On 1st March 2011 I decided to visit the new Chesterfield ground, the B2Net Stadium. I was working in Leeds this week, so took the opportunity to visit Chesterfield. Its a 50 mile or so trip from Leeds, which is far easier than the 200 miles from my home to Chesterfield.
This is Chesterfield’s first season at this ground. Previously they played at Saltergate. I visited this ground to watch Spennymoor United in the FA Cup in 1990/1991. That was a game that ended in defeat for Spennymoor, but the whole team, especially the goalkeeper received a standing ovation from both sets of fans for a tremendous effort.
The View From The Away End At Saltergate (above)
Aerial View of Saltergate
As Chesterfield have moved ground, it meant I needed to visit the new ground to keep up my right to membership of the 92 Club.
So, armed only with my Camera, my Sat Nav and my wallet, I drove to Chesterfield on Tuesday night. The first thing is that the Sat Nav did not recognise the postcode of the new ground as it did not exist when the maps for my Sat Nav were created. no problem as I knew the name of a side street near the ground, so used that instead.
Arriving at the new ground, I was surprised to find that I was able to park for free on the streets near the ground. No parking restrictions is unusual near a new ground. In fact, I was able to park on the main Sheffield Road, about 1 minute from the ground.
A quick visit to the chippie for sustenance, then off to the ground. First sight of the ground indicated it was a rather tidy ground with 4 stands of equal height. There is a car park at the ground, but it is ticket only.
External View of the B2Net Stadium ( thanks to www.footballgroundguide.com for the picture)
As with many new grounds, you cannot pay at the turnstiles, you have to queue up to buy a ticket at the ticket office, then queue again to get in the turnstiles. Customer friendly? Well, I couldn’t find the ticket office for the home sections of the ground. I did however see long queues for the home turnstiles. Despite this being a top of table clash ( Chesterfield 1st and Wycombe 2nd in the table) So, I headed for the away end and the ticket office there. I bought my ticket and entered the ground.
There were more away fans than I had expected for a Tuesday night game. Its quite a trek from Wycombe to Chesterfield. Sadly, the Muppet with the drum had made it to the ground. I was very tempted to put that drum somewhere the sun didn’t shine. I go to watch football, not listen to someone repeatedly bang his drum, it is annoying and irritating.
Anyway, the game had just kicked off, when I was approached by 2 stewards and threatened with being evicted from the ground. My crime?
Foul language? – no
Invading the pitch? – no
Goading rival fans? – no
No, the reason I was going to be evicted was for using my little digital camera to take a few snaps of the ground for my collection. Bizarrely I was told I could take as many pictures as i liked with a phone camera, but not a small digital camera. I could understand it if I was using a camera like the professionals use, but the camera I have could not take anything more than photos for personal use.
The Four Stands at the B2Net
I explained that there was nothing in the ground rules to prevent personal pictures being taken. The 2 stewards were quite good and did back down. I did suggest to one of them that if he wanted to confiscate anything he should confiscate that bloody drum. He told me that if he had been searching people at the turnstiles, the drum would not have got in! Shame he wasn’t there then.
I have to say that being threatened with eviction after 2 minutes of a game does not beat my personal best. Several seasons ago, I got ejected from a ground 15-20 minutes before the start of a pre season friendly between two teams I did not support. I was ejected the second I got into the ground that day! Why? Well the steward outside the ground told me I could not take a bottle of water into the ground on a very hot day & I had to tip it away, so I did, shame it went all over his feet. Tom who was with me that day got the chief steward down who immediately bollocked the stewards, apologised to me and ordered them to let me in the ground. Well done Tom, he knows how to play the system – he’s been taught well.
Back to Chesterfield, that game itself was a great advert for football. Chesterfield in particular were well up for it and took the lead after 27 minutes. They got a second a few minutes later from the penalty spot. The foul happened directly in front of me and I have no doubt it was a penalty. The Wycombe fans in the same section saw it differently and it was funny to see the contorted faces and rage of them. Several tried to get to the referee but were restrained by the stewards.
Futile Protests by Wycombe Players
Wycombe Fans Demonstrating their Displeasure
The game ended 4-1 to Chesterfield. The only disappointing thing was the size of the crowd which was over 1000 less than the season’s highest. This was a shame as it was a table top clash. I spent most of the second half playing with the settings on my camera and taking lots of pictures.
A swift departure at then end of the game had me back at my hotel in Leeds well before 10:30. In fact I was back just as my fellow inspectors were returning from their night at the comedy club – no not Leeds United.
Another ground, another tale to tell and I managed to avoid being ejected this time.