Friday, 5 July 2013

Banbury United - Spencer Stadium

Banbury United FC
Spencer Stadium
Station Approach
OX16 5TA

01295 263354

Ground Number: 280
Friday 5th July 2013
Banbury United 2-0 Swindon Town

For the third game of my season I would be off to Banbury United's Spencer Stadium. It was a ground that I had fancied visiting since I went there to take pictures a few years back. I would be on my own however, as Anwar had already 'ticked' this one, so I was pleased it was a fairly short journey. It was a treat I felt I deserved anyway, after working 6 solid days at work. That would not have come about had I seen that Bala Town had the home leg of their game against Estonian team Levadia Tallinn, a fact I only discovered after going online after coming back from the cinema on Tuesday, where I had a good time watching World War Z, one of the better films I have seen in recent times. In any case Bala won 1-0 in a match that had the odds stacked against them, fingers crossed they can finish the job in the second leg.

I always like to unwind on a Friday night after a week at work, usually through a few drinks, or preferably the more healthy option of some Friday night football. So when a Friendly against Swindon came up, it was a good opportunity, especially seen as Swindon were sending their first team to play the Southern League side.

I had an enjoyable steak and chips for dinner and left home at around 6. I made good time despite it being the rush hour and me needing to stop to get cash on the way. I got to Banbury and parked up at around 7.10, going straight in. A nice thing that they did was give you a voucher for money off a drink in the bar, a decent idea that got people using it. I got myself some Kopparberg and went round taking some pictures, and meeting a really friendly dog called Angus. In fact everyone seemed friendly at that point.

Swindon looked to have named a pretty strong side, Wes Foderingham who had played a lot last year was in goal, there were also a number of trialists. Banbury had much the better of the game and took the lead on 25 minutes when Luke Cray scored with a header. They continued to dominate and forced some good saves out of the Swindon keeper. I thought I'd treat myself to another pint, as it was still a fair while before I had to drive home. I finished that just before half time and so decided to use the plastic glass to have some of my Irn-Bru that I had bought into the ground as it was a lot nicer than drinking it out of the 2 litre bottle.

This led to a bloke in a red polo shirt and with a serious attitude problem to come over and aggressively speak to me. 'If you use that plastic glass to drink your own drink again, then I will eject you' he said. I mumbled OK then, threw the plastic glass in the bin and walked a little further up the pitch. I was most taken aback, presumably a club official, handing out orders with no charm whatsoever. I was especially annoyed as I had made an effort to put money back into the club, spending £6 behind the bar, as well as paying to get in. I'd have been perfectly happy to comply if he had asked in a civilised and unthreatening manner anyway. Fortunately people like this were few and far between - I've only met a few in 22 years and over 1300 matches of watching football, but this has put a serious taint on an evening that up until then, had been really good.

Anyway, the second half continued in much the same vein as the first, despite both teams making a host of changes. Banbury doubled their lead when Albi Skendi slid the ball home on 52 minutes to give them a deserved second. They continued to push for more. The Banbury fans were in good voice and must have contained some Oxford fans as there were plenty of anti Swindon songs. I was surprised at the lack of lack of Swindon fans, probably around 40 in total, with no one singing. Though to be fair the team didn't give them much to cheer about.

As the end of the match approached  I went and stood around near the entrance, so I could make a quick getaway. The few visiting supporters that remained were not happy, complaining about the pitch, the referee and of course their players! I made good progress on the way home and was back home within an hour, and looking forward to another game tomorrow when Wycombe play their first pre season game at Havant and Waterlooville.

The SPENCER STADIUM is one of the more interesting grounds in non league. There is a main stand holding around 250, but this is situated towards one end of the pitch. Views and legroom are good, despite some pillars at the front of the stand. Directly to the right is a covered terrace. The steps are quite shallow, but there are plenty of them. This is probably my favourite part of the ground, being decked out in bright red and yellow to match the club colours and it gives the ground a bit of character. This terracing continues to around the halfway line on the other side of the pitch, albeit uncovered. The rest of the ground is uncovered flat standing.

The club shop was closed on the occasion that I went, which is a shame as I fancied getting some old programmes and maybe a pennant too. The tea bar looked to have a pretty good range at decent prices too, though I didn't get anything as I had just had dinner. As for the clubhouse, it looked to have a good range, much better than most clubs. And the fact that you could have a pint whilst watching the game was a really nice touch and how it should be. However the attitude of the person mentioned above spoilt this, and I will leave it up to you to decide whether the ground is worth visiting. I'd certainly be recommending it, had it not been for that incident.  

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