My Matchday - 261 Globe Arena

Morecambe 1v1 Gillingham
League Two
Saturday 28th August 2010
Morecambe was a favoured holiday destination when I was a bairn, and I don’t mean the ill fated The World of Crinkley Bottom attraction in Happy Mount Park.
I fondly remember spending a few summers in the late 1970’s boarding the coach at Gallowgate bus station with my Mam & Dad and sister Gillian on route to Pontins at Middleton Tower.
The holiday camp was based around a huge building in the style of an ocean liner built in the centre of a large lake. I don’t look back with much nostalgia at these holidays. I spent most of the week suffering from asthma due to the thick woollen blankets in the chalets, sprouting a face full of spots due to the overcooked fried bread breakfasts and having no money left by Sunday after blowing my pocket money in the amusement arcade.
After 30 years apart, I’ve frequently returned to this Lancashire seaside town over the past two years. My last visit for football reasons was early in 2009 when ticking off Christie Park, for a League Two clash with Gillingham, so for my latest return to visit the town’s spanking new stadium, Morecambe again faced The Gills for the first time since that fixture took place.
Going into kick off both teams were without a league win between them this season and come the final whistle that unwanted record remained intact, both having to settle for a share of the points.
Gills were the dominant side in the first half, Shrimps skipper Barry Roche keeping his team in the game, pulling off a string of fine saves to twice deny danger man Barcham and producing a splendid double save from Bentley and Spiller.
Morecambe improved in the second half and after a lively start took the lead just before the hour mark. Craig Stanley got on the end of a Mark Duffy cross with a free header from 12 yards.
Gillingham made a double substitution with a quarter of an hour remaining and finished the game strongly. Danny Spiller grabbed the equaliser on 83 minutes, getting on the end of a Palmer free kick to score from a tight angle at the far post.
Spiller wasted a golden opportunity to win the game, blazing over from 12 yards and Roche again denied Barcham with another great save to earn his side a well earned point.

The Globe Arena cost around £12m and is built by Globe Construction, who claim the naming rights having agreed a £250,000 five year sponsorship deal.
After 89 years at Christie Park, work on the 6,476 capacity stadium began in May 2009, a year later than originally planned due to delays with planning, sales and legal agreements. The construction of the Main Stand began in September 2009 with the other three stands developed at the turn of the year.
After a bit of a false start with all three pre-season fixtures postponed, the stadium opened in time for Morecambe first competitive home match of the season against Coventry City in the 1st Round of the Carling Cup on August 10th. The occasion was marked with a 2-0 win with the honour of the first goals at the Arena scored by Andy Fleming.

The Main Stand has a capacity of 2,173 and is named after chairman Peter McGuigan, in recognition of his 10 years in charge of the club.
The stand has all the facilities which the club previously lacked with five private boxes, sponsors lounges, sizable press area and a large hospitality suite which isn’t just used on match day but throughout the year.
The stand runs pitch length, decked out in gleaming white seats with a red section in the centre which is in front of the hospitality and private boxes.
There are covered terraces behind each goal. The West Stand is called the MBW Stand, named after the local wine business and holds 2,234 home spectators, with two disabled sections situated at the front.
The opposite stand is slightly smaller, set further back with the bottom of the terrace parallel with the crossbar. The East Terrace is known as The Bay Radio Stand and accommodates 1,389 visiting fans.
The Main Stand looks across to the Open Terrace which is an uncovered standing section which is reminiscent of the old Car Wash Stand at Christie Park. The 606 capacity terrace is split into two sections with a refreshment area and TV gantry block in between, as well as a large community block in the north east corner.
I headed up to Morecambe via the M6 from the Smudgers bank holiday weekend base in the outskirts of Blackpool. On arrival after a quick look at the ground I met up with 100FgC squad#155 James Little for a pre match drink at the William Mitchell pub, which is only a ten minute walk from the stadium and has a good selection of ales and also allows free use of their car park.
Edinburgh based James had already visited the Globe Arena for the Carling Cup tie with Coventry City. His description of the new ground was “An upmarket version of what they used to have”
A few more of the 100FgC squad got in touch prior to my impending visit to give their opinions, having attended last Tuesday’s clash with Burnley in the Carling Cup.
#86.Jim Morris described it as “A great day out with friendly stewarding, motorbike parking and photos allowed”
#83.Ralph Pomeroy added “Not bad for a new one .. its very much like an updated Christie Park” while one of our newest members of the squad #161.Micheal Swaffield said “We all thought that the Shrimps had replicated what they had before, although the main stand did look more modern! See if you spot the floodlight at the away end that looks out of position!
So the general consensus amongst the squad seemingly suggests that Morecambe have produced a modern day version of Christie Park, however I have read of issues concerning the restricted view in the Main Stand and the width of the alleyways, so I will be interested to read other reviews to subsequent visitors to the stadium.

I’d like to thank Morecambe for their hospitality, especially Derek Quinn for making me feel welcome. He told me to enjoy myself and to “Be nice to us” in my report. But how could I be unkind to such a friendly and hospitable club such as Morecambe? The club, players and their fans seem to have taking to their new surroundings like a duck to water (Shouldn’t that be Shrimp to water…Eddy) so I’d like to wish them all the best in their 21st century version of Christie Park.

Matchday stats
MFC 1(Stanley 59)GFC 1(Spiller 83)
Admission (PP)
seats:£16-£22 standing:£13-£15

1 comment:

Michael said...

Middleton Towers. I think half the population of Tyneside has been there (well, the over-30s anyway). Parts of that ground look a dead ringer for Burton Albion. Do they all work to the same plans?