Issue Not feeling welcome

As told by Richard Wardell

Who else made the trip to the Weston Homes Community Stadium last Saturday for the FA Cup 1st round game against Colchester United?

I imagine that a large proportion of the people in the away section were southern based Bradford City supporters. Did any of you feel unwelcome at this game? I certainly did. It wasn’t the behaviour of the home supporters or the stewards though.

It was the fact that this newish stadium which was opened in 2008 is very isolated on the northern edge of Colchester. The options that you have are to pre-book a car parking space at the ground for which you pay £6, or you can use a park and ride scheme.

My friend and I arrived in plenty of time and having done our homework on the location of the ground and the facilities. This was essential as we ended up having a 25 minute walk from where we parked the car to get to the ground. I don’t mind walking but it was as we approached the stadium that I felt uneasy and not welcome.

Stewards and notices were located at the end of roads near to the ground making me feel like we shouldn’t have made the long journey from Yorkshire. I can understand the local residents not wanting people parking at the end of their driveways and thus blocking access to their house but the “tactics” used weren’t very hospitable. This 25 minute walk made the walk to the New Meadow in Shrewsbury on the opening day of the season feel like a hop, skip and a jump. (People who have been to the New Meadow will understand what I mean.)

Once at the ground we were then greeted with a barcode operating system to enter the ground; no turnstile operator although the steward on the other side of the turnstile was friendly enough. However, even this faceless barcode entry system niggled me. It reminded me of the self scan checkouts that you now find in a supermarket.

I suppose this is a sign of our ever changing society but what has happened to good old face to face communication? (Do I sound like a grumpy old man?)

Maybe Colchester United should have stayed at their old site at Layer Road? At least you could get a good pint at the nearby CAMRA award winning Donkey & Buskins. As for these new grounds, they just feel lifeless and in some cases unwelcoming.