Wigan Warriors - The JJB |
Central Park was steeped in history. It opened in 1902 and for the first few years the players changed in a nearby pub. The â€˜Cherry and Whitesâ€™ used it for 97 years before it was sold to Tesco. (Did the scoreboard ever work properly?) In 1999 Whelan handed over the keys and the demolition began. The Warriors made their JJB Stadium debut in September 1999.
The JJB, Robin Park, was carefully planned to bring the townâ€™s two sporting clubs together. There is still some discussion as to the consequences if Wigan Athletic ever achieve Premiership status.
It is similar to the Galpharm, open at the corners, having four covered stands. It looks impressive with its own Italian restaurant and has superb facilities for players. It is, however built alongside a large retail park and Supermarket.
If itâ€™s a shopping day it's hell! Saturday matches create chaos on roads leading in but Friday nights can also be very busy as the unwise Asda trolley-pushers mingle with fans.
Like so many new-builds, it has little â€˜heartâ€™ and set in the retail park it can be very difficult to get into or out of without queuing for ages. They have got better at managing the traffic flow but expect the worst and then feel good if itâ€™s OK.
The stadium has plenty of parking but most away fans, against the clubâ€™s advice, use the retail park spaces. I think the stadium parking this season costs Â£2. There are plenty of fast food eating places around and the kiosks inside sell the inevitable pies!
Directions: M62, M61, then come off at J6, the Reebok. Turn left, then right onto B5238, left onto Aspull Roundabout. Expect some delay from here onwards. At traffic lights just after a pub on the right called â€˜The Earl of Balcarresâ€™, turn right then follow signs for Wigan Pier and for Robin Park or the JJB.
Home chant...? A very strange high pitched sound something likeâ€¦â€™Weegan, Weegan can occasionally be heard!
Reply chant...? Rhinos fans are going strong with a variety of â€˜melodiesâ€™ at the moment. â€˜Amarilloâ€™ with variations will, no doubt, fade out soon. Copying the â€˜Weegan, Weegan in an even higher pitch is still popular, as is any reference to â€˜Piesâ€™.
Place to Sit... Usually the North stand, but you can sit anywhere. The scoreboard is at back of E stand and the Big Screen is NE corner.
Place to Park... Be careful â€“ Asda have started clamping matchgoers cars parked on their bit. There are plenty of spaces elsewhere on the retail park but it takes ages to get out, so some fans use quiet streets nearer to Wigan Pier and then walk in. We have usually just been patient or parked in our secret little backwater which will, for obvious reasons, remain secret!
Place to eat and drink...With the JJB Stadium being one of these new fangled jobs parked in the middle of a retail park, you are limited for options as far as food and drink go unless you fancy a walk into town.
King Street in town is 'pub alley', with a variety of bars to choose from. If you don't fancy going that far afield, there is the Orwell on Wigan Pier and the Seven Stars just up the road from there.
Nearer the ground, the venue of choice is the Red Robin. It's a big place and has a reasonably sized beer garden. It's also one of them Brewers Fayre type places, so you have the option of bog standard pub food. There are a few other places on the retail park - again bog standard stuff like Burger King and Frankie and Bennies - should you feel the need.
Inside the ground, they have a decent selection of pies - although they run out during Test matches - and the ale ain't all that bad considering you're in a stadium. They also allow the rugby crowds to take beer onto the stands, which is good of them.
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