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Saturday 10th December 2011 ko 3.00pm

League 2



Att 1,914

Entry (centre of main stand) £21

Programme £3

Badge £3

Tea £1.50

Pie, Peas, and Gravy £3

This was one of the now rare occasions when I could be both an Oxford United fan and a groundhopper!

Morecambe on the North Lancashire coast actually takes its name from the 190 mile bay on which it lies, its former name being Poulton-le-Sands. That name is a good reference to the sandflats, where cockle-picking remains a business. Its there that at least 21 Chinese cocklepickers drowned in February 2004, trapped by the fast tide.

On a happier note, in 2010 Morecambe was noted as having the most dog lovers in the UK, but no mention of the town is complete without reference to its most famous son, comedian Eric Morecambe, whose statue is a landmark on the seafront.

The fact that Eric Morecambe famously was a Luton Town fan, hasn’t put off the local football club from playing Morecambe and Wise’s signature tune “Bring me Sunshine” as the teams enter the field. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMY7j5U-LxI&feature=related

The Shrimps moved from Christie Park to the Globe Arena in 2010. The mile long move meant they swapped a small ground with a large main stand, a covered terrace behind one goal, a smaller one opposite, and a narrow open terraced “Pop” side for a  small ground with a large main stand, a covered terrace behind one goal, a smaller one opposite, and a narrow open terraced “Pop” side.

“Hmm” I thought, as I really couldn’t see what had been gained from the move. The away end has the narrowest walkway behind that I’ve seen, and that open terrace really could do with a roof, as the 2,200 seat main stand does dominate. The real gain of course is the hospitality boxes at the back of the main stand and the banqueting hall beneath. That, by the way can be accessed by those who who hold tickets for blocks C1 and C2 in the main stand. Its worth the extra £3 to be warm before and during half time, the free teamsheets, and the opportunity to nose around! The access is via the press area-cum-disabled area to the front of it. You do wonder though what the scope is for expansion, especially as the offices and scoreboard truncate the open terrace.

The view from my seat in C1 was excellent, with plenty of legroom too. The food was tasty and at prices cheaper than at most League grounds. The programme is a decent read despite being a little heavy on the adverts.

Ah, yes the game, I know a nil-nil draw, but it really wasn’t all that bad. Oxford on the back of 5 straight defeats were looking for something, anything to lift the gloom, and the Shrimps were looking to push up one extra place in the table into a play-off position. Oxford continued to lack two key players through injury, centre half Michael Duberry and winger Alfie Potter, but saw returns for Anthony Tonkin, Asa Hall, and Tommy Craddock. The game was always entertaining if rather disjointed, and as the scoreline would suggest the defences, and particularly the goalkeepers Barry Roche and Ryan Clarke were on top.

I suspect the game will be remembered by the 280 or so travelling fans for a 2 minute cameo at the end. The home fans were nonplussed when Adam Chapman’s appearance for 2nd half stoppage time produced a huge ovation. I wonder how many players have had a reception like that after a 15 month period at “Her Majesty’s pleasure?”