NEWCASTLE - Kingston Park
Stands: Much like a football ground with terracing at either end of two stands. There are some well-designed gaps in the stands to maintain Kingston Park’s lot in life as the coldest place on Earth. Whatever the weather when you leave home, you absolutely MUST take a winter coat with you. It is absolutely freezing and usually windy enough to remove slates off of roofs.
Setting: Out-of-town development in the ‘posh’ part of the city. Decent setting with plenty of parking.
Food & Drink: Standard burger and chips is the food on offer but the highlight, if you are not driving, is the two-pint (plastic) glasses of beer which a) eliminate a long queue for the bar and b) make it look like your hands have shrunk to half their normal size. Good bar/disco inside the main stand with excellent atmosphere for late kick-offs.
Getting there: There is an airport next to the ground for a reason...it’s miles away. The visit to Kingston Park is the yearly wake-up call that this once-posh-boy southerners’ game has spread a long way north. Teams from around the country baulk at the idea of the trip there and, even worse, the trip back.
Archetypal local: Fascinating mix of blokes in vests and tee-shirts holding two-pint glasses on the terracing (whatever the weather) – to well-dressed middle-class folk in the stands. A real mix. In a football town, there are always some who have come to see what rugby is all about.
Atmosphere: The small and compact ground make it really good when the home side are doing well. But on bad nights and with ill-fitting stands, Kingston Park can be a sterile place.
Local expectations: Unlike their football club, Newcastle rugby fans know their place among the Premiership is in the bottom half and that avoiding relegation is the focal point most seasons. But they are also aware that a mixture of their geographical position, local climate and fierce team spirit has led to an excellent home record over the years. Few bigger teams have failed to slip up here – and the locals love it when that happens.
Banter: You’ll do well to understand a single word the blokes in vests are talking about. But the rest of the crowd are friendly and good fun when the gallows humour, borne out of years in bottom half finishes, rears its head.
Chants: None to speak of.
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