“ Vicarage Road Stadium, Watford, Herts. WD1 8ER England. „
Continuing my reviews of Football stadiums as an away fan...
Match: Watford v Coventry (Championship)
Getting There/Parking - Don't often do a getting there view but it backs up what others have said. Getting to Watford is no problem at all. Getting to the ground can be a little more tricky as you have to go through Watford's one way system, which will confuse a lot of people. It's right by the City Centre so it's possible to park in one of the many multi-story car parks... but then you have the queues coming out. We park in a building companies car park for a fiver. It's a 5-10 minute walk from the ground but it's secure and getting away from the ground isn't much of a problem.
Before The Game - No pubs visited on this occasion although there are several available, especially being close to the centre. Mac's bar (may have changed name) around 5 mins from the ground is one we used to frequent regularly. I think they still let away fans in. However, I do believe that one year Cov fans were not allowed in due to previous trouble but I think that's been overturned. A minute or so from the ground there are a few Chippies and our chosen place, the Yellow Cafe. It's only a small cafe and it can get very busy so you will occasionally struggle to find a seat. They do a large variety of hot food at good prices. Toilet facility also available.
Concourse - Possibly the worst in the league. There's a dingy little Ladbrokes as you enter, it's not a booth like other grounds, it's a hut basically. Wasn't open when we went for a midweek game. The concourse is very strange. It's very narrow. I'd say at most 3 people could stand wall to wall by stretching their arms. There's one refreshment counter and toilet facilities aren't great. It can get VERY crowded due to the space. Alcohol not available inside the stadium... well...in the away end at least. Usual food available. Not that great....never is!
In The Stand - Vicarage Road is an old ground and is certainly showing it's age. There is lots of development around the ground as the club have sold a lot of land to developers to help clear debts (or so I was told by a Watford fan). 3 of the stands are of decent size and again, like Deepdale before this season, the main stand is awful. I don't think it's even open to supporters at the moment. Just to the left of the away section there is some terracing and an open section, possibly for overflow? Seems only Mr Policeman ever goes there. The view from the stand is good as there are no supporting pillars. If you're visiting the stadium at night for the first time, don't be alarmed when the lights in the stand go out at kick off. This is normal, seems they are doing their bit to save on electricity! It's a little strange when it happens though. The Vicarage Road end is shared with Watford fans. Atmosphere is usually poor. You can make a lot of noise in the away section and a lot of the time, in my experience, the home fans fail to match it. Their singing section is at the other end of the ground. Leg room is about standard.
Safety - No problems what so ever, not even mouthy chavs. Boring really!
The ground is in serious need of development, even a lick of paint would do. The concourse area is one of the worst I've come across. Seeing as the stadium houses both football and rugby, I feel more should be done.
Watford 2-3 Coventry (Our 'keeper was amazing!)
I visited Vicarage Road back in 2008 to watch Watford take on Doncaster Rovers, and I wasn't that impressed with the stadium.
Despite having comprehensive directions from the AA website, we struggled to find the ground once in Watford, it is in an area where a lot of the streets are one way and therefore one wrong turn meant you ended up going round in circles. The ground isn't well signposted, and you cannot see it from afar as it is in quite a residential area. I guess once you have been more than once the journey gets easier.
When I went to Watford, I was on crutches, which meant that I needed to be parked closed to the ground as I was struggling to walk. I called in advance to try and get a disabled space booked (we also had a blue badge holder in the car) however, as I tend to find with football clubs, I couldn't get through and when I could, I was just transferred to an answerphone and no one ever got back to me. Needless to say, when we got there, there was nowhere to park close to the ground and we ended up parking about a mile away, at a place that cost £5 and was an uphill walk to the ground, not fun! The traffic getting away from the carpark was awful.
Tickets for a Cat B game are around £23 for adults which is about the norm for the Championship and then £13 for concessions, along with £10 for under 16s, however, if you are unfortunate enough to watch a Cat A game, the tickets can be as expensive as £35!
The ground itself
The ground is an old style football ground with 4 separate stands are empty corners. The Vicarage Road stand and Rookery Stand are behind the goals and look pretty similar, they are large single tiered stands. The entrances to the Vicarage Road stand are towards the back of the stand, in the Rookery, there are 2 sets which are in the middle and then towards the front. The away fans share the Vicarage Road stand with the home fans, however there is the usual netting seperating the two sets of supporters.
