Wednesday 14 December 2011

Swindon Town

Swindon Town currently play in League Two of the Football League, the fourth division in 'old money'.

I was lucky to visit earlier this season. Not any old game, but their much awaited local derby, after a 'gap' of about a decade, against bitter rivals Oxford United. It was a Sunday game, on 21st August, almost a full house, all tickets sold, over 12,000 there. A good friend of mine, Nicolas Lucas from Namur, in Belgium, follows Oxford United, as one of his English sides, and was driving over for the day. He offered to pick me up by the M25 in Reigate, as he drove to Wiltshire via the Channel Tunnel, so I joined up with him & one of his Belgian mates. He had a ticket for the Oxford section, & he had booked us tickets in the centre of the main stand in the home section.

I must 'confess', having met & played against the Oxford United supporters team in the past, I was wanting them to win, which they did, by the odd goal in three, but I of course kept quiet about my 'allegiance', & politely clapped when Swindon equalised!

Despite many grounds being forced to be all-seater nowadays, this ground has retained it character. Decide for yourself...

We parked a ten minute walk from the ground. Follow the signs...

This was the first view of the ground. It is set back from the main road.

The reason we are here.

Nicolas picks up our tickets, which he booked for the home stand. His one was bought through Oxford.

Nothing on sale on the day.

Plenty of refreshment stands doing a good trade outside, this is over an hour & a half before kick off.

Programmes on sale outside too.

With their impressive Club crest on the front of the programme trolleys. Chosen by their fans, in 2007.

The game is being shown live on non-terrestial televison.

I leave the Belgians for a few minutes, & look round the outside of the ground. This mural is on the corner of the Don Rogers Stand & the away Stratton Bank.

Turning back, behind the Don Rogers Stand.

Their Junior Supporters Club appear to be based inside it.

Some of the turnstiles.

With the usual list of banned things.

More details, for the locals who can read! ;-)

A poster for a forthcoming match.

Now back on the corner of the Don Rogers & Town End stands. Here is their club shop. As a good South London boy I couldn't resist a reduced price mug for their play-off final visit to Wembley in 2010...where they lost to Millwall!

This is the rear of the main home end, the Town End Stand.

A map of the ground on the wall.

Plenty of time before kick off, we headed back out to the main road, here looking back at the ground.

We couldn't see a local pub, & weren't sure how friendly they would be, so we met up with Nico's Oxford mates drinking outside this post office & off licence by the ground.

The main group of visiting fans arrive, with their police escort.

Here they come...

I suppose the police must 'justify' their overtime! ;-)

Herding them toward the ground.

Almost there.

Swindon fans bait them...

Well if he's going to film me then I'm going to take his picture...only fair! ;-)

Home boys give it large...

Police keep Oxford in their place...

Storm in a teacup...Swindon could really have had a go if they were up for it.

Waste of a ticket for this chap.

Swindon swapping insults...having failed to make a charge! Too many Danny Dyer wannabes having seen the film eh boys? ;-)

Cabaret over, time to get in the ground for the match, here we are at 'club shop corner' again.

Old style ticket windows..

Cracking old style pylons, with a hoarding from 4-4-2 who have been club sponsors.

Almost at the corner, where we will turn to the Arkell's Stand, which is the main one, where my ticket is for.

There is a small club shop on this corner too. Note the pictures of players running along the top of the wall behind it.

It includes former Swindon Town greats from yesteryear.

A close up of the more recent ones, which we just saw.

Now we're behind our stand on the side, first aid room in the corner.

Stand name on the side.

To our left is the local cricket club.

The pavilion looks magnificent. Sadly it was too close to kick off to investigate further.

Under this stand is a club bar, presumably members only, as it had a steward on the door.

Another function room, named after their former director & chairman, who was club president when he passed away in 2000.

The main entrance to the ground, at the back of the Arkell.

With a lovely old fashioned brass plate at the entrance.

Box office windows.

Looking at the main entrance.

The queue in for my section.

Inside now, part of the concourse under the stand.

Big screen televisons hanging down.

Paid for by the Supporters Club.

