Date:Wednesday January 9 2008
As Swansea Prepare to face Havant and Waterlooville in the 3rd round FA Cup replay, Vital Swansea gives you the low-down on the Blue Square South's Westleigh Park.
Directions to the Ground
Approaching from the north (A3/A3M)
Follow the A3 south until it becomes the A3M.
Just after it does take the B2149 turning, signposted to Emsworth. At the top of the sliproad turn left along Dell Piece East, follow the road to a small roundabout and turn right.
Continue along this road into Rowlands Castle and you'll be confronted by a small double roundabout with a Harvester restaurant on the left. Go straight over the first and right at the second, taking the road running down the right hand side of the Shell petrol station. Follow this road round until it becomes a dual carriageway. At the first set of traffic lights turn left into Bartons Road. The ground will be on your right.
At the top of the hill immediately after a pedestrian crossing, turn right into Martin Road. The entrance to the ground is several hundred yards along the road on your right.
Approaching from the east/west A27)
Turn off the A27 into Havant at the Hayling Island roundabout (A3023). If coming from the west this is the first exit after the A3M split.
Follow the road through the town centre crossing three sets of traffic lights until you go over the railway and come to a roundabout.
Go straight on, through another four sets of lights. At the fifth, (after a petrol station on your right and the Heron pub on your left), turn right into Bartons Road.
he ground will be on your right. At the top of the hill immediately after a pedestrian crossing, turn right into Martin Road. The entrance to the ground is several hundred yards along the road on your right.
By Train (Havant station)
Leave the station by the north exit (that being the side that doesn't have the main ticket office).
Walk north up Leigh Road, directly ahead of you on leaving the station. After half a mile the road eventually comes to a dead end by a junction onto a dual carriageway.
Cross the road and walk along the right hand side of the dual carriageway (this is pavemented, the route runs along a housing estate).
Continue up to the next set of traffic lights, just before a petrol station and opposite the Heron pub, and looking right you should see a dead end road and the ground's floodlights. Turn into the road and the ground entrance is a hundred yards on the left
The ground has a moderately sized car park manned by stewards on match days. The club also uses the car park of the office buildings to the left of the ground, the entrance to which is through gates just to the left of the club. This provides a useful overspill large enough to accommodate any volume of travelling fans, including coaches.
Admission prices for The FA Cup have been set at £15 for adults and £10 concessions.
In recent years Westleigh Park`s cosy Wessex League origins have remained prevalent in the guise of a 290 seat wooden stand, with covered terracing that weathered well through the 1990s. With the rise of the club through the Southern League to Conference South status though, and with Conference National football firmly on the minds of the board and players, a £500,000 expansion programme was put into operation in May 2001 to ensure obstacle free passage to the highest tier of the non league.
Through that summer the old terracing at the northern end of the pitch was taken down and replaced by a new and much larger construction that runs the entire width of the ground. More significantly, the old timber stand was completely removed and replaced by a modern cantilevered 560 seat grandstand, upping the ground's seated capacity by a factor of two. It also vastly improved disabled access.
Work continued through the 2001/02 season. With the team remaining in sight of the top of the league, the southern terrace was taken down during November 2001 and by Christmas was replaced by a mirror image of the new terrace at the opposite end. The finishing touches to what is now a Conference National graded ground were put into place as the title race heated up. The floodlight heads were replaced to increase the light level in the ground in November 2001, a new toilet block was opened, extra turnstiles added, and toward the end of the season the dugouts were extended and plastic tip up seats added.
Although the championship bid failed that season the ground improvements have continued since. At the end of the 2002/03 season the old South Hants Glass stand opposite the main stand was cleared and redressed with a new concrete floor built ready for covered terracing to be added at a later date. Work that summer included repainting most surfaces in the ground and the addition of a second food cabin on the far side of the ground.
The pitch has also been subject to serious financial investment in recent seasons. Once reviled as one of the worst pitches in the Southern League, the Westleigh Park surface has been removed and replaced two seasons in succession. In 2003 Portsmouth FC replaced the drainage system beneath the turf completely so their reserve side could use the ground. The result proved effective and only one Hawks first team game has been postponed due to rain since. During 2005 further work went into problem areas of the pitch, and during summer 2006 the referee's changing area was expanded to ensure Westleigh Park remains a Conference National graded ground.
the ground also houses a sizeable clubhouse, incorporating two separate bars. The entrance is outside the main turnstiles, and it welcomes visiting fans. It is open daily, lunchtimes and evenings, and serves hot food from a menu available in the bars. With the arrival of a large sponsorship deal from Carlsberg in June 2006, the Clubhouse was gutted and totally refurbished. It now incorporates four plasma screen televisions and is available for hire for private functions. There are two tea bars in the ground open during matches, serving hot dogs, burgers, chips and other assorted popular fan fodder.
Pubs and Food
While the clubhouse is the first port of call for many, Westleigh Park is situated some way from Havant town centre and so isn't supported by a large number of pubs - but The Heron is within walking distance over the Petersfield Road by the ground. It serves food under the Giant's Plate chain of eateries. If approaching the ground from the north, visiting fans will also pass a Harvester Restaurant just after entering Rowland's Castle. This is mentioned in the travel directions.
further into town pubs become more numerous, but are really more than a short walk from the ground. The town centre includes the Parchment Makers, found on the left when travelling south toward the A27, which is one of the Wetherspoons chain of public houses offering cheap beer and passable food. Further along that road, turn right just past Burger King for a large Tesco. As well as the BK there is also a MacDonalds visible from the road. Parking in the town centre can be gained from either of two multi-story car parks, one over the central Meridian Centre and another behind MacDonalds.
As a personal recommendation, there is an extremely good fish and chip shop a short five minute walk from the ground along St Alban's Road. Turn right out of the ground car park, left at the junction and follow the road round the bend.
We would like to thank Rich Self and Havant and Waterlooville football club for permission to reproduce the article and images.
All Images and Text are not to be used without express permission of Havant and Waterlooville Football Club any misuse will result in legal action under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Date:Wednesday January 9 2008
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