Match Day With The Missus Sees George & Amy head to Accrington vs. Newport
– “Fortunately for me, Amy wasn’t targeted by the ‘sophisticated sex robot sent back through time to change the future for one lucky lady’”
– “We thought we’d switch it up this week and went for a cheeseburger instead of the normal half-time pie”
– “The major talking point of the half for us though was the size of David Pipe, Newport’s right back. He could probably lift an articulated lorry with one arm and has without doubt maxed out every machine he’s ever been on in a gym.”
With the cold intensifying and winter drawing in, we thought it’d be a great idea to go to one of the most exposed grounds in English football. Amy, sporting her new yellow coat, was perfectly kitted out in Newport County’s colours to see if they could put an end to their poor run of form.
Up against them were Accrington Stanley, who started the day just a point off top spot. With everything to play for, it was time for Amy to experience her first ever League Two game – she couldn’t contain her excitement…
On the Road:
As per usual, we opted to travel to the game by train, only setting us back a tenner. Some trains are direct to Accrington from Manchester Victoria so it generally it isn’t too bad getting there. Sadly though, the seating was clearly designed for hobbits. At Six-Foot I’m only slightly above average height but it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say my knees were above my head. I looked like Peter Crouch driving a reliant robin.
From the station you’ve got about a 20 minute walk ahead of you with a fair majority of it uphill. This is where Amy seriously regretted overdoing the Romanian deadlifts at the gym the day before. She frequently let me know about it of course… Amy complaining? Short odds on that one. On the plus side, there’s plenty of places to eat or drink on the way to the ground whether you want a sit down meal or just something to take with you.
Next to the viaduct there’s a McDonald’s and a couple of pubs on the way up as well. For all you cheapskates there’s an off-licence too, should you wish to wet your whistle pre-match.
This isn’t meant with any disrespect, but the Crown Ground or, by its current sponsored title, the Wham Stadium, really emphasises how impressive Accrington Stanley’s recent success has been. It holds just over 5,000 people with almost 2,000 of that being terraced. The match was hardly a long ball fest but, to put into context how small the ground is, three balls had gone out just twelve minutes in.
The away end has no cover so you are at the mercy of the conditions. When we arrived Amy and I started having flashbacks of our trip to Chorley just 15 miles down the road during the height of Storm Brian (with hindsight, the worst decision we’ve ever made). It was stupidly cold but, luckily, remained dry. The toilets and club shop reminded me of the poor sod who got the box room in a shared flat at uni but the staff were excellent and dead welcoming- all you can ask for really.
Tickets on the day were £20 for an adult, £15 for concessions and under 18s and £5 for under 12s. These are universally accepted prices in English football- I understand why my Dad was always keener to go to a match whenever it was ‘kids for a quid’ now. Shocking that not a single Wham song was played while we were there though.
We thought we’d switch it up this week and went for a cheeseburger instead of the normal half-time pie. No complaints about the pretty standard £4.00 but the option of having ketchup or mustard in bottle form was a real game changer. This may sound overdramatic, but the disappearance of bottled condiments around English football grounds is one of the biggest tragedies of the modern game. Well done Accrington Stanley, we salute you for not bowing to convention.
Amy felt the burger itself was pretty good and the meat-onion-bread ratio was also impressive. I can’t comment- to say I was hungry would be an understatement- it wasn’t eaten, it was absorbed. Beyond burgers, there were plenty of food and drink options such as hot drinks, hot dogs and pies all priced at £2.50. A bottle of beer was £3.00 so, again, kind of what you’d expect. Overall the catering facilities weren’t bad at all.
Newport took just under 200 fans which, at first glance, isn’t many. At the same time though, it’s a four hour car journey (410 mile round-trip) before you even consider the traffic around Birmingham or Manchester. It’s not necessarily about the quantity of your fans but how vocal and supportive they are.
Newport find themselves only just outside the play offs after last season’s relegation scare but the Exiles ticked all the boxes in this case and had some funny original chants. A personal favourite was “1-0 to the sheep-shaggers”… it’s always important to be able to take the mick out of yourself. They were also Amy’s favourite away fans so far given her worryingly irrational obsession with the Welsh accent.
Newport started the game the brighter of the two and not just because of their yellow kits. The Exiles’ Frank Nouble got involved early on and had a couple of decent chances while Accrington’s main threat came from the in-form Kayden Jackson. The latter’s pace in behind was beginning to cause problems and he managed to beat goalkeeper Joe Day to a 50-50, drawing a foul in a dangerous area.
The major talking point of the half for us though was the size of David Pipe, Newport’s right back. He could probably lift an articulated lorry with one arm and has without doubt maxed out every machine he’s ever been on in a gym.
Into the second half and Newport were out the traps quickly to break the deadlock. A short corner caught Accrington’s defence napping and Frank Nouble smashed a right foot shot, on the turn, into the top corner.
Although the lead at that point was probably deserved, the away side sat back and invited pressure, hoping to catch Accrington on the counter. After hitting the woodwork and having a shot cleared off the line, Stanley eventually equalised through Mallik Wilks in the 88th minute following a goalmouth scramble. Overall, given the balance of play, a draw was a fair result and both sides could be happy with their efforts.
Man of the Match: Frank Nouble
The centre forward had a thankless task leading the line with Padraig Amond but took his only clear cut chance to make it 1-0. He was always a threat with his pace, power and aerial ability too. Special mention also goes to Newport’s Ben White, currently on loan from Brighton. Composed with or without possession, the young defender has got a bright future.
Amy’s Man of the Match: David Pipe
Amy liked his nickname ‘Pipey’ and how he “ran around a lot and shouted at people”. She also thought he looked more like a rugby player than a footballer… not sure how that warrants Man of the Match but this isn’t my segment so I’ll ‘pipe’ down. Pun 100% intended, sorry, not sorry.
Highlight of the Day:
On the way to the game there was a lad on the train who was the spitting image of American Pie’s Chuck ‘the Shermanator’ Sherman. Fortunately for me, Amy wasn’t targeted by the ‘sophisticated sex robot sent back through time to change the future for one lucky lady’. Hopefully that reference isn’t too dated.
Amy’s Highlight of the Day:
A young mascot who couldn’t have been older than two or three was having a kick about on the pitch before the game. The ball just about came up to their waist as they took Roberto Carlos style run ups to kick and dribble. They were decent as well… Liverpool will likely put in a £35 million bid in January.
Thanks for reading! George and Amy