This weekend, with Leicester City playing on Sunday due to the television schedule, me and my wife decided to pop on down to Ashby Avenue to see one of the three local sides we have in Lincoln, Lincoln United. They were playing Coalville Town in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier First Division South.
Just as I'm reliably informed most non-league grounds have, Lincoln United's ground is next to a cricket pitch (Heartsholme Cricket Club) and an adjoining pub. Once you've found your parking space outside the cricket pitch you can make your way past the pub and through the turnstiles to the home of the Whites.
There are three stands around the pitch; on either side and at the far end. The 'main stand' is seated whereas the other two have just steps to be sat on. Of course there is standing space all around the pitch also, as long as you are not in the way of the stands themselves.
This is the beauty of non-league grounds: you can be almost on the touchline, slapping the wingers as they run down the wing and hurling abuse (if you feel so obliged) at the linesmen. If you don't fancy standing for the match, the seating areas are completely adequate. You can also move around the pitch as you please, meaning you can swap ends at half time to see your supported team score from both halves.
I didn't get a programme as they didn't look much amazing and I wasn't too bothered to be honest. However, £6 is an acceptable price for a ticket for a football match, to get a bit of fresh air and enjoy a day out. In the end it cost a third of the price of the big-boys of Lincoln, City, who lost the night before so I got my money's worth!
With the 190 in attendance, I didn't expect much of an atmosphere, although there was a good contingent of loud home supporting youths that managed a couple of songs and the Coalville faithful brought a good following who urged their players on throughout. The real atmosphere comes from the proximity to the action and the sense of occasion you only get from non-league football grounds like this.
|My view from the 'main stand'.|
There is as much as you can expect from a team of Lincoln United's stature: a small club shop in a portacabin and a small kitchen served by two locals for food. You can get some good chips, burgers and hot dogs there which smelt amazing (I just had some chips) and aren't priced too badly. My tray of chips was £1.20 and I think a cheeseburger would set you back around £3.
I was happy to pay £6 and enjoy a day of non-league football, especially with the humdinger, end-to-end match that ended with United winning 3-2, Tom Garrick completing his hat-trick in the 90th minute to ge the three points. My wife also enjoyed it, and her half-time home-made potato and leek soup was the cherry on the cake. I think we will be going to cheer on the Whites again in the future.