Saturday, 20 May 2017

Maidstone United F.C. - Gallagaher Stadium

Maidstone United F.C.
Maidstone United F.C.
Gallagher Stadium
James Whatman Way
ME14 1LQ

Ground Number: 41
Date: Tuesday 21st March 2017
Score: Maidstone United 1-1 Sutton United F.C.
Competition: Vanarama National League
Attendance: 2,929

Maidstone United, one of the most well supported non league clubs and one of the most successful non league clubs in recent years as they get an average attendance of over 2,000 and normally take over 250 away as a minimum and they found themselves playing in the Ryman Division One South in the 2012/13 season but now they find themselves playing in the Vanarama National League which is three promotions in the space of four years which is an incredible achievement.
Image result for maidstone united logo
Last season (2015/16), ourselves (Sutton) and Maidstone found ourselves battling it out in the top 5 in the Vanrama National League South and it was coming to the end of the season and Sutton played away to Maidstone on a cold Tuesday night and won 2-1 and gave the insight that we may actually win the National League South which we did and I wanted to go to Maidstone last season but I wasn't aloud to go which meant I groundhopped to Tooting and Mitcham v Molesey instead that night and I heard many reviews that Maidstone was amazing so that night, I made it my mission to go to Maidstone next season (this season).
When the fixtures came out, we started to go through all of the away games that we could go to and we saw that we had been given Maidstone away on the 21st March and luckily enough my dad had that day and the next day off which meant I was able to finally say that I would definitely be going to Maidstone this season. As the season went on we went to many away games such as York and Southport etc. but the one that I was mainly looking forward to was Maidstone because I had made it my mission to go to Maidstone this season and I just couldn't wait for the night of the game.
As the season went on, the feeling of going to Maidstone in March felt much more exciting and as I went to more away games, I became even more excited for our trip Maidstone. The weeks went by and the week before the game finally arrived. I then started to look into the history of Maidstone United as I dont really know a lot about them.
Maidstone United were formed in 1992 as a result of the original Maidstone United dissolving and then the newly formed Maidstone Invictia were founded in 1992. They joined the 4th divison of the Kent County League and made their way up the leagues over the next few seasons. They then entered the Kent League in the 2001/02 season and after being in the league for a few years, they won promotion to the Ryman Division One South in the 2005/06 season. The club spent one year in the Ryman Division One South as they were promoted to the Ryman Premier and they spent 4 seasons in the Premier Divisionn, They were then relegated back down to the Ryman Division One South in the 2011/12 season. They spent two seasons in the Ryman Division One South and they were promoted back to the Ryman Premier in the 2012/13 season.
In 2012, Maidstone United returned to Maidstone as the newly opened Gallagher Stadium was built and opened. The club spent two seasons back in the Ryman Premier and they were promoted to the National League South in the 2014/15 season. They played their first season in the National League South and managed to clinch promotion to the National League in their first season after beating Ebbsfleet United on penalties in the play-off final and at the time of writing this blog, they currenty play in the National League.
I had college the day before and like any day before a big game, the day went slowly but it finally went and Tuesday finally arrived and I had to wake up at 6:30am for college and I knew that in under 12 hours I would be in Maidstone. I got the bus to college and I only had the two lessons to do and I was out of college by 12:30pm and I was home by 1:15pm. As soon as I got home, I got changed and had a quick wash and by the time I had done that, my dad had arrived.
After my dad arrived, I got all of my flags ready and I made sure I had everything ready and we left my house at 2:03pm and we drove back to my dads as he had to get changed as he had just finished work. My dad got changed and we had a few snacks and I put some face cream on and then we finally left my dad`s house at 3:18pm. We then picked up our friend Tony from his house which is only a 5 minute drive away from my dads and then we set the sat nav for the Gallagher Stadium.
We drove through Sutton and up to Merstham and drove on the motorways to Maidstone and the roads were pretty empty and the weather was really nice as well, it was pretty sunny and it wasnt too hot but by the time we got to Maidstone at 4:37pm, it had become quite cold and me being me, I didnt bring a coat as I was wearing my Sutton top over my jumper. We parked outside the Gallagher Stadium and walked into the town centre and we decided that for tonights dinner we would be having Burger King which is one of my favorite meals to have before a football match.
We walked through the town centre and a couple of Maidstone fans started saying "Maidstone, Maidstone" as they were trying to intimidate us but we Sutton fans never get intimidated by a couple of teenagers chanting. The high street is quite nice in my opinion, it has some nice shops and has a friendly feeling to the place. We got to Burger King at 4:55pm and I got a bacon double cheese XL meal and some of the chicken strips and a cup of coke. By this time I was very hungry and I was getting very excited for the game. The chicken strips were a first timer for me and they were quite expensive but for what they are, they are not really good value for money but I re-filled my cup but with a fruit twist fanta and then left Burger King and we headed for the ground at 5:34pm.
