My Matchday - 271 Whaddon Road

Cheltenham Town 1v1 Morecambe
League Two
Saturday 20th November 2010

For a second consecutive week I caught the 0744 Cross Country Trains service from Newcastle to Plymouth. Last week I alighted in Tamworth but this week I travelled a further 70 miles south to the edge of the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire for my first ever visit to Cheltenham.
The town was awarded a market charter in 1226 and became a holiday spa town resort after the discovery of mineral springs in 1716. The spa waters continue to be taken recreationally at Pittville Pump Room, built for this purpose and completed in 1830.
The town is famously known for the annual national hunt horse racing meeting - The Cheltenham Festival, which takes place every March, which includes its feature race the Gold Cup.
Horse racing began in Cheltenham in 1815 with the festival established in 1902.
The meeting is the equivalent of racing’s world cup, annually attracting tens of thousands of visitors (mostly Irish folk and of course not forgetting Stevie Charla....Eddy)

Cheltenham Town Football Club was founded in 1887, formed when Mr Albert Close White returned home from college in London to take up a teaching post. White discovered the game of association football whilst away studying and introduced the sport to the town on his return. Trials were held at the local Cricket Ground and a new football club was born.
The club spent its primary years playing local football, turning professional in the early 1930’s when joining the Birmingham Combination.
The Robins played in the Southern League for half a century from 1935 until joining the Alliance Premier League after winning the Southern League Premier Division in 1984-85.
The club were relegated in 1992 but returned to the Conference in 1997 and within two seasons won promotion to the Football League, coupled with victory in the 1998 FA Trophy final, beating Southport 2-0 with the backing of 19,000 Robins fans at Wembley.

The club previously played on three grounds within half a mile of their current home, Agg-Gardner's Recreation Ground, Whaddon Lane and Carter's Field before moving to the Victory Ground on Whaddon Road in 1932.
The ground originally had a low wooden main stand, filling the stand with seats borrowed from Gloucestershire CCC, which were returned again in the spring.
Floodlights were installed in the 1950’s and upgraded ten years later along with the building of the Main Stand at an original cost of £25,000.
The stand has the familiar classic look, similar in design to the main stand which once stood at Morecambe’s Christie Park. Now known as the Stagecoach Main Stand, access is gained via staircases at each side which leads to a single tier of red seats, with terracing at the front. Sitting centrally between each 18 yard box, the rest of this end is filled with open terrace to either side with an overall capacity of 1,800.

Opposite is the In2Print Stand which was opened in November 2001 and holds 2,034, having the same design as The Carlsberg Stand which was opened four years later with a capacity of 1,100 fans. Both stands were built by Barr Construction, having a single tier of red seats with the club name and ‘Robins’ picked out in white. The stands are the same height and meet in the corner, where there would have been room for a few more seats if it wasn’t for the intruding floodlight pylon. The Carlsberg Stand also has a small scoreboard on the roof facia above the goal.
The old Chicken Run was replaced by a new full covered terrace in 1990, the main standing area for supporters is now the Speedy Skips Stand, which is a fully covered shallow terrace behind the goal which was opened in August 2000.
The record attendance still stands at 8,326 for a 1st Round FA Cup tie against Reading in November 1956 and from April 2009 the ground was renamed the Abbey Business Stadium for sponsorship purposes.
Cheltenham and Morecambe met just a fortnight ago in the 1st Round of the FA Cup, the Robins narrowly coming out on top courtesy of a goal from Wesley Thomas. That game may still have been fresh in the players memory, as both teams snuffed each other out in a hard fought out draw.
The hosts were the better side in the first half and went in front just before the break when Wesley Thomas broke down the left, his scuffed shot found Josh Low who tapped into an unguarded net.
Morecambe were on top after the break as Paul Mullin shot wide, with Andy Fleming and Adam Rundle also going close for the Shrimpers.
The visitors finally grab a deserved equaliser when awarded a penalty after Martin Riley fouled James Spencer. Jevons coolly converted the spot-kick for his fifth goal in four games and secure a well earner point.

Nothing much to report on this trip I’m afraid to say, nothing out of the ordinary, basically just a standard day at the football with a few pre match drinks. I arrived at noon and took the longish walk from the railway station to the town centre, which isn’t as far as the ground guides make out, only taking around 20 minutes.
I visited both the JDW pubs and a couple on the High Street - The Old Restoration, (which is excellent) and The Swan, as well as the Kemble Brewery after the game.
My journey home was via Derby, being careful not to make the same mistake as one of my work colleagues, who last week went to Cheltenham Races and fell asleep on the train. Having missed his connection he spent the night in Derby, resulting in some poor bugger having to travel down the following day and pick him up instead of coughing up the hundred quid train fare.(mentioning no names Hogey!)
Whaddon Road is pretty much what I expected, a mixture of old and new. The old Main Stand remains from their Non League days and new stands added as the Robins continue to established themselves as one of the 92.
The town itself is much bigger than I expected, being more like a city than a town and it’s yet another place I’ve visited which is perfect for my typical day out at the match. The town has plenty of choice regarding hostelries and eating places, so it’s a good day out for visiting football fans, and of course it‘s easy to understand how the Cheltenham Festival is so popular with racing punters worldwide.

Matchday stats
CTFC 1(Thomas 43)MFC 1(Jevon 80pen)
admission £15

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