Friday, 20 April 2007

Stadium Review #20 - Kenilworth Road

Ground Information: Kenilworth Road (Luton Town FC) Capacity 10,300

Appearance: A dump. Many people put down Kenilworth Road (or "The Kennel") but they are perfectly right to do so. Having said that this is probably the most interesting stadium in the Championship, there are so many different bits and quirks to it. The most striking being the excellent Oak Road entrances that are between the neighbours' houses and the toilets "in people's living rooms" imagine having a stadium in your back garden. The exterior of the ground is stuck in the 60s/70s and looks like it hasn't been painted since. Internally there are so many bits to it, stands and different heights and levels with bits place here and there like an unthinking child's Duplo set, from the conservatory "executive" boxes on one side facing the nearest you can get to a standing paddock these days with perch seating in the lower tier. Another quirk are the tower floodlights down both sides of the pitch. 7/10

View: As befits old grounds, there are numerous pillars supporting the roof, and they are hefty pillars too, it is not possible to get any unobstructed view, but else apart from the front rows that are a good few feet below pitch level the view is fairly good. 5/10

Getting there: Went by train for this one, a fairly painless manoeuvre leaving from Farringdon station after transferring from Paddington, and the fares from Plymouth are very reasonable too. Finding the ground from the station is a case of follow my leader as it isn't signed at all but is in fact only 10-15 minutes walk away. The easiest way is to leave the station from "Platform 5" and head straight ahead, crossing the Sainsbury's car park. Alternatively you can walk through the shopping centre that is Luton town centre. 5/10

Facilities (toilets, TVs etc): The refreshment bars are at the rear of the stand, so are dry bars but this means you do not miss any action at all. I did not use the toilets as they are down the stairs next to the turnstiles and were fairly small. The stand is converted terracing and badly converted terracing at that, the leg room is pitiful and DVT inducing. 5/10

Food and Drink: Very good pie but a bit more expensive than some grounds. As mentioned the advantage of not missing the match to get refreshments is helpful if a large queue builds. 6/10

Stewarding/Police: There was a bit of trouble with the local hooligan firm after the match that was dealt with swiftly by the local constabulary. As usual a large presence for a London (or rather near London) club. The stewards on the other hand didn't seem to have a clue as to their responsibilities, but joined in with some banter with some drunk supporters near the front. 5/10

Surrounding area (what's there to do outside the ground): Nothing. There's a "high street" at the end of Oak Road or back in the "town centre" you can wander round the shopping mall that contains all of Luton's town centre shopping, there are surprisingly few pubs there too. If coming by train, get a longer connection time in London. 4/10

Home fans (their contribution to the atmosphere etc): The more vocal home supporters gather just to the right of the away end in the upper tier and were very vocal throughout in spite of their relegation fears. In fact they just took the pee out of their own situation. 7/10

Total score: 44/80

Stadium League Table:
Pride Park (Derby): 65
Hillsborough (Sheffield Wednesday): 58
Poltair Park (St Austell): 57 [non league]
Stadium of Light (Sunderland): 55
= Portman Road (Ipswich): 51
= Ricoh Arena (Coventry):51

= Carrow Road (Norwich): 50
= Walkers Stadium (Leicester): 50

Underhill (Barnet): 49
= St Andrews (Birmingham): 48
= Molineux (Wolves): 48
= Loftus Road (QPR): 46
= The Hawthorns (WBA): 46
= Elland Road (45)
= Turf Moor (Burnley): 45

Kenilworth Road (Luton): 44
Deepdale (Preston): 43
Ninian Park (Cardiff): 42
Roots Hall (Southend): 41
London Road (Peterbrough): 36

So Kenilworth Road is the penultimate ground this season with just Hull left, however hopefully there will be a special Wembley review come the FA Cup Vase in May.

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