Grantham re-located from their original London Road ground to the municipal South Kesteven Sports Stadium when the latter was opened in October 1991 on The Meres, a council playing field in Trent Road to the south of the town. Not surprisingly, many locals refer to the ground as ‘The Meres’ rather than by it’s official title!
The old ground in London Road was leased to the cricket club by the owners, who then sub-let it to the Football Club. They in turn, were assured that the ground would not be developed before an alternative site was found for them.
The present facilities are certainly imposing, particularly when the floodlights are turned on for evening fixtures. Like most people, I’m not a fan of football grounds cohabiting with athletics stadiums, but thankfully in this case, the presence of a running track around the pitch doesn’t pose too much of a problem due to the thoughtfully constructed viewing accomodation on opposite sides of the pitch.
Outside there is ample car parking, with the main entrance to the ground on the west side. A lobby leads either to the dressing rooms and hospitality suite; or to the spacious “Strikers’ Bar” upstairs. Immediately above the stairs there used to be a mural of the Bash Street Kids masquerading as ball boys in Grantham colours, although the last time I enquired, this appeared to have disappeared!
Doors on either side of the bar lead out to the impressive West Stand. Although seats are available on the lower levels, these are rendered pretty useless by the intervention of the track. By far the best place to view the action is upstairs. Because the seating is fairly steep and the stand is of a canntilever design, a fine unimpeded view can be had from here.
On either side of the stand is uncovered terracing, with crush barriers to lean on, for those who prefer to watch in a standing position. Wierdly, there are also a couple of seats on each level of the terrace ... just in case one gets tired from all that standing!
On the opposite side of the pitch is the East Stand, from which most of the noise during matches is generated. This is steeply terraced, and covered, with more crush barriers. Again, it is noticable that most of the ‘Eaststanders’ prefer to watch from the uppermost vantage points of the stand. Interestingly, the East Stand was originally designed to be uncovered, but thankfully the Club had a significant say in the design and insisted on a roof. For those not inclined to walk around the pitch to the bar, a mobile catering van provides half-time teas, burgers etc.
If there is anything negative to say about the Stadium, it is the absence of any viewing facilities behind the goals. Of course, this is a traditionally favoured position but rather pointless in this case. Both ends are exposed and although there are three steps provided to add an extra few inches, one is really too far away to get involved.
From the A1 leave at the A607 junction; turn left into Swingbridge Road, then left into Trent Road. From the A52 Nottingham, turn right at the first roundabout into Barrowby Gate. Turn right at the end, and immediately left into Trent Road. From all directions, follow the signs for the Sports Complex.