Stevenage v Millwall – 25 July 2017

 

Second game in and already my first ‘schoolboy’ error

It’s been a long time since I’ve paid at the turnstile for a game and I rarely carry cash.  As I reached the old-fashioned entrance to the West Stand I realised contactless was not going to be welcome here. Fortunately the guy manning the turnstile directed me to a nearby Tesco, 20 minutes down the road. 20 minutes was a massive over-exaggeration and I returned, cash-in-hand, in time to get a programme and drinks as well as see the end of the warm-ups.

Score: 0-0
Attendance: unknown
Ticket price: £12
Programme: £2
Refreshments bought: one bottle of water and one bottle of coke (£2.50)
Star player: Joe Fryer (Stevenage – GK)

The stadium is more impressive inside than outside as much of it isn’t visible as you approach on foot from the station. The first thing I saw was the old fashioned turnstiles. After returning from my trip to the cash point, I discovered the outside of the main stand, club shop, player and media entrances. This part actually reminded of a car dealership with a few of the player’s shiny motors outside adding to the effect.

Once inside I had a better view of the Lamex Stadium. The seated West Stand runs down one side of the pitch and the terraced East Terrace down the other. This allows supporters the option of sitting or standing and a good view either way. Standing for league games is £4 cheaper. Visiting fans are housed in the modern South Stand and the club are currently looking for funding to modernise the small shed-like North Terrace. The camera gantry above the East Terrace adds some character and good value food and drink are available in quaint little refreshment huts at three of the four corners.

The programme was a fold-out fixture wallchart that included key info about tickets for upcoming games, confirmed dates for cup ties and a lowdown on the opposition. I assume it was minimalist due to pre-season but I actually really liked this simple approach and it must be considerably cheaper to produce than a full programme. It was very well designed as well.

The game was typical of a pre-season encounter but you could also tell it wasn’t long until both clubs kicked-off their seasons for real. The game was a few notches up on the physicality scale than my trip to Barnet a couple of weeks ago. As the score suggests both sides lacked cutting edge up front but Millwall had left their first choice forwards behind. Stevenage keeper (on loan from Hartlepool) Joe Fryer was also very impressive and many home fans already seemed resigned to losing him to a bigger fish in the near future.

An enjoyable trip despite a lack of quality on show and a crowd not quite large enough to provide a hint at what the atmosphere might normally be like. I didn’t have the same desire to go back for a ‘proper’ game as I did when I left Barnet but if I did go back I’d definitely drive. There was a decent sized car park opposite the ground and the walk to the station was a solid 20 mins once you’ve got your bearings and plotted your route. I only spotted one sign on route to confirm I was heading the right way. Trains to and from Kings Cross and Finsbury Park are regular, however, and the walk does pass several well-known fast food chains, so it’s not all bad.