Ground No. 99
Visited - Wednesday 23rd August 2006
Result - Chesterfield 0-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers (AET) Chesterfield win 6-5 on pens
Competition - Carling Cup
Attendance - 4136

When the draw for the First Round of the Carling Cup was made, as always, I was hoping that it would give me the chance to see a new ground with Wolves, and I wasn’t to be disappointed when we were drawn away to Chesterfield, a ground that I’d been considering going to for quite a while.

When the day came, I had planned to spend it in South Yorkshire and perhaps visit a few other grounds, but with poor weather predicted, I decided to leave it late (for me!), and not get up there until the afternoon. As expected, it was pouring down when I caught the train northwards, through Birmingham and onto Derby, where I had to change for the short ride onwards to Chesterfield. Despite this though, when I arrived in the town at about 3:30pm, it had briefly stopped raining, so I made my way up to the ground, hoping to be able to get in and have a look round.

Thankfully, I was able to find an open gate, and with no one around, in I went! The end which I came in at was the Kop, which was a classic looking terraced end, with a low roof giving it quite a moody look, especially with the dark skies behind! To the left of it was the Compton Street Stand, which was quite unusual, in being set a long way back from the pitch. Apparently it had been a terrace at one time, with only the rear covered, but it had obviously been re-profiled when seats were put in, with the first row being just under the roof, a good 15-20 feet away from the pitch. Opposite was where we were to stand later that evening, the Cross Street Terrace, which was a small open terrace, with pretty basic facilities. Finally, completing the picture at Saltergate was the Main Stand, which was the most interesting of the lot. A single tier of seating, it was raised from ground level, with fans having to walk pitchside to climb a number of stairways that stuck out towards the pitch itself. Featuring a mixture of wooden seats and benches, it was covered by another low roof, and helped make Saltergate probably one of the most classic looking grounds left in the country.

Having gone around the inside, I eventually made my way around the exterior of the ground, and was slightly disappointed to see the lack of care shown, with the Main Stand in particular in desperate need of a paint job. As with a lot of grounds of this age, most of it was hidden behind rows of terraced houses, but unlike say at Barnet (where I’d visited a few weeks previously) this only helped add to its character.

Having seen enough, I paid a visit to the clubshop, before going back into town for a few hours, finding a pub later on (The Barley Mow), to have a few drinks in, and try to avoid the rain that had started to fall quite heavily again by now! Because of the rain, I had considered trying to upgrade my ticket to the seats, but as walking to the ground, it seemed to be dying down, so I thought I’d save the couple of pounds and just brave the weather, (something I’d come to regret later on!).

Having got into the ground, and found a place to stand, the game eventually got going, and almost immediately, the heavens opened, with it absolutely pouring down. In the first half, it was a fairly even match, with both sides having chances to take the lead. Despite this though, at half time it was still 0-0.

After the break, it was much the same story, although the conditions (still torrential rain), helped play a part and make the game very scrappy, which meant neither side could really break the other down, and so it eventually went to extra-time, despite Wolves fans in the open terrace wanting either team to score just to end it!

Extra-time came and passed with little incident. By now, the rain was so heavy that I had considered just giving up and leaving, but as I wasn’t going to get any wetter and I’d missed the train that I was going to get, I decided to stay on for the penalties. Chesterfield took the first one, and scored with ease, and it was the same for the next three, before Alex Bailey had his saved by Carl Ikeme, which meant we were able to take the lead with our third kick, which we held until the final penalty. All Karl Henry had to do was score, but looking nervous, his shot was weak, and easily saved by the Chesterfield goalkeeper. That meant it was sudden death, with the first three being scored, before Jody Craddock stepped up for Wolves, and promptly hit the ball out of the ground, meaning the home side were through to the next round.

After Craddock had missed, I left the ground straight away, walking back to the station in not the best of moods. The journey back wasn’t the most pleasant I’ve ever had, being absolutely soaked through, and having to sit in sodden clothes all the way back to Birmingham in a train with no heating. Because of the extra-time and penalties, it meant that I had missed the last train home from New Street, so had to catch a bus all the way back, which was fortunate, as I only happened to be walking down the road towards the taxi rank, to see it turn the corner, so the one positive of the night was that I saved about £20!

Overall, despite not being the best day out with the weather and result, I had found myself really liking the ground (other than a lack of a roof on the away end!). It is one of a few left in the country that hasn’t been turned into a bland, soulless, breezeblock stadium, so it’s a shame (if understandable) that the club look like they will move out within the next few years. With that in mind, it is one that everyone should try to get to before the inevitable happens.

Main Entrance to the Main Stand

The Club Shop

Stairs up the Main Stand Turnstiles

Rear of the Main Stand

Rear of the Main Stand

Side of the Main Stand

Rear of the Cross Street End

Kop Turnstiles

Rear of the Kop

Stairs up to the Kop

The Compton Street Stand

The Cross Street Terrace

The Main Stand

The Kop

The Kop

The Cross Street Terrace

Wooden Bench Seating in the Main Stand

Radio Saltergate!

The Main Stand

The Kop

The Compton Street Stand

Saltergate Panoramic 1

Saltergate Panoramic 2


1 comment:

  1. This was the wettest game I ever saw in all my 47 years of going to Saltergate, and for the poor Wolves fans extra time and penalties meant something like 2 and a half hours in the pouring rain on Cross Street before seeing their side lose.

    Saltergate was a lovable museum piece but on a wet day especially it wasn't a fit place for anyone to spend 90 minutes, never mind 150. As I write (June 2012) only the floodlights survive, with the pitch covered in rubble from the old terraces. Not to worry, though, you only have to own the DVD of "The Damned United" and you can see it again any time.