Pride Park - Derby County
With Christmas Day comes the worry of what to get the Mrs & kids, the cost of it all, this year we`ve also had the bloody weather and traffic problems and now the one day festivity is over normal service can be resumed, and the only present most Pool fans would want, another 3 points on the road. Injuries have piled up, Vaughan`s suspension doesn`t help but the window is less than a week away and if Holloway only has 1 New Years Resolution please let it be that he spends some of the Latvian cash first thing next Friday morning.
How to get there
M55, M6 South to J16. Take the first exit off the roundabout and join the A500. Follow the signs to the A50, then when on the A50 head towards Uttoxeter. The A50 heads to Derby where you join the A38 which is the Derby ring road. The ground is signposted from the 38.
Parking, away fans are offered the Derby Conference Centre at a cost of £5. Parking on the estate is an absolute nightmare and with a large crowd expected you could still be sat there when the whistle blows for Mondays` game.
For the sat navvers - DE24 8XL
For the Virgin lovers amongst us
The ground is about a 10- 15 minute walk from Derby railway station. Leave the station, turn right and at the bottom of the road turn right again and the ground is then visible.
Pride Park is an impressive looking stadium, despite the blandness of the retail park location. With a capacity of 33,500 this ground was built with the Premiership in mind.
The stadium was completed in 1997 and replaced Derby County's previous ground, the Baseball Ground which was Derby`s home for 102 years. It was officially opened by the Queen on the 18th July, with a friendly against Sampdoria following on 4 August.
The first competitive league match to be played there was against Wimbledon. The floodlights failed part way through the match and it had to be abandoned.
Despite the facilities, Derby were unsuccessful in their recent application to be one of the grounds making up the 2018 England World Cup bid.
The view is good, and despite being 12 years old not a fading seat was in sight. Oddly enough one corner is filled completely with executive boxes.
We`ll be sat at one end of the ground. Room for 3,000, despite the weather, despite the fact it`s a family bank holiday, I`d expect around 1000 to make the trek.
Where to drink
As with all new grounds pubs in the immediate area are limited.
Previously we took in the Harvester pub about a 5 minute walk from the ground. I think they charged £5 for parking but we redeemed this cost off some trough inside. A mix of home and away fans all friendly enough, and the pub had programmes on sale inside too. Away haunts are located around the station. Opposite is the Merry Widows, turn right out of the station and make your way down to The Brunswick or Alexandra Hotel. Beer is on sale inside the ground. The Crown & Cushion on London Rd is also a designated away fans pub. There`s also a Holiday Inn Express, Frankie & Benny`s & a New Orleans pub on the retail park.
Plod & Stewards
With it being the festive season, let`s hope it`s a time of goodwill to all men. Friendly enough on my last visit, I`d be surprised if it is anything different this time round.
Fear Factor Rating - 3
It`s been a topsy turvy season on the road so far this year. Who would have thought that after the Barnsleh game we`d walk all over Boro at the Riverside? 4 days later and less than a minute into the game we were facing an uphill struggle at Ipswich. Christmas is a time to renew old acquaintances, and in Barker, Dickov and the one that got away in DJ means that there should be no excuses for not knowing what these 3 bring to the table.
They say it`s better to give than to receive, here`s hoping that come 5pm on Saturday we`ve given Derby nothing other than some of the Christmas worry and that we have gratefully received 3pts in our quest for the promised land.
Onwards + Upwards