Now we are in the ground. Clearly, as this is a football League ground, fully segregated, I can't walk round in my usual fashion, so the parts of the ground will be roughly shown as I took my snaps. Here we look to my right along the Arkell's.

Straight across the pitch, to the Don Rogers Stand.

Again to the right, with a view of the home Town End.

Arkell's Stand, left, the end section was for Oxford United followers, as it the open away end, which was see part of here.

Here is a better view of the visitors' Stratton Bank.

At the back of the Arkell's is the press area.

Zooming in on the Don Rogers.

Zooming in on the Stratton Bank, modern scoreboard & Rolex 'watch' clock. Apparently the only Rolex timepiece used at any football ground in the world!
Note the family stand sign also. I am guessing that the family section was moved for the day, to to the demand of visiting fans for tickets, & their close proximity to it, if it hadn't been moved for such a high profile match.

Oxford unfurl one of their banners pre-match.

The home brigade have one of theirs at the rear of the Don Rogers.

Another in the corner opposite my stand, prclaiming 'Willtshire's finest'. To be honest...not that difficult in a county with the football pedigree of Wiltshire! ;-)

Another picture of the Stratton Bank.

It can be a bit volatile, as the home fans are taunted in the closest corner of the Don Rogers.

An attempt at an 'arty farty' shot of the pylon shadow...I know, it's rubbish! ;-)

I walk around my stand at half time. Here I am at the bottom right corner, near the home Town End.

From this corner, behind the flag, Don Rogers Stand as the main backdrop.

Turning to my left, along the Arkell's Stand.

Moving along, still the Arkell.

Moving up slightly.

Under the seats, a mural by schoolchildren on the walls.

At the top corner of the Arkell, looking down to the Town End, & Rogers, opposite.

Over the Arkell, leftwards.

Moving down once more, another shot of the Town End.

In the interests of 'balance' the visitors in the open.

More of the Arkell, toward the away end.

Refreshments on sale underneath.

Now back up in the stand.

Past the white barriers is the away secction, with the majority behind the goal.

The 'posh' seats in the centre of the Arkell, for directors, sponsors & assorted bigwigs, I assume, moast enjoying the half time hospitality down below.

From the front, looking up to the away part of the Arkell.

And the Stratton Bank, from pitch level.

Don Rogers Stand on the other side of the pitch.

The dugouts at the front of the Arkell.

Here they are from up above.

A close up, behind one of them.

Club signs above each exit from the stand.

Toward the back of the Arkell, looking down over the halfway line.

At half time the 2012 Olympic torch is shown off round the pitch, the main current Club sponsor Samsung being one of the major Games sponsors.

A home fan in the process of being ejected.

Much to the delight of the visiting ones, where he has to run the gauntlet of their taunts!

His mates aren't too happy!

Meanwhile, behind the Town End, the police 'earn' their wages!

After Oxford take the lead the home fans starting going home early.

Game over, time for the Oxford party.

Time to look over the ground, after it empties. Here we are up in the right hand side of the Arkell, looking down at the Town End.

Over to the Don Rogers.

Left, to the rest of the Arkell.

Away contingent held back in the corner.

I decide to exit via the Town End, so I can get a few more pictures of the County Ground. Here we see along the town End.

From behind the goal we see the Don Rogers once more.

One of the exits behind the goal.

At last! A full front on picture of the Arkell's Stand!

Both sides stand in shot, looking up the pitch, to the away end.

Another look at the Don Rogers Stand.

Here we see it from the bottom corner, with a section for disabled fans at the front.

That concludes the pitches of the stadium, now back to pre-match. The Swindon mascot by the goal.

His Oxford counterpart in the centre circle.

They take part in a penalty shoot-out.

Cheerleaders on the pitch.

The teams enter the field of play.

Handshakes, when they were still obligatory! ;-)

'Pleased to meet you, old boy!'

Mascots & local guests of honour.

The Swindon Town of a manager Paulo Di Canio. Sorry, there's no way I wanted them to win, just for that alone!

Now for the game!

Ha,Ha! Arrivederci! Di Canio gets sent to the stands!

Game over-final score:

Disappointed home players leave the pitch...

As the visitors milk the adulation from their followers!

Time to go home...

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