Ground: Whaddon Road
Date: 30th December 2011
Match: Cheltenham - Rotherham 1-0 (League 2)
Attendance: 3 582
As in recent years I decided to go to England around New Year for some football. With my last game being in early November I was more than pleased when I found out it was possible to visit five new grounds in as many days. Before this trip I only had two Premiership grounds (Swansea & West Bromwich) left to visit and I "built" the trip around their matches. With Cheltenham being at home on Friday evening I decided to start the trip with a visit to Whaddon Road and the League 2 match between Cheltenham and Rotherham. As Cheltenham is situated (almost in the middle) between West Bromwich and Swansea I also decided to stay in Cheltenham for most of the trip. In the end I didn't get a ticket for Swansea-Tottenham but that is another story.
I left home at 8am on Friday morning and two hours later I was at Copenhagen airport. The flight to Heathrow went smoothly and by 13.45, much earlier than expected, I was at Paddington station. I had a Railpass for this trip so I could board any train I wanted. There was a direct train train to Cheltenham Spa at 14.12 and as I was at Paddington so early I made this train, without my Railpass I would probably have bought a ticket for a later train. Anyway, I arrived in Cheltenham by 16.35 (20 minutes late) and 20 minutes later I was at my hotel, The Bradley. This family-ran hotel only has five rooms and was therefore more of a B&B. It has only been opened for 8 months and I received a very warm welcome. "When do you want breakfast?" We are flexible so you can have breakfast whenever you like". Now that is what I call service!
Later in the evening I made my way to Whaddon Road, or Abbey Business Stadium as it is called nowdays. It was a fairly long walk (25 minutes) from my hotel meaning from the train station it is a very long walk. Whaddon Road is a mixture of new and old. The capacity nowdays is around 7 100 (3 900 seats). The main stand is an old-style English (lower league) stand. The home terrace is also old-style while the other two stands are quite new modern all-seated stands. They were opened in 2001 and 2005. As soon as I had entered the stadium I took a few pictures, as I always do. This time I was approached by a steward. "No camera, no pictures" was his message. I went over to the other side of the stand and took some more pictures, assuming he couldn't see me. When I went back to my seat the steward approached me again. "Oops, I will be ejected" was going through my mind. Not at all, the steward apologised. "I do apologise, you are allowed to take pictures as long as it is not during the match" was his message this time. He then told me it was only his 2nd match as a steward and he had mis-understood the rules..
When the match started Rotherham, backed by some 315 fans, started the best. Cheltenham scored first though, with their first shot on goal. Both teams then had chances to score but in the end it finished 1-0 to Cheltenham. On my way back to my hotel I lost my orientation and was a bit lost before finding the right way. It took quite a while though but at least I now know what Cheltenham city centre looks like at night!
Hazlewoods Stand (South Stand)
Speedy Skips Stand (North Stand)
In2Print Stand (East Stand)
View of Whaddon Road
View of play