Blog number fifteen in the #Doingthe92 challenge is a visit to The Lamex Stadium, home of League 2’s Stevenage. When I bought my ticket to the game a month prior to the game, Stevenage were mid-table and Carlisle were close to being relegated to the conference. But as the season went on, Stevenage had managed to claw their way into the play-offs hoping that a win will secure them a spot and Carlisle had managed to avoid relegation. If Stevenage failed to win, then Luton Town or Plymouth Argyle could potentially claim their play-off spot.
When I arrived at Stevenage, the first thing I saw was that Carlisle fans were already there and came dressed in blue and white stripped onesies and matching hats. I asked my mum what they came dressed as and which she told me that Carlisle fans had come dressed as Andy Pandy characters, a cartoon from the 1960s. This was the first game I had been to where away fans had dressed up but when I asked a few home and away fans at the game if this is a common trend, they said yes.
I am aware that Hartlepool United fans always dress up for their last away game of the season with reports that this season they want to dress up as Bob Marley. In the past, they have dressed up as penguins and characters from The Smurfs and Thunderbirds. I asked one Leicester City fan who I know if they are planning on doing something similar to which he said that for their last away game, they are all going dressed as Esteban Cambiasso.
Bristol City fans are going as Where’s Wally characters or just wearing red hair wigs. Back to Carlisle fans who came as Andy Pandy, zoo creatures or, in one person’s case, a minion. One fan came in a Tottenham Hotspur’s yellow away shirt thinking no one would notice.
When I arrived at the ground, I couldn’t help but notice how small it was. I was told that it only holds a little over 6000. One thing I did find interesting was that they split the home and away fans into two sections. This is indicated by a signpost with “Home” and “Away” written on it. The only downside to this is that the signpost is covered in stickers with “Sh*t on Luton” written all over it as well as stickers that say “Against Modern Football”.
If you happen to arrive early at the ground, there are two things you can do. Have a Burger King at Roaring Meg Retail Mall or have a walk in the park across the road from the stadium. Apart from that, it’s a 20 minute walk into the town centre. Another thing I noticed was that there were no vendors selling programmes outside the ground. If you wanted a programme then you had to visit the club shop.
The game started with the first half of the game being a battle for possession as Stevenage fans started chanting “Going Up” as well as chanting things about Luton Town. The only thing that happened in the first half was that Jason Kennedy, on loan from Bradford City, got yellow carded after 37 minutes.
A few Stevenage fans stood around me looked nervous knowing that a draw wouldn’t be enough to secure a play-off spot. But those nerves turned to cheers as 2 minutes into the second half, Dean Parrett scored the only goal of the game. After that goal, the nerves came back as Carlisle did everything they could to equalize. But they never did. When the game entered the 80th minute mark, every Stevenage fan stood in the East Terrace looked nervous. So nervous that fans didn’t chant anything for ten minutes. Their nerves were gone after a news flash came on the screen saying Luton Town had lost 1-0 to Southend United. This meant that their play-off spot was secured if they won. And they did!
The fans went ballistic restarting the “Going Up” chants as well as “Let’s all go to Wembley”. I didn’t stay to celebrate as I had to leave as soon as the final whistle was blown so I could catch my train home. On the way home, I had a look at the other results in League 2 and noticed that Cheltenham Town and Tranmere Rovers were both relegated as they lost and Hartlepool United had won their game. I found it bizarre that two teams that I have seen while on my travels are now gone from the 92. For those who remember, I saw Tranmere take on AFC Wimbledon in my first 92 visit which ended in a 2-2 draw and Cheltenham Town lost 3-1 to Dagenham & Redbridge.
Overall, I had a lot of fun at Stevenage. For a game I thought was going to be dull and boring turned out to be a game I will remember for all the right reasons. Friendly fans, stewards who would help out anyone with anything and a great atmosphere. Even the Carlisle fans were happy to be there. Either because they know that they will be playing in League 2 for another season or because they were dressed up and having a laugh. I am curious as to what the away fans at my next game will come dressed as when I visit another League Two team in Morecambe when they take on promotion chasing Southend United. I hope you have enjoyed this. If you have any recommendations on where I should visit at the start of next season, then let me know where I should go on Twitter @DanWhite1993. I have one recommendation so far in Sheffield Wednesday. Should I visit newly promoted Barnet? Should I travel to Wales to visit Cardiff City, Swansea City or Newport County? Or should I go up north to visit Newcastle United, Sunderland or Middlesbrough? Let me know on Twitter
Here are the full stats about the game
Team Visited – Stevenage
Taking on – Carlisle United
Venue – Lamex Stadium
Date Visited – April 25th 2015
Overall Attendance – 3632
Score – Stevenage 1-0 Carlisle United
Goal Scorers – Stevenage – Dean Parrett (47)
Yellow Cards – Carlisle United – Jason Kennedy (37), Kyle Dempsey (80)
16th – Morecambe (May 2nd vs. Southend United)
17th – Crystal Palace (May 26th – Julian Speroni’s Testimonial vs. Dundee FC)