It’s been a busy month. The team themselves have clocked up a ridiculous amount of miles going from Celtic Park to Helsinki to Philadelphia to Dingwall to Helsingborg to Inverness, and while I’ve only been to the two in Scotland I’m delighted that we’re getting a couple of games back at Celtic Park next.
Having said that, I’ve always enjoyed the days out. One of the reasons I enjoy away games so much is that I get to go places I wouldn’t otherwise go. For one thing, I’ve never been to Dingwall before Celtic’s game up there. I love getting to new grounds I’ve never been to before, so Victoria Park (or the Global Energy Stadium as they’re officially calling it currently) was great. It’s my first “new” ground in years and I have to say I was quite impressed.
It’s not the biggest in Scotland, but it’s big enough for the needs of a small town in the highlands. But where Inverness’s Caledonian Stadium (or the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium currently) is another of the plague of flatpack, soulless wonders that now fill Scotland, Ross County have managed to upgrade Victoria Park without losing too much of what makes it their home.
For one thing, there’s four stands. Inverness has three and bunch of portacabins. The Falkirk stadium is just as bad for this, as is Broadwood. Stadiums without four sides are a nightmare when it comes to bad weather – especially wind. Victoria Park’s stands aren’t the biggest, but they do enough to enclose the action – and keep out the weather. At least I assume they do, it was bright sunshine when we were there!
The entry system is better in Dingwall too. Plenty of turnstiles to get the crowd through the gates and into their seats. Try that at Inverness. There’s four for the one stand that we get behind the goal. Four of the slowest as well. If you’ve heard this week’s podcast you’ll know I missed kick off. I’m positive many others missed the opening goal as well. They weren’t late, they just couldn’t get in the door in time.
Parking is much the same at both. In Dingwall, there’s a car park that’s not quite big enough when we visit. We got there early enough we were parked in a nearby courtyard, but to be honest the town is small enough you could probably park in it and walk. But the best option is surely getting the train. The station in Dingwall is right next to the stadium. So train up to Inverness, another train to Dingwall, job done.
Inverness parking is great if you get there on time, as it’s right next to the stadium. But if you don’t get there in time, you’ll be parking in the industrial estate underneath the Kessock Bridge. It’s five minutes to walk round, so it’s all good. The train station in Inverness is nowhere near the stadium mind you, so if you don’t drive or get a bus then you’ve a bit of a hike.
Prices in the stadium… well, once again it’s a winner for Ross County. A Pie will set you back £2, while a steak pie is £2.20 at either ground, but the hot drinks at £2 in Inverness are only £1.60 in Dingwall. A cold drink is even worse as it’s £2.20 in Inverness and only £1.50 in Dingwall. It’s the same for a Capri Sun – £1.30 in Inverness, just 70p in Dingwall. Best of all, you can get a sausage roll in Dingwall – and whisper it but they were giving them away for nothing as we were leaving. Well they were going to waste otherwise!
Basically, what I’m saying is this. If you have to pick between a ticket for Dingwall and a ticket for Inverness, take the Dingwall option. Overall it’s just a better experience. Even if it wasn’t quite a better result.