‘Addicked’ to groundhopping: Josh Green reviews the Lamex Stadium

Blogger Josh Green continued his footballing adventure by travelling to the home of Stevenage FC for his 5th game of a packed pre-season. The Hertfordshire side faced League One Charlton Athletic as they continued their pre-season preparations with the regular season just two weeks away.

Match day Experience

Stevenage were the 2015 EFL Family club of the year, and certainly live up to their accolade, with tremendous reductions in ticket prices for youngsters and family bundles. The family friendly atmosphere was reflected upon arrival, with helpful stewards directing us to the nearest offsite parking.

Blogger Josh Green gives the thumbs up at the Lamex Stadium

The Lamex may just be one of the easiest football grounds to find in the whole country! As you exit the A1 at junction 7 you just cross a single roundabout before reaching the outskirts of the stadium. By train you have just a 15 minute walk to the ground, with plenty of underpasses to avoid the busy roads passing through the town. The ground is a perfect Saturday away from the big city life for the Londoners among us.

Although the ground will not be the most impressive, nor the most clean-cut you’ll visit this season, it is a ground full of character. The East Stand and South Terrace are a real throwback to the clubs non-league days, while the away end is the perfect size for a travelling League One faithful.

Seats at the Lamex Stadium the home of Stevenage FC

Match Report

In an encounter which favoured the slick passing Charlton side, Stevenage did plenty to upset their League One opponents. Darren Deadman was in charge, the Chatteris man continuing to follow me around in the ground hopping exploits this season.

It was the Addicks that were out of the blocks quickly, crashing a shot against the bar inside five minutes. But it wasn’t all plain sailing for Charlton as winger Mark Marshall was forced off with an ankle ligament injury before the half hour mark.

Ten minutes later Darren Sarll’s men hauled themselves in front, central defender Fraizer Franks firing home after Charlton failed to clear a dangerous free-kick.

A set piece would then be the undoing of Stevenage as Karlan Ahearne-Grant pounced on a loose ball to level proceedings.

Stevenage v Charlton pre-season friendly at the Lamex Stadium

The dangerous Tarique Fosu would lead a counter charge for Karl Robinson’s men as they looked to take the lead before the half time whistle. But an excellent save from Joe Fryer would keep the home side on terms.

Following a stern half-time team talk, ten minutes into the second half Jake Forster Caskey would capitalise on some calamitous defending to give the away side a slim advantage.

With the proverbial three points in the bag, the League One side shut up shop. It wasn’t until the closing stages when once again they tested Fryer, cracking the woodwork for a second time.

Darren Deadman put the whistle to his lips as the record books were stamped with a Charlton win. 2-1 to the Addicks.

Stevenage v Charlton pre-season friendly at the Lamex Stadium

Collectors’ corner

Having not seen the Charlton side since the days of Bob Peeters, there was a complete overhaul of squad members autographs for me to collect. I also looked to fill another page of my book with the Stevenage squad, Nicky Shorey my main target.

Former Aston Villa and Reading man Shorey would tick off six cards from various collections early before I continued to take down the Stevenage lot.

Chris Solly, Jason Pearce and Josh Magennis Nicky Shorey and various Charlton player autographs

Nicky Shorey, Chris Solly, Jason Pearce and Josh Magennis amongst others duly obliged

By 12:45 I was on the lookout for Lee Bowyer, my prime target for the afternoon. The ex-West Ham midfielder had eluded me for five years and my bad run continued as he managed to slip past me pre-match.

With the rain pouring down, I took my place undercover (yes, I couldn’t believe it either) to see how many Charlton players I could tick off before they entered the stadium. Chris Solly, Jason Pearce and Josh Magennis were all more than happy to sign. With the latter ticking off two stickers from my home nations collections.

Rain pours outside the Lamex Stadium Stevanage

A monsoon hits the Lamex!

I would tick off the remaining Charlton Athletic players after the match, the only collector braving the disgusting weather to meet the players. One by one they signed my Grounds book, but still no sign of the elusive Bowyer.

Manager Karl Robinson had come and gone, the players exit had been bolted firmly shut, and I was beginning to lose hope. But then after an hour of twiddling my thumbs, the now first team coach made his exit.

Bowyer, 40, would sign all six of my Match Attax cards with a smile on his face. Not even a sniff of the nastiness he had been known for in his playing career. With the clock striking six it was time make our way home.

As I walked out away from the Lamex, Bowyer roared across the road in his beautiful Aston Martin DBS. I had ridiculed the driver for such awful parking earlier in the day not realising it was the man who I have travelled an hour to see!

But in the end it was yet another successful day of collecting, Shorey and Bowyer to add to their respective collections. Two pages in my grounds book filled, and an excellent new ground visited. What else could you want from a day at the football?

Charlton Athletic team autographs

You can keep up with Josh and his groundhopping exploits by following him on Twitter @JoshGreenMedia, through his blog and his the92.net profile.

If like Josh you fancy blogging about your experiences doing the 92 league grounds drop us a tweet to @the92dotnet.

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