The Rous Stand looks to be the newest of the 4 and runs down the length of the pitch, it is a 2 tiered stand which also houses exectutive boxes. The stand has a rather unusual roof and I always think that it would look less out of place at a cricket ground than it does at a football ground.
The East Stand is currently closed, due to health and safety fears. It is the oldest stand in the ground, it is part covered and part open to the elements, but still all seated. The stand is dated, and looks a mess, there are plans to rebuild the stand.
The overall capacity is 19,900 all of which are seats.
The food at Vicarage Road is pretty standard, pies, burgers, hot dogs, pizza pods and the average price is about £3.
The facilities at the ground are quite modern, the toilets are clean and have plenty of paper, and hand wash, and the concourses are spacious enough to mingle in pre match and at half time.
Aside from the East Stand, the ground is quite impressive, it has a traditional feel to it and generates quite a good atmosphere despite the corners being quite open. The redevelopment will bring the ground on leaps and bounds.
This review is of Watford football stadium and Saracens rugby club called Vicarage Road from an away fans view. I have been to this ground on numerous occasions and only seen Ipswich win once! lol
Vicarage Road is a 22,000 seater stadium and in my opinion isn't that great. It was only 2 seasons ago this was a premiership football ground, and the facilities are just not good enough for a top stadium. Watford these days are a very average championship team and that is all this football stadium reflects.
The ground is situated right in a busy area. Their is a pathetic car park in close proximity to the stadium, which literally holds about 10 cars! I used this carpark two years ago and left the ground a couple of minutes early as Ipswich where loosing, Got back to the car and we had been trapped in by people cramming cars into this small space and we had to wait 20 minutes for people to move before we could.
There is another carpark, which is a lot bigger. It is a industrial estate being rented out as a car park for £5. The only trouble with this one is that it is about a 10 - 15 minute walk to the ground, But it is worth it as it keeps your car in a secure area and once out of the car park its quick to get on the main road out.
The appearance of the football stadium from outside is pretty much the same as any other ground just smaller. The appearance inside is different though. As Watford play in Yellow for their home shirt and red for their away shirt. The stadium is very bright with yellow and red seats.
They have 3 nice stands. One double tiered stand on one side of the pitch named the Rous Stand. This stand includes the executive boxes, 3 of which owned by the big Watford fan, Elton John. Then the 2 stand behind the goals, named the Rookery stand and the stand where the away fans go the Vicarage Road stand. Then comes the stand which is an embarrassment to this stadium and to the league in general. Its called The East Stand. It doesn't even have all seats on it and has one very old roof which only covered the middle section. This stand has now been forced to close this season due to safety concerns. This now makes the ground look very poor as it has one stand with no one in it which now takes the capacity of the ground down to about 18,000.
When I was this stadium this season I noticed the disabled section. It is like a bus stop looking thing right next to the away supporters. It wasn't joined to any stand and was stuck out on its own by the score board in between but behind two stands. It was very bas location as the poor people in the stadium where getting some abuse from the away fans and I can't imagine it was a very good view from their too as it was right in the corner.
The away facilities are poor too. Behind the stand there is a very small, dark area with two sets of toilets in. These toilets are very old, dirty and generally run down. There is one big food and drink stand which is average priced to the rest of the grounds around.
The view from the away end is very good. The away fans are put behind the goal to one side. Although when I went there for a FA cup game we got allocated the whole of the stand, so we get the same view as the home fans down the other end.
I think if they sort out the East Stand to the same style as the 2 tiered stand opposite it this ground will make a nice looking football stadium. But un fortunately at the moment it looks a bit of a pigs ear.
The price for a ticket to this stadium is usually £20. This season though for Ipswich as the game was live on sky the ticket was £10 to tempt people to the game.
