Wednesday, 24 July 2013

My first trip to The Hive – Barnet v Ipswich

The entrance to The Hive
My first trip to The Hive could not have come at a better time – coinciding with a pre-season friendly against Ipswich.
With the Jubilee line down, it was a mission to get to and find – arriving at Edgware on the Northern Line! Having jumped on a bus, the driver didn’t actually know where we were supposed to get off and we were dumped (with an Ipswich fan) outside a church around a mile away. Not the greatest of starts!
Met by the training pitches on arrival
The Hive observations
Finding The Hive was also difficult as it’s not signposted and it isn’t until you’re between the two houses that you’ll see it. Although when you’re on-site, it’s all very impressive – immediately in view of the training pitches, the stadium is in the background.
Main Stand seats
The kick-off was delayed, apparently due to crowd congestion at the turnstiles – we arrived dead on 3pm and there was practically no one to be seen. That said, we were directed to the wrong turnstiles by someone with “help” on their back (not much help) and I heard a lot of other people also complaining about being told wrong instructions (both Barnet and Ipswich fans). After making our way inside, we bought a drink at the kiosk (£1.50 for a bottle of water, by the way) and the service was just as slow as at Underhill – bear in mind this was only a friendly! That said, the food on offer already looks better!
View of the East Stand
I was impressed with the ground, but having already seen pictures on Twitter I knew what to expect. We sat in the Main Stand (I’d definitely choose to sit here throughout the season) which was very smart. Only three rows from the front, we were very close to the pitch but still had a very good view. I’m not a fan of the East Stand, as it looks very warehouse-esque – I don’t like the grey. However, I think terracing either end of the goal is a good idea, although I’m not sure how good the view would be. There are plenty of options though, dependent on what you’re after.
The pitch itself was also in immaculate condition and if it can be upheld like that throughout the campaign, we’ll definitely have an advantage. I suppose compared to what the Underhill pitch looked like at the end of the season (after the snow and other bad weather), anything would look good! The sprinklers are also a great touch – but expect to get sprayed at half time if you’re pitch-side or sitting towards the front.
South Terrace goal

North Terrace goal
The game observations
Ipswich played a fairly strong team, and despite being three divisions higher, I think we matched them. We played it around well, picking up from the way we played at the back end of last season.
Acheampong (from Welling) looks a decent acquisition and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him. His partnership in the centre of defence with Stephens could be deadly!
A position we seem to lack is up front. I think we need another striker. Crawford needs a partner, because despite the wingers getting forward (as well as Johnson and Yiadom at left and right back, respectively), he can’t play up front on his own. If Hyde does leave us, we will also need a replacement for him – someone who can bag 20 goals a season.
There were two trialists playing: Luisma and Roberto – sign both of them! We saw a lot more of Luisma and he looks like a Dani Lopez type player. Your architypal Spaniard really – full of pace and flair, great first touch. Watching him week in, week out would be mesmerising.
It’s going to be a season to shine for the youngsters. Johnson and Gambin looked very good, despite playing against players with more experience and at a higher level. Johnson in particular seems to get better every time I see him; I think he’ll be vital.
Back in the Main Stand where I belong!
At £10.50 a ticket (bought in the BOGOF offer), it was a good day, despite all the earlier disasters. I don’t recommend walking from Edgware station though. I’m hoping come the beginning of the season, everything’s a bit more organised or else there are going to be a lot of disgruntled fans!

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