Redditch United
The Valley Stadium

Ground No. 91
Visited - Monday 17th April 2006
Result - Redditch United 1-2 Northwich Victoria
Competition - Nationwide Conference North
Attendance - 703

With Easter Bank Holiday providing me with a number of games to go to, after looking through the fixtures, I eventually settled on a ground that I’d been looking to visit for quite a while, The Valley Stadium, home to Redditch United, who were facing league leaders Northwich Victoria.

With the sun shining brightly, unlike recent games, I was able to leave it quite late before leaving the house, with it gone midday by the time I reached Wolverhampton station, for the train south to Birmingham. Just days earlier, I’d travelled down the same route on my way to Alvechurch, so it was a familiar journey, although with the train not going at any great speed, it seemed to drag on for far longer than the half an hour it took from leaving New Street to arriving into Redditch at 1:45pm.

After leaving the station, and having a quick walk around the town centre to find some food, I eventually made the short walk out towards the ground, which was situated just off a main road in, unsurprisingly, a small valley.

With the club having reduced ticket prices to a mere £6, a bigger than usual attendance was expected, so after going in and stopping off in the club shop, the ground already seemed to be filling up, with a sizable number of Northwich fans in attendance.

The main set of turnstiles are located in the corner of the ground, and as you come in, the first stand you notice is the Main Stand, which does look quite an unusual structure. Centred on the halfway line, it stretches for about a third of the pitch, and has a small lower tier of seats, separated by the players tunnel, whilst overhanging this is a balcony with a single row of seats, and windows, presumably for the directors. The far end of the ground is predominantly open, except for a small temporary stand of seats, which felt rather unsafe when I went in to take some pictures! Opposite the Main Stand, is a bank of terracing that again, is centred on the halfway line, and runs for about half the length of the pitch. Covered to the rear, one thing that did seem evident was that with a number of plants growing out of the concrete steps, it did need some weeding done! Finally, completing the picture at The Valley, is the near end, which was most noticeable for the pitch, which curved around creating an oval design, which meant the spectators were quite a distance behind the goal, where a fair sized terrace, running two-thirds the width of the pitch stood. Featuring cover to the rear, the good news was that there were no weeds growing here!

After having taken enough pictures, and chosen to sit in the Main Stand, the game eventually got underway, with the low prices having attracted a crowd nearly twice that of Redditch’s average.

Unfortunately, not helped by a rock hard pitch, the game never really settled down, and the first 20 minutes was some of the most dire football I’ve ever had to witness, with neither side looking capable of getting the ball down and forward to the strikers. This all changed on 24 minutes though, when Redditch got forward, and a ball was lofted into the box before falling to the unmarked Simon Hollis, who was able to tap home, making it 1-0 to the home side. After this, the game fell back into its usual pattern, of a scrappy midfield battle, with the ball in the air more than it was on the floor, until with minutes to spare until half-time, the visitors pulled things level, when a free-kick was floated in from the right, only for the Redditch keeper to save a headed shot, but the ball fell to Steve Payne, who smashed it home from close range. Northwich could have took the lead just minutes later, when from the restart, they got forward, to put a cross in, only for the home goalkeeper to miss a punch, with the ball coming out to a Northwich striker, who saw his shot cleared off the line.

In the second half, the game started much better, and with the Redditch players tiring in the heat, Northwich started to control the game, but it was the home side who had the ball in the net next, only for the goal to be cancelled out due to a foul in the build-up, so Northwich were breathing a sigh of relief, when just minutes later, they made it 2-1. With good work down the right by Chris Williams, a low cross was smashed into the box where it was met by the diving head of Mark Taylor, although unfortunately for him, he was wearing a red shirt, so when the ball went in off him, it was indeed an own-goal! Despite a late resurgence from the home side, the result was never in doubt, and the rest of the game was played out at a rather slow pace, finally finishing 2-1 to the visitors.

With Northwich making up a good third of the crowd, they helped make a decent atmosphere, which was partly returned by the Redditch fans, although, despite it not being what you would call threatening, there was a slight edge, especially just after kick-off, with the visiting fans changing ends, where they had to walk past a number of youths in the corner of the ground near to the temporary stand.

After leaving the ground, it was only a short walk back to the station, where a train soon came, and got me home in good time, going quicker than it had came!

Overall, despite the ground having all the right ingredients for a good venue, somehow it never quite had that ‘it factor’. Three of the stands were covered, yet it still felt very open, and it certainly isn’t a place that I’d like to be on a cold or wet day, so that was somewhat of a let down, and with that in mind, it probably isn’t a place that I’ll be in any particular rush to get back to.

Welcome to the Valley Stadium

The Turnstiles

The Exit Gates

The Club Shop

The Near End

The Main Stand

The Far End

The Far Side Terrace

The Main Stand

The Far Side

The Main Stand

The Far End

The Near End

The Valley Stadium Panoramic


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