Ground Guide: The Keepmoat Stadium
What do Doncaster and Blackpool have in common? Actually quite a bit more than most people probably realise. We`ll both have fans who`ll love to hate Richie Wellens. Both have grounds (albeit Donny`s is actually completed) that have risen from the ashes, literally, and both have had chairmen that have courted the wrong side of the law. Both came up from Wembley glory and both have settled nicely in to this league. So far this season we sit 9 pts ahead of Doncaster, although their display at Newcastle last Saturday belied their lower position. Saturday will prove to be an interesting game.
How to get there:
M55, M6 leave at J30 and join the M61.At the end of the 61 join the M60 keeping left and follow the signs for Halifax / Leeds. Leave the M60 and join the M62. Leave the 62 at J32a and join the A1 South. Leave the A1(M) at junction 35, then at roundabout take the 1st exit, then join the M18 motorway (signposted Hull, Goole M62E, Sc***horpe M180). Leave the M18 at junction 3, then at roundabout take the 1st exit onto the A6182 (signposted Doncaster). At the roundabout take the 2nd exit onto the A6182 (signposted Doncaster) the ground should be within sight.
For the sat navvers - DN4 5JW.
For the Virgin lovers amongst us - Doncaster Station is about two miles away so it`s a Joe baxi to the ground. If you do fancy the long walk (around 25-30 minutes) then as you come out of the station turn right and then keep straight on this road (the A 6182 Trafford Way) and you will eventually reach the ground on your left.
The bus service has been improved for match days. From around two hours before kick-off there is a dedicated shuttle service from the Doncaster Interchange bus station, which is adjacent the train station and under the Frenchgate Shopping Centre. This is Route 75X and runs every 10 minutes direct to the Stadium. It leaves Stand C6 and the journey takes less than 10 minutes depending on traffic. The bus stops in a lay-by at the Ground, close to the Ticket Office and after the match leave for Doncaster Interchange from the same place. Cost is £1.10 each way.
What`s the ground like?:
Originally the club didn't have a permanent ground until 1885 when they started playing their games from the Intake Ground. They played their football here until August 1914 when the club went into liquidation. A new company did take over the club soon after but all English league competition was suspended in 1915 due to the First World War and the club was closed down and the ground was turned into an Army base. The club did eventually reform in 1920 after the war's end and due to losing their old ground to the Army were forced to build a new ground. The ground was called Belle Vue and initially had a 10,000 capacity. Doncaster played their first game there in 1922. Belle Vue was Doncaster's home for 84 years and in that time only received one major upgrade when in 1938 the grounds capacity was increased to 40,000. Renamed the Earth Stadium in 2003, The Keep Moat Stadium opened on New Year`s day 2007 against Huddersfield Town, replacing 'Belle Vue` as the home of Doncaster.
With a capacity 15,300, away fans are seated in The North Stand behind the goal, with room for up to 3,000 fans. Like Swansea`s Liberty Stadium the pitch is a mixture of artificial weaving from a desser machine and turf as they too have the local rugby team playing on it, as well as the Doncaster Belles ladies team, the athletic club, and it hosted an opening game of last weekend`s 4 nation Rugby League tournament.
We commented on the way home last year how we thought the stadium was 'bland` and devoid of atmosphere.
Where to drink?:
Ah Donny Donny Donny, I`ve visited the town dozens of times through work and it`s a fantastic night out with plenty of happy memories. The town is full of decent pubs, you are literally spoilt for choice. The ground is situated on a lakeside setting and (suprise, suprise) the nearest boozer to the ground is called The Lakeside. We visited here last season and had more pool fans in there than locals. We enjoyed it so much we stayed there after the game too.
Plod + Stewards:
Last season I found the stewards to be most helpful, laying out the flag etc. Although some fans were 'removed` from the ground and the chase by the stewards for the solitary Donny fan over the seats and through the box area was legendary keystone cops material.
Fear Factor Rating - 1
What a season so far. A hard earned point at Swansea last Saturday meant the 3rd clean sheet on the bounce, although we ended up dropping down 4 places. Saturday will be another tough test, our away form is nowhere near what it was last season but win at home and draw away and you won`t be far away come May. It`s tight at the top and it`s a pleasure to be there. Here`s hoping that come 5pm on Saturday we`ve worked our way back in to the top 6.
Onwards + Upwards