Whilst walking back to the ground, we sang a couple of Sutton songs to get us all into the football mood and we got back to the Gallagher Stadium at 5:50pm and we went to the turnstilles to find some other Sutton fans waiting for the turnstilles to open and we saw the new North Stand and we was all impressed with it and it was the main conversation until the turnstilles opened. Just before the turnstilles opened, we had our bags checked and I had to pay £12 for a concession ticket and that is very expensive because £12 is roughly the price for an adult to get into Sutton but I dont mind paying £12 to watch my team. Once we got in the ground we went in the club shop so I could buy a Maidstone pin badge to add to my collection and a programme. We then put the flags up and then we walked around the ground to take some pictures of the stadium.
The Gallagher Stadium is a beautiful and very modern stadium and is one of the best that I have visited. The ground has a capacity of 4,168 and there are 750 seats. On the approach to it from the town centre, there is little to see as the stadium is built into a hillside. Even from the main Club car park, there is not much to be glimpsed of the interior. Once inside though it is a different matter. On one side is the smart looking Main Stand. This all seated stand has a cantilevered roof, meaning that there are no supporting pillars to contend with. It is also raised above pitch level, meaning that spectators have to climb a small set of stairs to enter it.
This Main Stand was extended in 2015 so that it now has a capacity of 750 seats. Oddly the team dugouts are not located in front of the Main Stand but on the other side of the ground. This side has no facilities for spectators as such, just a small flat standing area, behind the perimeter fence. The team dugouts almost seemed to have been an afterthought as they receded into the standing area. At the North End is a new covered terrace that was opened in March 2017. This terrace is of a fair size and has a capacity of 1,768. The opposite, the Loucas End, is a small covered terrace which is just seven steps high. There is also plenty of surrounding trees and greenery on view. (Description of the Gallagher Stadium is sourced from Football Ground Guide).
After going round the ground to take some pictures I went round to the burger van to buy myself a cup of hot chocolate and my dad a coffee. I myself am a person who likes to drink a nice warm cup of hot chocolate before a football match and I have to say that the hot chocolate at the Gallagher Stadium is really well made and is not too strong. After drinking around half of my hot chocolate, my friend Theo and Ryan and a few others arrived and we had a good chat and Theo was definetly more excited for the game than me. Ryan then put up his flags and then Theo went to get some chips and I decided to get some as well and the portions they do are quite decent and the chips are quite soft and well cooked.
By the time I finished my portion of chips, there was only around 15 minutes until kick off and the Maidstone fans were occupying their new stand and there was also a celebration picture being taken for the completion of the new stand. The Maidstone fans were quite loud as there was a good 40 or so fans chanting and like many clubs, they were singing the same songs that most large clubs sing. The game nearer to starting and the Sutton fans started to stand with us and we decided to get the chants going to warm up our voices for the game and there was quite a few Maidstone fans standing with us as well which was not really comfortable in my opinion as I am not really used to having fans from the other team right next to me but I put this aside and kept the singing going.
The teams came out and there was a massive roar from the large crowd within the stadium and as soon as the teams come out, I felt so proud that I support Sutton United and I felt a surge of energy pass through my body. The game kicked off and I was so excited because I had been waiting for this game for a long time. Both teams had decent chances in the first half but Sutton had the better chances.
The half time whistle blew and both sets of fans gave a massive round of support for their teams. After the teams had gone back into the changing rooms, I went to the burger van with my mate Theo who went and got a bottle of coke and we both chatted about the game. We then walked back to where we stoof in the first half and there were quite a lot of Maidstone fans up our end but we was expecting this as the game is not segregated.
Sutton started the second half looking quite strong and we had a few chances to take the lead early on in the first half and Maidstone had the odd chance but in the 51st minute, Sutton broke out of control from Maidstone and thundered down the left wing and put a great ball into the box and Coyle put the ball into his own net and Sutton took the lead and Adam Coombed nearly got the final touch on the ball but it was an own goal from the Maidstone player.
Sutton then created a few more good chances but then it seemed to look like Maidstone wanted the game more as they were creating a lot of chances and Jamar Loza was putting everything on Sutton but Maidstone seemed to get a bit of luck as Jamar Loza was tripped just outside the box but Maidstone were given a penalty in the 68th minute and Loza put the ball past Will Puddy and the score was back level. Sutton then had a few chances but towards the end of the game, Sutton were defending for their lives as everything Maidstone were doing was dangerous but Sutton managed to hang on and the game finished 1-1.
We then clapped the Sutton players and then we took the flags down and headed back to car and we all fealt quite happy with a point because our away form has not been the best this season and it was a point nearer to safety and a draw is a fair result as Maidstone are in-form at the moment and you cant really moan with a point away from home. We got back to the car and drove home and the roads were quite empty and we had some cookies and crisps left over from our snacks that we bought for the game so we all had some cookies and crisps and we dropped Tony back at his house at 11:03pm and we got back to my dads house at 11:08pm and I checked my notifications on my phone and then went to bed at 11:23pm feeling very tired but quite happy. I would highly recommend going to the Gallagher Stadium because it is one of the best grounds in non league and Maidstone are really well supported.

Stadium: 8/10
Bar: 7/10
Food and Drink: 8/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Friendliness: 7/10
Value For Money: 8/10
Overall Rating: 7.5/10

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