Coventry City - Ricoh Arena
Some ground names just sound modern. Not that Highfield Rd conjured up visions of a grand football ground lost forever, but there are something's that tell you all about a ground in its name. With that we pay our second ever visit to the new home of Coventry City. Yes they have a ground we would die for, with all the trappings associated with a modern stadium, and then that's it. A blue elephant mascot paraded around the pitch there last season. It's like towns and cities don't want football in their midst and like most modern grounds the Ricoh is banished to a life with a retail park as a neighbour, not so much of a blue elephant, more like a white elephant.
How to get there
M55 M6 South, all the way down to J3 then as simple as follow the signs to the stadium along the A444.
For the non believers - leave at J3, sign posted Coventry North, then at the roundabout take the 4th exit on to Phoenix way - the A444. At the next roundabout take the 1st exit on to Rowleys Green Lane. At the next roundabout take the 2nd exit on to Judds Lane - your there.
Parking - last season I opted for the £10 place literally 20yds from the away end, handy but expensive, and a queue and a half at the end of the match to get away from the ground.
For the Virgin lovers amongst us the main city train station is over 6 miles away. A joey at a cost between a few of you would beat the public transport on offer.
Open almost 4 years at a cost of £113million there's no denying the Ricoh looks impressive. The huge glassed reception area must make a pleasant sight for visiting teams, and inside the running track around the pitch conjures up memories of the Shay over 25 years ago. Legroom was good but last season we were that distant from the far goal that Andy Morrells penultimate Pool goal almost passed us by. Perhaps it was because it was a midweek game and despite over 1100 Pool fans making the trek last season the atmosphere inside was a bit soulless, despite the efforts of the elephant and the cheerleaders. Room for up to 3000 away fans and I expect around the 1100 mark to travel again.
Where to drink
When enquiring last season we were told 'there's a pub over there, but I wouldn't recommend it for away fans', hence with the old man with us we stuck to the beer inside the ground. This season we'll be around early doors and the pub of choice is a good distance away. For those looking for something a bit closer to the ground, the main gist suggests Longford - an alleged 10 minute walk to the ground. The Blackhorse has been the pub for away fans, there is the Longford Engine and the bar in the Novotel walking towards the ground. The Rose and Crown on Walsgrave Road and Phat Larrys, the hand and Heart are both about 4 miles away.
There is ale on sale inside the ground for away fans.
Plod & Stewards
I can honestly say that I cannot remember anything about the stewards from my last visit, so more of the same please.
Fear Factor Rating - 3
With a missing Saturday match last week we must believe that we can bounce back after our cup defeat in what is the first of 3 tough looking games in the next 10 days. These are challenging times ahead and with our away form being better than our home the travelling faithful can look with some optimism to this match and here's hoping that the blue sky is shining down on the mighty come 5 o'clock Saturday evening.
Onwards + Upwards