Sunday, 3 April 2011

Another away day

Tranmere was a pleasant surprise.

It wasn't that I was expecting a total dump. I know what the surrounds of football ground are like: the old stadia tend to be in built up, inner-city areas. More often than not there's a cross-hatching of 1930s terraced houses packed in tight around the ground. At newer grounds, there may be a car park or, as there is at Stoke, a ridiculously long walk to the stadium which will be on an isolated, bleak hillside.

For Prenton Park, I expected the former, and to a point I wasn't disappointed. It's certainly built up, and the immediate vicinity of the ground seems to be a collection of Indian and Chinese takeaways and low-grade housing. But walk the way I did from the car to the ground, and you'll find a curiously pleasant suburban landscape. There are prim little front gardens with well-kept hedges and immaculate medallions for lawns in front of semi-detached houses. Alongside the pavement there's a grassy verge with trees planted to make the road into a faux-avenue. All in all, it's a quite pleasant little area, considering that there's a football stadium there.

Even the ground itself is more than passable. You can tell it's seen some sights over many years and that the away end's seats have been ill-used by visitors of ages past, but it's certainly not a bad little ground (Tranmere fans won't thank me for calling it small - it has a capacity of 19,000 or so, not significantly smaller than the Galpharm). Yes, the stands seem to be built of corrugated steel and concrete with flimsy seats tacked on, but there's ample legroom, a decent lift from row to row giving a decent view (unless you're directly behind the goalposts and struggle to see through the crossbar - but that's the laws of physics at fault and not the people who built the ground).

Of course your perception of a ground is always helped by a 2-0 victory on a pudding of a pitch. Which is precisely what Town did, despite not playing well. Tranmere came at us and put us under pressure for spells in the second half and we didn't keep the ball like we can, but we scored twice and they scored none. I'll settle for that at this time of the season.

If I do have to make a criticism of the day, it's the roadworks going into Liverpool city centre that held us up for the best part of 45 minutes. Not only were they not signposted, no one told us about them before we set off. Fortunately, we had enough time to get through the queues (not helped by Everton playing at home) to get to Prenton Park with 15-20 minutes or so to kick-off.

All in all, a satisfactory day in the life of a Huddersfield Town fan.

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