SeasideEssexXile previews The Walkers Stadium.
The Walkers Stadium – Leicester City
‘Hello, hello – Blackpool are back, Blackpool are back.’ For anyone who was there on our opening game return to the Championship that song will bring back many happy memories. Under the cosh for most of the game, Keith Southern’s goal whilst a Leicester player lay ‘injured’ proved to be a contentious winner to the home fans. Leicester eventually were relegated and and in our first game there since that win, Saturday will also have two elements of added spice.
Ian Holloway isn’t a name that will conjure up happy memories for most Leicester fans. Picking up the helm of the good ship Mandaric, we should be grateful for his sacking and subsequent sabbatical from the game which has allowed him to recharge his batteries and at the moment we seem to be reaping the rewards.
Now step forward the one player Pool fans love to hate – good old Richie Wellens. It’s now been over four years since the mercurial talent left Bloomers and the venom towards him seems to grow year by year. In his last visit on Charlie Adam’s debut a tangle and subsequent stamp saw the latest tangerine hero see red and no doubt the battle will recommence on Saturday. Gladiators are you ready…
How to get there
Join the M55 then the M6 South. Leave at J15 and take the A500. From the A500 join the A50 and follow this until it eventually joins the M1. Head South. Leave the M1at Junction 21 (M1), where you should exit and follow the signs for the City Centre via the A5460. After 3 miles turn right onto Upperton Road, go over the bridge and take the first right down Western Boulevard and you will see the Walkers Stadium ground on your right-hand side.
For the sat navvers – LE2 7FL.
Parking – there’s a small car park by the Counting House pub if you get there early enough, be aware though getting away from the ground is a nightmare.
For the Virgin lovers amongst us – the ground is walkable from the station should take you around 20-25 minutes. Come out of the station, cross the road in front of the station and proceed to the left. Follow this round to the right and now you are walking with the main Central Ring Road (Waterloo Way) on your left. Keep this to your left as the pavement becomes a separate path and the road sinks down into a dip down to your left. A quick left and right to stay on the pathway as it crosses New Walk and you go down the left hand side of New Walk Museum. The pathway rejoins the main road as pavement again and you see a small recreation ground (Nelson Mandela Park) on your right. Turn right into Lancaster Rd and then cross the park to the crossings over the main road by the public lavatories. Head towards the Victory pub opposite, turn left across the front of the Leicester Royal infirmary. First right into Walnut St and you can see the stadium behind the old Filbert Street ground’
We’ve had a run of playing at the Walkers in all 3 competitions – the League, FA Cup and the League Cup. I’ve been every time and added to watching Leeds play there on the last game of a Championship season (before we got there) I’ve had varying experiences of enjoyment.
The Stadium is impressive. Seven years old and with a capacity of over 32,000 it was built aimed to be full entertaining the likes of the Premiership big boys, and not the likes of Hartlepool and Cheltenham, which it hosted last season. The Walkers is the 19th largest stadium in England and Leicester are looking to be a part of the 2018 World Cup bid.
The concourses are big, albeit the entry and exit to the gents are a maze. We will be sat in the corner close to their annoying slim drummer. For those sat at the back it’s a fair distance from the pitch, but wherever you sit the view is generally very good.
Where to drink
Most of the pubs near to the stadium are home fans only. Your best bet is the Counting House on Freemens Common Road. Situated close to the Retail Park, and near the away end. Another recommended pub is the ‘The Leicester Gateway’, on Gateway Street, near to the hospital. Listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide the Gateway is around a 15 minute walk away from the away entrance. With the away entrance at your back, turn left and go along the back of the stand. When you reach the Leicester City Club Shop, bear right and cross over the road. Follow this road down to the junction with Upperton Road. Turn right at the t-junction and then you need to cross over the road to the opposite side and then continue right to you reach Jarrom Street. Go along Jarrom Street and take the fourth left into Gateway Street. The pub is a short distance along this road on the right.
For those arriving by train then ‘The Hind’ pub across the road from the station serves a selection of real ales. Otherwise alcohol is available inside the stadium.
Plod & Stewards
I can honestly say that with every visit to the Walkers I have seen trouble. This has not been helped by the level of stewarding inside the ground. On the League Cup visit two Pool fans were literally carried out of their seats for the crime of smoking. Heavy handed they certainly are, and with little signs of any tolerance I’ve come away before with the feeling that they have been itching for it.
Fear Factor Rating – 6.
Watch yourself on the way out, there’s usually loads of gobby home fans mingling immediately with away fans, especially if the result hasn’t gone their way.
It’s a welcome return following the international break and the games will be coming up thick and fast over the next three weeks. Leicester have had a decent start, coupled with the presence of messers Holloway and Wellens this should be a tasty game. Here’s hoping that come 5pm on Saturday night it’s a sweet taste we’re walking away with and not one that reminds us of the Cajun squirrel crisp company that have named the stadium.
Onwards + Upwards