Coventry City
The Ricoh Arena




Ground No. 80
Visited - Monday 2nd January 2006
Result - Coventry City 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Coca-Cola Championship
Attendance - 26,851

A new year, and a new ground. Since Coventry left Highfield Road, I’d been looking forward to going to the Ricoh Arena. Pictures of it looked good, and the reports of away fans who had already been held it in high esteem, so with the edge of a local derby to look forward to as well, the game promised much.
There had rumours of train strikes on the day of the match, but thankfully, other than a slight diversion because of maintenance work, the journey down to Coventry went well, arriving into the city bang on 1pm. The journey to Highfield Road had been a simple one from the train station, but with no direct busses, and it being a bank holiday, the journey to the new ground wasn’t quite so easy. Getting to the city centre was straight forward enough, but it was quite a wait until the next bus up to the ground, although when it eventually came, it didn’t take too long, around about 15-20 minutes with Wolves and Coventry fans mixing freely on the way, which was a good sign after previous trouble at these matches.

Arriving at the stadium, the difference between the Arena and Highfield Road was immense. Where before there was tightly packed streets with dense housing, here was wide open spaces and retail parks, unlike Highfield Road being almost tucked away, here the new ground stood out for miles around, looking taller than most new purpose built stadiums. The one most noticeable thing though, was the Arena itself. I had been looking forward to seeing this, but must admit, I was slightly disappointed to find that it stuck out like a sore thumb, being a completely different design to the rest of the ground, and looking somewhat bland to boot. Unfortunately none of the exterior really impressed me, looking little different to other new grounds such as Southampton, Leicester, Stoke, etc. The giant, illuminated Ricoh signs on each side of the ground didn’t help it’s appearance either, perhaps one wouldn’t have been so bad, but having them all around really didn’t work very well.

After taking a few pictures, and paying a visit to the club shop, we soon went in and up to our seats. From being disappointed at the outside, it was pleasing to see how the inside couldn’t be more different, standing apart from the ‘McStadiums’ in many different ways. Firstly the three identical sides, although they could be in danger of looking very much like Southampton and Leicester with different coloured seats, they are a lot steeper than most stands, and with the roof being so much higher than perhaps anywhere I’ve been to, it does give a different, more unique feel to the ground. The fourth side, the West Stand really helps offset them, with a smaller lower tier, and an overhanging balcony beneath a large wall with executive boxes set in it, this stand really is quite unique, and in itself makes the ground. What could have been a slightly boring stadium, is saved and set apart from the usual with its innovative design. Finally, as mentioned before, the roof has its own positive effect on the ground, giving the impression that the capacity is much larger than 32,000 with its height, and also the transparent panels running halfway around the ground, help give the stadium a very open, and light/airy feel to it.
After having taken enough pictures, we sat down in our seats, which were situated in the visitors section in the South Stand. As the match got started, it was apparent that this game had attracted the stadiums biggest attendance so far, with just under 27,000 present. Wolves had filled their end, brining upwards of 5000, but despite this high attendance, and the ground mostly full, oddly it did seem quite empty, which was a slight detraction.

With the game having started, it didn’t take the home side long to score. Wolves had started fairly brightly, forcing a couple of corners, but with Coventry pressing forward, after an Adebola shot was saved, the rebound came out to Jamie Scowcroft on the edge of the area, who fired home hard and low, with the ball taking several deflections en-route to goal. With this Wolves seemed to get themselves back together, and went at Coventry from the off. Leon Clarke and Kenny Miller both had chances to equalise, but it was Colin Cameron who came closest, with a beautiful lob from outside of the area over Marton Fulop, only for the ball to drop just the wrong side of the post. Despite the pressure from the visitors, Coventry still looked dangerous on the break, and with Wolves always looking vulnerable at the back, it was no surprise when the hosts increased their lead on 35 minutes. After forcing a corner, a deep cross came to the unmarked Marcus Hall who headed straight towards the goalkeeper, only for Jolean Lescott to stick a leg in the way and divert it into his own net. It was very nearly 3-0 before the break, when Gary McSheffrey hit a shot just wide from the edge of the area, but when the referee blew his whistle, Wolves left the field to a familiar story, having done much work, but with little actual rewards or impact in the final third.

The second half was much the same. Wolves did most of the work, and had the majority of the possession, but as usual, creating few real chances. With this, Coventry were happy to sit back and let the game flow, and barely came over the halfway line themselves, but sadly the result was never in doubt as the final whistle went to the tune of half-hearted boos from the away end.
Throughout the game, the atmosphere hadn’t been great from either side. Despite travelling in good numbers, there was never any real attempt of noise from Wolves, which sadly is a common occurrence since Glenn Hoddle has become manager and attempted to bore most fans to sleep. On the plus side, the police and stewards seemed to be a lot better organised, and more friendly than on my two visits to Highfield Road, although they did stop us from leaving the ground after the game, when the coaches had been parked right up against the exits, leaving those travelling independently with a wait to get past them back to the busses.

Getting away from the ground was somewhat of a difficult task, having been kept in, we decided not to catch the designated bus (yes one bus for 5000 fans!), and instead went over to the nearby retail park for some food/drink. This wasn’t quite as easy as it sounded, as with there being one road in and out of the stadium, it took a long time, walking in a large crowd to cover a short distance getting away. Eventually though, after going in and out of the shops, we caught a local bus service back to the city centre, which with being a bank holiday, took an absolute age to come, but we got back eventually, and were soon on a train back home.

Overall it had been a fairly good day out. In a review of Highfield Road that I wrote several years ago, I did suggest that perhaps the club would have been better off refurbishing their current home as opposed to moving to a new ground, and although it is sad to have lost a traditional ground such as Highfield Road, the Ricoh Arena is a nice stadium, and is certainly different to its other modern counterparts, so no doubt I’ll enjoy going back again some time in the future.





Rear of the North Stand


The Club Shop


Rear of the East Stand


The Stadium Control Box


The West Stand


The North Stand


The East Stand


The East Stand


The North Stand


The West Stand


The West Stand


The North Stand


The East Stand




The Ricoh Arena Panoramic 1


The Ricoh Arena Panoramic 2


The Ricoh Arena Panoramic 3
13.03.07 vs Wolverhampton Wanderers









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