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Ian Cartwright's guide to Underhill

Posted on: Thu 26 Jul 2012


Ian Cartwright reports

Well, on the assumption that there are no more fixture alterations, following the adventure of sun, sangria and Sporting Clube de Portugal, the Addicks recommence our domestic pre-season campaign at the slightly more familiar surroundings of Underhill on Thursday (8pm) as we taken on Barnet the night before an equally major sporting event officially commences.

Tickets for the clash against the Bees do not have to be acquired via a ballot but are priced £10 adults, with no booking fee added, with over 60s, full-time students and U19s paying £5. There are no residential criteria, either - tickets are only available via Barnet and you can of course pay on the night.

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Underhill will no doubt be familiar to many Addicks fans following our visits both in friendly fixtures and the FA Cup over the past couple of years. While the cup game saw us confined to the covered terrace in the corner and eventually the open one behind the goal once common sense had prevailed, I would envisage that home and away fans will be able to mingle openly - indeed, I would guess, in an equally ironic parallel to the Olympic football tournament, some parts of the ground may be closed, but you should be free to roam wherever is available and take your pick.

Definitely open will be the traditional main stand, which spans the middle third of the pitch along the halfway line. You basically climb one of a number of small staircases and ascend according to where you wish to sit - there are a couple of poles but the view is not too bad.

Charlton host Barnet on Tuesday

To its right, the stand has what, to all intents and purposes, appears to be its little brother in the form of the newer family stand, which is much shallower but offers less of a decent view in my opinion because there are more poles - there is also a terrace immediately to the left of the stand which gives a better view the closer that you are to the corner flag.

I would imagine that the terrace behind the goal should be open from kick-off time instead of halfway through the first half, but whether the away seating beside it has made it back from Royal Lytham remains to be seen.

Underhill has undergone significant redevelopment, certainly since the Bees first entered the Football League in 1991, and thus far the piece de resistance is the south stand behind the goal, a tidy, if slightly steep, stand that offers an unimpeded view, definitely the best leg-room and easy access to the club house, more of which later.

The facilities are OK, the toilets dotted around the ground being predominantly of the portable variety, while a traditional tea hut remains - you can get standard football fare at other outlets around the ground, although I am again unsure exactly how many will be open.

As for a pint, the Old Red Lion outside the ground just of the main A1000 road is as good as you will get - an excellent choice of real ales, very homely and friendly. If you head back towards New Barnet, the Queens Arms is OK and has proved a useful pit stop in the past if walking back towards New Barnet station. Indeed, there are a couple from which to choose around the station.

Going in the opposite direction from the ground up Barnet Hill into the village, there are also a few options, although no doubt a few people will stick to Central London given its proximity.

Pawel Abbott and ex-Addick Grant Basey

Now, don't shoot the messenger! There is a really nice clubhouse at the ground, which does a good range of beer and food, has satellite TV and is pretty spacious. At our last friendly, they did admit away fans at half time (as it's the only place within the confines of the ground where alcohol is available), but I cannot speak for the stewarding policy on Thursday. Hopefully, common sense will prevail.

Similarly, behind the south stand, located at the cricket ground, is the Pavilion Bar, which is slightly smaller than the clubhouse but is again a nice modern facility, although hopefully they will have installed a draught Guinness pump by now! It is home only on league matchdays, but hopefully that won't be the case for a friendly.

In terms of getting there, fans have two choices, given it is the rush hour. You can endure the Northern Line in its entirety to the final stop on the line, namely High Barnet, which is about a five-minute walk from the ground, although having done this journey a few times, I have found myself losing the will to live around the Finchley area.

Alternatively, there are regular trains from Kings Cross to New Barnet - it's about a 20-minute journey and then you can take a bus from outside the station to Underhill - anything for High Barnet station is fine, you can't miss the ground.

If you do choose to drive, the postcode is EN5 2DN. There is a car park at High Barnet station, otherwise it's street parking and, as ever, beware the signs.

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