York City in the playoffs. I had done this ground several times before, but as it was a fairly enjoyable day out, I didn't mind doing it again. Especially factoring in the cost that tickets were only £15 and that petrol costs would be shared, meaning that it would work out cheaper than doing Blackburn by myself made it a no brainer. 
On the day, I had to work till 10am, but as soon as work was over I got changed and met up with everyone. We made steady progress up to Mansfield and were there by 12.30. After I had collected my ticket we went and had a look at the Mansfield club shop. I decided against buying a pennant because as nice as they were, they were £8 and I only had limited space on my wall. Instead, I bought a scarf from an unofficial seller for the much more reasonable price of £3. We then went to the Talbot Inn pub for a pint. I left a bit early to go to the chippy and also to a shop for a drink. Even so, after a bit of a walk, it was only 15 minutes before the 2pm kick-off when I got inside. The game itself was nothing to write home about, with both teams being really cagey and not wanting to give a goal away. Even so, it wasn't the worst goalless draw I have ever seen, and after 90 minutes we had extra time. After pretty much dominating the first 90 minutes, Mansfield were starting to look jaded, and York were becoming the stronger team. And it showed - York's Matty Blair netting a 111th-minute winner for the Minstermen after a 1-1 draw in the first leg. To add to their woes, Mansfield also had Richie Sutton sent off late on, and will spend another season in the Blue Square Premier.


We made a pretty quick getaway from Mansfield. Even so, with extra time added on, it made it that little bit tighter to get to Blackburn on time. In the end, it was fairly comfortable, arriving around 6.30. After a 15 minute walk to the ground, we went to the Club Shop, the pub for another pint and finally the bookies before making our way to the ground. Amusingly, on the way to the ground, we saw a plane, hired by Burnley fans, waving a banner saying 'IN VENKYS WE TRUST'. By this time I was a bit hungry so I got myself a portion of chips, which at £2 were not bad value for inside a Premiership ground. As we made our way into the ground it started to rain - not brilliant news as we were near the front and we were only partially under cover and so got a little bit wet. The game was not much to write home about - a dull, scrappy affair in the pouring rain. Wigan had the better of the game and it was no real surprise when Alcaraz headed home Wigan's 87th-minute winner. 
What was more interesting though, was the off-pitch events from the stands. There was chanting all night about club owners Venky's and also manager Steve Kean. There was also a mass pitch invasion at the end with fans carrying banners. But perhaps the most shocking incident of all was when a live chicken was released onto the pitch, captured live on Sky Sports, without doubt, the best incident of the evening. I haven't got a clue how they got the chicken in, but whoever did it was a genius. After waiting around and watching the aftermath of the on-pitch protests, we made our way back to the car, getting back to where we had parked at around 22:45. It was a fairly quick drive home, after a brief stop, I was back at work, where my car was parked by 1.20 am, having enjoyed some good company and the ticking off of another football ground, if not the quality shown on the football pitch.




THE GROUND

EWOOD PARK is one of the better stadiums in the Premiership this season. 3 of the stands are really modern and 2 tiered. They offer a good view, even if the front few rows get wet. The other stand, the Riverside was an older stand with supporting pillars but was quite pleasing to the eye, with nice coloured seats. The food in the ground was pretty decent and not too badly priced for the Premiership. Outside the ground, there was the Fox and Hounds pub, which didn't have anything special on cider wise and charged roughly the same prices as in the ground for drinks. I saw lots of takeaways but didn't try any out as I was with a group and only saw the bulk of them on the way out anyway.

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