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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

From The Ground Up

With Chesterfield set to crown their debut season in the b2net Stadium as League Two champions, Nobes looks at how other clubs did after they move grounds.

John Sheridan' Chesterfield are on course to win the League Two title this season

So serene has Chesterfield's unflagging quest for the League Two title been that it's easy to forget the Derbyshire side and focus instead on the more competitive areas of the basement division.

It's a sign of just how imperious John Sheridan's men have been in a campaign that will surely see them crowned as worthy League Two winners and end their four year spell in the basement division.

Even more impressively, it has been done despite leaving their home of years in Saltergate and having to adjust to the new surroundings of the b2net Stadium.

However, as I reported earlier in the campaign, the move seems to have been the catalyst behind Chesterfield's renaissance for a dream debut season.

Not every club has welcomed a new ground in such a positive manner though. Here's my look on how it worked out for some of the others.

Oxford United 2001/2

The Oxen were relegated to League Two in their last season at the Manor Ground and hopes were high that they'd bounce back at the first attempt.

However, life in their new three-sided Kassam Stadium was difficult - losing their first two games in a campaign where they struggled towards the bottom and changed managers.

United ended the season in 21st - winning as many matches at home as they lost.

Leicester City - 2002/3

Having waved goodbye to Filbert Street by crashing out of the top flight, the financially troubled Foxes moved into the Walkers Stadium hoping for a change in fortunes.

And they got it. With a little help from a very generous CVA arrangement, City bounced back to the Premier League at the first time of asking as runners-up to Portsmouth.

Leicester won 16 games and lost just twice on their own patch as it served as the foundation for an impressive promotion under Micky Adams.

Leicester won promotion in their first season at the Walkers Stadium

Hull City - 2003

Hull made the unusual step of switching from their Boothferry Park home to the KC Stadium midway through an underwhelming 2002/3 season.

However, having got to grips with their new surroundings in the second half of their mid-table campaign, the Tigers made amends in 2003/4.

They finished as runners-up to Doncaster to gain promotion to League One with a record of 16 wins and three defeats at their new home.

Coventry City - 2005/6

The Sky Blues signed off from their Highfield Road ground with a 6-2 win and began life in the Ricoh Arena with a 3-0 victory.

However, while their final year at their old ground saw them flirt with the drop, their inaugural campaign at the Ricoh saw them post their best finish to date during ten years in the Championship.

Micky Adams's side won 12 and lost just four of their home matches that season and ended up in 8th.

Swansea City - 2005/6

Ending their final campaign at the Vetch Field by winning promotion to League One, the Swans set about welcoming in their new Liberty Stadium in the same fashion.

Kenny Jackett's men were amongst the front runners all season, albeit a late dip in form saw them having to settle for a place in the play offs.

No third tier side scored more goals at home that year than the Welsh club, who won 11 and lost just three on their own patch. They went on to be defeated on penalties by Barnsley in the play off final.

It was nearly a second successive promotion for the Swans at their new home

Doncaster Rovers - 2007

Like Hull, Rovers decided to opt for the mid-season switch as they changed grounds from the antiquated Belle Vue to the more modern and plush Keepmoat Stadium.

They ended the 2006/7 season in mid table before winning promotion to the second tier for the first time in half a century 12 months later.

Donny won 14 and lost five in their first full campaign at the Keepmoat, eventually succeeding through the play offs with a Wembley win against Leeds.

Milton Keynes Dons - 2007/8

The forerunners of Chesterfield. The Dons finally vacated the National Hockey Stadium and moved into their own home in 2007.

The new stadium:mk was given a rude awakening when Bury rolled into town and beat the Dons in its first match. Indeed, four other sides won there that year.

However, Paul Ince's men did win 11 on their own patch, and their formidable away record helped propel them to a double of the League Two title and Football League Trophy.

Shrewsbury Town 2007/8

Salop had gone out with a bang at their Gay Meadow home, reaching the play off final at Wembley - where they had lost to Bristol Rovers.

They were confident of building upon that when making the move to the New Meadow, and even opened up their new ground with four successive victories.

However, that bright start soon evaporated and they finished the campaign in a hugely disappointing 18th with nine wins and eight defeats in their new home.

Shrewsbury didn't do as well as expected when moving to the New Meadow

Colchester United - 2008/9

Having punched above their weight in the Championship for two seasons at Layer Road, the Essex outfit began life in their new stadium in League One.

However, a poor start to the season saw it take them seven matches to record a victory at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

That sluggish opening saw them end the campaign in mid table, with just seven wins and 12 defeats in their new surroundings.

Cardiff City - 2009/10

A disastrous end to the previous season had seen the Bluebirds depart from Ninian Park with a 3-0 loss and agonisingly missing out on the end of season play offs.

They bounced back in fine style though, winning their first two games at their new stadium 4-0 and 3-0.

It was to remain a fortress for them, with 12 wins and five losses in a season which took them to Wembley and a Championship play off final defeat against Blackpool.

Morecambe - 2010/11

Like Chesterfield, the Shrimps also began this season in new surroundings. However, they have found life a lot harder than their League Two rivals.

Finishing 4th in their last season at Christie Park and qualifying for the play offs, they had hoped to continue from where they left off at their new Globe Arena.

To date though they've won six and lost eight at the new stadium and are languishing in 15th. A far cry from last season's home form of 14 wins and three defeats.

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