The Carlsberg Stadium
Matchday Number: 234
Wednesday 26th December 2012
Biggleswade Town 2-1 Royston Town
Southern League - Division 1 Central
I had been meaning to visit Biggleswade Town for some time now. I have quite a few mates in the area and they had agreed to come to the game with me if I ever visited. My first 2 attempts had been thwarted - the midweek league game against Slough Town had been twice rearranged due to the visiting side's cup commitments and had even been rearranged again in between me deciding to make this visit and actually going. I was planning to do 2 games today, firstly this one at 12, then Bedford Town v St Neots in another local derby at 3PM. This was in preference to going to Cheltenham v Wycombe, a ground I had been to many times before. They were also charging £20 to get in, and up until Christmas Eve, the game was all ticket - the Gloucestershire side finally reversing their decision after poor ticket sales compared to the support that Wycombe usually took there.
Despite consuming pretty much my weekly allowance of booze on Christmas Day, I didn't feel tipsy in the slightest on the day, and the same applied on Boxing Day as I woke up as fresh as a daisy. There was a pitch inspection due at 9am with the possibility of the game being called off due to a waterlogged pitch. But I was happy to see the news on Twitter that it was game on/ After a quick breakfast, I was on my way just before 10. I had arranged to meet Chaz in Sandy at about 11.15 and that went without a hitch. Then it was onto Biggleswade to meet Jordan, but when we went to see him he was still in bed, so we popped in for a chat for a bit before picking up Ryan in the town and heading off to the ground, getting in to the ground just as it kicked off.
Biggleswade were on fantastic form prior to the game, having won 5 out of their last 6 games and drawing the other. Royston were challenging near the top too, but their form had tailed off recently and they had only on 2 out of the last 6, losing 3 games in that period. I had seen one of those performances, as they lost 2-1 at Rugby Town, giving a good account of themselves, and having the better of the start of the game before Rugby came back into it and deservedly won. I was well on my way to seeing a game at every ground in this league, but had only been to take pictures at Royston, that being on the way to Histon v Barrow back in 2010.
The game was a typical feisty local derby, with plenty of meaty tackles flying in and it shaping up to be a decent game. It was a tricky pitch to play on with all the rain and Royston just about edged the opening stages of the game. But the home side were coming into it more and more and the game turned when a Royston player made one of the most blatant handballs I have seen, tipping the ball over the bar with both hands, as if he were a goalkeeper. There was only going to be one outcome - a sending off, ans a penalty to Biggleswade. Lee Allinson duly scored in and from then on the home side were well on top. Craig Daniels got a second on 37 minutes with a decent strike and with it being 2-0 at half time it looked to be an uphill task for the visitors in the second half. Biggleswade looked to shut up shop and attack on the break during the second half with Royston not looking like making a comeback until the last 10 minutes. Kaan Fehmi eventually got one back around 5 minutes from time and despite having the better of the game from that point on, Royston never looked like seriously threatening an equaliser.
It had been a good game with decent company, and happily Chaz had agreed to come with me to Bedford. But Ryan had family round and so after going into town to place a bet, I dropped him home and headed off to Bedford. Overall I had enjoyed my day at Biggleswade, it was a nice place to visit, and having the company of mates just made it better.
THE CARLSBERG STADIUM is s smart modern ground and despite being built as recently as 2008 was Biggleswade's first home of their own, having previously shared with the town's cricket club. I had previously been to the ground when it was being built back in 2007 on the way to a Peterborough v Wycombe game.
Mostly it was open standing with not too much development but this is the norm with most new grounds at this level. There was a covered stand on each side, one seated and one standing, holding around 200 people in each.
There was an excellent bar which had a better selection of drinks than Wycombe's own Vere Suite, but then again, where doesn't? It has various football memorabilia on the walls, including some shirts from some Premiership teams, and also big screens that could show football when needed. There was also a club shop that looked to have a good selection of old programmes for sale, but it was not open today.
Talking of the programme, it was great value at only a quid, with a fairly good amount of stuff to read, especially for what it cost. The paper was a bit thinner than most, and it had a bit of a home made feel, but that gave it a certain charm. Most other clubs, even in this league charge £2 and while a lot of them are a bit slicker, they don't have much more content and certainly aren't twice as good as this one