August 25, 2014
With thanks to Alan Price for this review of The Amlin Stadium from his visit for the Braintree Town v Gateshead match on Saturday, March 10th 2012.
1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground?
That’s simple – I’d never been to Cressing Road before!
2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
Being a long journey (270 miles each way), it wasn’t easy, but being properly prepared there were no problems. There was ample parking in the club car park, at only £2. The approach to the ground along Clockhouse Way looks a bit weird – have a look at the houses on Google Street View!
3. What you did before the game pub/chippy…. home fans friendly?
As we only got to Braintree around 1:30pm, I didn’t get off the supporters’ bus at the town centre, as I preferred to avoid the hassle of getting to the ground after the pub, and to take maximum opportunity of taking in a new stadium. My friends who made for Wetherspoons were narked to be told they couldn’t buy a drink without ordering a meal!
I never saw any evidence of unfriendliness between fans – this is a proper non-league ground, with supporters who don’t only go there to shout insults at the away fans.
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground.
To be fair, Cressing Road doesn’t do much more than meet Conference Premier standards, but credit to them for investing in their ground despite long-term plans to relocate. The Quag End was out of bounds as the addition of rows of terracing at the back was not quite complete. There was no segregation in place for this game, with the fans exchanging ends at half time in time-honoured non-league tradition. Well, as much as we could, with the Quag End closed. The Main Stand is decent, as is the small covered terrace opposite, but with both ends uncovered, anyone who likes to stand behind the goal could be disappointed if it’s a wet day.
5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..
It was an appalling game from a Gateshead point of view, with our lot going two down within six minutes, and not managing a shot on target until on the stroke of 90 minutes, with a cracking consolation goal. What an insult to fans who travelled for 540 miles and 11 hours to witness a total capitulation.
There was a good atmosphere, and I don’t even recall seeing a steward, but with two fairly civilised sets of fans, there was no need for them. Food was supplied by a mobile unit and was fairly ordinary (not too impressed with the chips), but the other features of the ground were what impressed me. The Club Shop is excellent, with a fantastic range of programmes and books incredibly well set out, as well as other stuff, there was a separate stall selling club-branded clothing, etc., and even a mobile sweet shop! And like the home fans, everyone was friendly. Just the way a football match should be.
6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
No problems getting away from the ground, except that heading away from the Town Centre down Cressing Road to Galleys Corner for the A120, the roundabout was so busy that it was difficult for our driver to get out.
7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out
Well, I’m glad the new ground (for me) was a delight, because the football wasn’t! I’d recommend Cressing Road to anyone who enjoys a proper non-league experience, and especially to anyone who likes a programme shop as they used to be. The shop is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time, it’s clearly a real labour of love. It’s a shame that so many bigger clubs have lost sight of the value of a facility such as this.. .