Sunday, 15 March 2009

A Ticket To Ride

A smidgen less than weeks to go to the Semi-Final 1st Leg at Chalfont St Peter, and plans for both legs are well under way. The big topic of conversation since the draw for the Semis is whether entry to either games, or both, will be by ticket only. It seems strange, after feeling conspicuous in gatherings of under 100 in this season's FA Vase, that this subject is even up for discussion. But early last week Glossop made an announcement that their home tie, the 2nd Leg on 4th April, would indeed be an all-ticket affair. All of a sudden we are talking about demand possibly outstripping availability, and for the first time on this run I felt that awful pang of concern; would I get a ticket for the game? Would this season's road to Wembley falter, trip and stumble at the very last hurdle?

The answer to those questions: I really don't know yet.

Glossop North End have imposed a capacity of 1588 for the 2nd Leg, and this FA Vase run has sparked so much interest in North Derbyshire that it is likely that many more than that would have turned up. Glossop had little option but to make it all-ticket; if the 'sold-out' signs are up on the day of the game, then there will be no entry for anybody without a ticket. Not bad for a side whose home gates average around 200, with only 70 paying at the turnstile for a midweek League encounter with Winsford United back in October.

Glossop fans are now eager to know what the ticket sale arrangements will be, and understandably so. As I write, details are not yet known. There is an increasing sense that there will be a big clamor for tickets and some fans could miss out. For fans who live at the opposite end of the country from Glossop, there is a growing fear that come the scramble for tickets they could be the ones at the back of the queue. This is no doubt a not unusual feeling for fans of League clubs where ticket rationing happens a little more frequently; my guess is that Glossop fans may never have encountered this before.

For the game in two weeks at Chalfont, the picture is somewhat clearer. That will not be all ticket - the capacity at Mill Meadow is over 2500, so the Buckinghamshire club has announced that fans will be able to pay on the gate. An entry fee has also been set at £8 (£4 for concessions), which will be the highest we will have seen in this FA Vase; still not bad value! Having said that, there is some confusion between clubs as it was initially reported that Chalfont would be charging £10 on the day. Still not unreasonable for a Semi-Final, but a significant enough hike in cost to cause debate in some quarters.

For me I would be happy to pay £10; I have felt spoilt on this FA Vase run, paying no more than £5 for any match and that price, at some of the earlier games, included a programme and car parking. My travel costs will also be minimal for the 1st Leg game; it will be a mere 24 miles from door to door which will make for an extremely short and leisurely journey. One of the Glossop players, who has really impressed me in the two games I have seen, is Dave Hodges. A source at the club told me that Hodges was delighted with the Chalfont draw; he lives in Westminster, London and he will be grateful for only a short tube journey on the day. He travels north for every Glossop game, impressive dedication at this level of football; if I was wearing one, I'd take my bobble hat off to him.

The Glossop fans will have a longer journey and they are reserving tickets of a different kind for the 1st Leg. Coaches have been booked - an 83 seater plus plans for a second, 50 seater - and the travelling contingent are booking up; £25 secures a ticket to ride. It will be interesting to see how many Glossop fans make the trip; Chalfont have an option on 300 tickets for their trip north in the 2nd Leg; if I was a betting man, I would guess that Glossop fans travelling to the 1st Leg would exceed that number. Chalfont have already announced that they will be producing a bumper, 72 page programme for the 1st Leg, to which I have been asked to write a small piece. They will be printing only 500 copies and expect to sell out.

Much still has to be sorted, and these small clubs are not necessarily geared up for this amount of organisation. Chalfont St Peter and Glossop North End would not have it any other way - only one step away from Wembley - but dedicated teams of hard working volunteers are toiling behind the scenes to ensure that both Semi-Final ties run smoothly. It is going to be a very busy few weeks for both clubs, but well worth all the effort.

All I have to do in the meantime is keep my fingers, and everything else, crossed in the hope that I can get a ticket for the 2nd Leg. But before that, a trip to Chalfont awaits.

1 comment:

Neil said...

Tickets for the away leg went on sale Wednesday night Andy. Capacity has just been set at a touch below 1600 and initial indications are that it will sell out. Shout if you still need some.