The address is - Vicarage Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD18 0ER
UPDATE 08/01/02 I made it back to Vicarage Road over the Christmas holidays to see Arsenal play Watford in the FA Cup 3rd Round, and the matchday programme (which is good value for your 2 quid) contained artists' impressions of how the new East Stand will look. It will be a cantilevered stand, running the full length of the pitch, with the roof raised in the centre, almost in the style of the gables and pediments that used to be so common on stands designed by Archibald Leitch. All very impressive, and hopefully these plans will come to fruition in the next year - I was glad to hear the the Watford board have abandoned plans to move to an out-of-town stadium and the new stand will finish off what is already an impressive stadium. My only gripe was that the price of tickets has now risen to 20 pounds! --- The Vicarage Road stadium has undergone huge changes over the last 10 years, the vast majority of which have made it a far more enjoyable footballing venue. My first visit to the ground was in the early 90s, to see the last ever game in front of the old Vicarage Road End terrace before it was demolished to make way for the new stand that now looms over the pub where many Hornets enjoy a pre-match pint. The game itself was a forgettable affair as Oxford United spoiled the end of season party atmosphere with a goal from Chris Allen, and we were soon ushered off the crumbling terrace by the stewards. At the time, the ground was a typical relic of the 80s, developed piecemeal over the preceding 20 years but still largely out of date. The towering Rous Stand (which runs down the side of the pitch opposite the odd assortment of covered seating that constitutes the Main Stand) seemed curiously out of place with the ramshackle buildings on the other 3 sides of the pitch, was mostly empty on matchdays as Watford floundered around outside the top division and only really served to advertise the slope of the pitch – in the
corner nearest the Vicarage Road end, anyone sitting in front few rows of the lower tier has their view totally blocked by 6 feet of concrete! However, the facilities in the Rous Stand are pretty good and the view from most seats is excellent. I have been lucky enough to see a game from one of the executive boxes, which meant that you could buy a beer during play, but had to stay inside the box if you wanted to drink it. The luxury of the Rous Stand is in stark contrast to the seating areas opposite: The old main stand, which houses the changing rooms and club offices, is flanked on the right by the Junior Hornets area (uncovered terrace with backless seats bolted on) and on the left by a newer box-style stand that squeezes in by the corner flag. Plans are afoot to redevelop this side of the ground, but quite how big the new stand will be is questionable, as the access road that runs behind the Main Stand backs on to the gardens of the houses on a parallel road, thus restricting the available area. This road takes you past the police control centre in the corner to what used to be the Rookery End. This covered terrace (which has now been rebuilt as well and officially renamed as the South Stand, an anodyne piece of branding that paid scant regard to the history of club and ground) was where the home fans were moved while their old terrace was being transformed into the new North Stand, and certainly provided the opportunity to generate plenty of atmosphere, what with its low corrugated iron roof and the close proximity to the away fans! Many people feared for the atmosphere inside the stadium with the removal of terracing, but while it was affected during the rebuilding process, the new stands have been well received and are easily the busiest areas on matchdays – the same fans who made the noise when standing have transferred their support to the new seats and this was quite a noisy place to be during the promotion season 2 years ago.
The new South Stand is probably the better of the two new stands at Vicarage Road, you have quite a bit more leg room than in many modern developments, the inner concourses are wide and the different seating areas are well signposted, and there are plenty of refreshment and betting outlets to choose from. Now this is probably just because it is the older of the two, but there is definitely less leg room in the Vicarage Road Stand! The old Rookery has now been designated as the home end, a move that caused some consternation, as the Vicarage Road End had always been the home of the Watford fans. However, police advice and practical access problems mean that the North Stand is now reserved for visiting supporters, who can now be shepherded away from the ground far more easily. Access to the South Stand is pretty restricted and unless you leave a couple of minutes early there is always a bit of a bottleneck of people trying to get out of the exits. Access to the stadium as a whole is not bad when compared with other clubs in similar town centre locations, although the local council is now clamping down hard and have introduced residents’ parking schemes in surrounding streets. You can find spaces in the overflow car parks behind the hospital, but unless you get back to the car early, or park a little away from the ground, it will take a while to fight your way back onto the main roads and out of Watford. The train is a viable option as Watford Junction station is not far away, and there are many agreeable hostelries where you can break your journey through the pedestrianised shopping centre. My one major gripe with the redeveloped Vicarage Road stadium is simple: Tickets simply cost too much! A few years back, presenting your student ID card got you entry for a fiver, and full-price tickets for a Division 1 game were just ten pounds. However, promotion from Division 2 and then to the Premiership made the club rethink ticketing procedures wit
h the result that a seat in the South Stand for Watford v. Wimbledon this season set me back 18 pounds! Ouch. All in all, however, this stadium has been almost completely rebuilt in recent years, but the scale of work done has been tailored to the size of the club: The old terracing is long gone, replaced by comfortable, well-appointed stands behind each goal that complement the huge Rous Stand, and it is just the old hotchpotch of seats and metalwork that make up the Main Stand that remind you what the ground used to look like. These will soon make way for the final new stand, and while Watford certainly won’t have the biggest ground in the country, they will have a stadium to be proud of.
Vicarage Road, a stadium in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, is the home of the football club Watford F.C. and their tenants, the Saracens rugby union club. A four stand all-seater stadium, its capacity is 19,920.