|Leeds United v Stoke City|
Sunday, 5th August 2018 Kick-off 16:30
Wednesday, 10th Jan 2018 21:55 by Tim Whelan
There has been an outbreak of common sense down in Suffolk, and for the first time in many years we have a decent ticket allocation for our visit to Ipswich Town. Kick-off is a 3 o’clock on Saturday.
Portman Road is between the railway station and the town centre, and if you arrive by train it will be impossible to miss it, as it will be looming in front of you as you take the main exit from the station.
The most direct route from the north by car will be to take the A1156 exit from the A14 (signposted Ipswich West and North) then turning right after 2.5 miles onto the town's inner ring road. If you get there early enough the best bet for parking will be the large car park in Portman Road itself, which on matchdays is only accessible from the top end (Handford Road.)
From the south you will approach on the A12 and you should take the A1214 on the edge of Ipswich and keep straight on when this road crosses the ring road and becomes Handford Road. There have been reports of away fans cars being damaged around the town, so you shouldn't leave anything in your cars which identifies them as coming from Leeds, including garage stickers. Other options are to use the car parks on the railway station side of the ground. At the railway station itself there is a multi-storey which will cost you £2.70, and nearby on West End street is a large open air car park, which is £4 for four hours.
The main away supporters’ pub is now the Station Hotel near to the ground, which as the name suggests is just opposite the railway station. Last time I was there it got packed out well before kick-off, and the time before we were treated to the sight of all the bar staff wearing ‘I Love Leeds T-Shirts’. I’ve no idea if they really are all Suffolk-based Leeds fans or if they have similar shirts in stock for every other visiting club! Other pubs in the town, such as the Victoria, the Hare & Hounds and the Swan, are very much home pubs and are best avoided by away fans.
You could try the 'Punch and Judy' though they might turn you away if they realise you're a Leeds fan. This pub is in the 'cardinal park' complex in Grafton Street, which is about a 5 minute walk from the ground, and also has a car park and fast food outlets.The best of these is 'Ask Pizza', which Serves very good pasta & pizza. If you're approaching the ground from the railway station you can find the 'cardinal park' complex by turning right at the first set of traffic lights after you've crossed the river.
The best options in the town centre are ‘Lord Nelson’ in Fore Street, and the CAMRA listed ‘Dove Street Inn’ on St Helens Street. There are no takeaways immediately by the stadium, which is mainly surrounded by industrial premises and office blocks, though you will find a couple of burger vans in the car park near our turnstiles. Alcohol is normally available inside Portman Road, at the usual inflated football ground prices.
The club have increased the capacity to 30,300 in the years following the Taylor report, with the re-development of both ends as the former Churchmans and North terraces were replaced with larger stands. The Greene King (South) Stand and the North Stand are similar in appearance and size, with a larger upper tier which overhanging a smaller lower tier, and they dwarf the smaller older stands on each side of the ground.
The normal away allocation is 2,150, but after several years of some Leeds fans being unable to get tickets while large numbers of seats were unsold elsewhere in the ground, they have finally decided to increase this to 3,500. The increased away allocation is for our visit only, and means that some Ipswich season ticket holders will be displaced. I believe we will have the whole of the upper tier of the Cobbold Stand (the one on Portman Road itself) apart from the blocks at each end, will be kept empty for segregation. Despite the increased number of tickets, our allocation has still sold out. They cost either £30 or £35 for adults, dependent on which block they were in, with senior citizens at £22 or £24, under 23s at £15 and under 19s at £8.
In recent years quite a few Leeds fans resorted to getting seats among the home fans, so last year Ipswich restricted sales for the home stands to fans on the their database who have bought a ticket at any time in the last 10 years, not counting games against Leeds. And this time they have warned their fans that any found to have bought tickets for Leeds fans will face sanctions, so if you are going to be watching from one of the home stands, you will need to avoid drawing attention to yourself. And if you haven’t managed to secure a ticket anywhere in the stadium, there is always the option of going to the beamback at Elland Road.
The Cobbold stand is now the oldest part of the ground, and the facilities within this stand are limited, so if you need some refreshments then it's best to get them before you enter the ground. The narrow corridors can get dangerously crowded at half-time, as this part of the ground was the main stand when it opened in 1971, so it was never designed to cope with away fans who would all stop for an extended refreshment break on the way down and so need to depart for the loos en masse to relieve themselves during the interval.
Also the seats within are rather crammed together, and can be a bit uncomfortable even for those with normal length legs. Or at least they would be cramped if we ever sat down! After the game the police will block off the bottom of Portman Road to segregate the two sets of fans while the Leeds fans go back the coaches in the adjacent car park, which will delay anyone wanting to go back to the railway station.
I don't normally bother to repeat the record attendance information that clubs put on their official websites, but in this case I'll make an exception. The record attendance at Portman Road is 38,010 for an FA Cup 6th Round tie on March 8th 1975, against the greatest team of that era, who went on to reach that season's European Cup final. Happy days!
They might have a go at beating that record one day, and the club are hoping to re-develop the Cobbold Stand at some stage to boost the capacity of the ground to 40,000. However this is unlikely to happen unless Ipswich can establish themselves as a Premier League Club, so don’t hold your breath.
Some of this stuff came from www.footballgroundguide.com .
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