TT GROUNDHOPPING – CHESTERFIELD (A) by Rowena Williams

TT GROUNDHOPPING

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Rowena Williams – @RowenaWilliams1

I have a lot of love for an away day at Chesterfield, so this felt like the perfect return to live football for me since the pandemic hit. This time it was a particularly emotive visit as we would always tie this in with a visit to my Nan’s house, as she lived just 15 miles away in a small town called Ripley and sadly passed away last year.

The journey up was, well, interesting. The whole country seemed to be embroiled in another hoarding panic, replacing their toilet roll forts with surplus petrol having been told not to panic buy (a message that always works so well). Luckily, we had thought ahead so, while we still had to navigate the busier than normal roads, we could avoid the lengthy queues at the petrol stations and instead concentrate on our journey.

We set off early and were in no rush, so we were able to enjoy the sunny weather and a slower drive up. One of my favourite things about an away day journey is seeing all the other fans and teams making their own trips, and our pitstop at the service station didn’t disappoint with plenty of football shirts to be seen and players and fans milling around.

After a slow journey the wonky spire finally came into view, and we arrived at the newly named Technique Stadium (sponsorship hey!). Having ordered our tickets online we went to pick them up from the club shop which was all very straightforward and friendly. As we came out of the shop the Torquay players arrived in a very posh looking bus ready to warm up – how times have changed since Kevin Nicholson used to have to drive the minibus to away days!

For me, a great part of an away day is visiting the local pub. At Chesterfield, The Glassworks was the pub of choice being so close to the ground with a nice atmosphere, cheap pints and a mixture of home and away fans.

Half an hour before kick off we headed to the ground encountering a small amount of internet ‘scientists’ who were intent on spreading anti-vaccine propaganda. I’ll give them credit for impressive signage but luckily both sets of fans were equally disdainful and they didn’t get the attention they were obviously craving.

On arrival at the ground it was easy to find the entrance to the away end and, from the onset, the stewards were friendly, welcoming and helpful. There are plenty of facilities in Chesterfield’s stadium but it’s a real shame that they charge so much for food and drinks. On top of £18 for a ticket the prices feel high and £3 for a cup of tea just feels like cashing in.

132 fans made the trip up and there was a good atmosphere coming off the back of a win last week. The sun was out, the pitch looked great and it’s always exciting to have BT Sport filming (especially as this means Chris Hargreaves can be found nearby).

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The Yellow Army was in full voice throughout the first half, and it was great to be back in a football stadium again, especially one as nice as Chesterfield’s with its impressive capacity and excellent away section right behind the goal. Having had a successful start to the season there were plenty of Chesterfield fans making lots of noise, however, due to the large capacity of the stadium it always ends up looking like a quiet home crowd while they continue to be a National League club and don’t fill the empty seats, cue the chant ‘Your ground’s too big for you’. Torquay held their own despite Chesterfield pressing hard. The Gulls even nearly went a goal up before half time, therefore going into the second half there was a feeling of optimism from both sets of fans.

During the beginning of the second half both sets of fans went a little quiet before the goals began. After the Spireites’ second the Yellow Army fell quiet and there were some audible groans when Lolos was taken off. But, of course, Gary knew what he was doing and, as Torquay’s momentum grew the Yellow Army found their voice again and got behind the team. After Torquay’s first goal had been scored the travelling fans were the epitome of the 12th man, pushing the players to keep going even though it was the 88th minute.

The equaliser in the 95th minute (a.k.a. Gary time) caused the away end to erupt with a large number of the crowd running to the side of the pitch to hug (and generally worry) nervous looking stewards, use the advertising boards as drums and jump up and down. Torquay’s players opted for celebrating in front of the home fans as this is far more in keeping with our U.S.P. of winding the opposition and their fans up in extra time. Not long after the second goal the final whistle went and the away end erupted once more, celebrating a draw against top of the league which felt far more like a win.

It was a shame that a couple of Chesterfield fans at the end of the game came round to the away end looking for confrontation – shouting at women and an elderly couple is never really a good look. However, this was just one small negative at the end of a really positive and exciting away day at a lovely stadium.

I have a feeling Chesterfield will go up this year, but if we’re still in the same division, I will almost certainly make the journey for another expensive cup of tea next season – after making sure I have enough petrol of course.

COYY – Rowena

OTHER ARTICLES:

THE GULLS WEEK 27th SEPT – 3rd OCT by Danny Burnell

TALKING POINTS – CHESTERFIELD (A) by Matty Orton

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I simply live and breathe Football and have supported Torquay United since 1989. I am a season ticket holder on Bristows and a Trust member. I set up TorquayTalk in 2017 to give true supporters a voice and honest opinions on their club.

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