IT‘S about this time of year many of us start dreaming of distant shores and summer holidays.
In recent years the ‘staycation’ has become popular with many opting to forgo jetting off abroad in favour of a destination closer to home.
They say travel broadens the mind. True – but you don’t necessarily need to travel thousands of miles to find that special somewhere. All of us have been to a place which has struck a chord for one reason or another, the memory of which stays with us for a variety of reasons – as our reporting team discovered when they pondered on a place which meant something to them.
AFTER a swift car journey followed by a brisk walk towards Thackhall Street, the sense of excitement builds as I make my way past fellow supporters to the old and fragile turnstiles.
I hand over a ticket stub and make my way out slowly into the stands, slow because I never want to miss a moment of the pre-match build up.
Before I take my seat (standing position in my teenage years) I look around and take a deep breath. As always the atmosphere is electric as Highfield Road comes to life.
As a young football fan growing up in Coventry I found myself constantly surrounded by Manchester United fans, many of whom had probably never stepped within 50 miles of Old Trafford.
It pains me to say that their influence made me return home one day from football training as a young child and ask my dad for a United shirt.
I can’t recall the anger on his face but he acted swiftly and soon enough I found myself standing outside the gates of Highfield Road.
Little did I know at the time but this was soon to become my home on a Saturday afternoon throughout my childhood and teenage years.
From the outside it didn’t look like much, but when you got inside there was no better place to be.
Although the Sky Blues lost 1-0 against Arsenal on my first visit, I was immediately hooked and so started the process of sitting in the Family Stand, to the North Stand and finally on my feet in the famous West Terrace.
There was no better buzz than walking through the turnstiles shortly as the clock ticked towards 3pm.
To pick out my favourite memory would be too difficult but beating Arsenal 3-2 on Boxing Day is right up there, as was a rare 2-1 win over rivals Aston Villa with my idol Robbie Keane getting on the scoresheet.
I also had the pleasure of being mascot when the Sky Blues hosted Bolton.
When I look back I can recall so many happy memories, even when club dropped out of the top flight.
The final game at Highfield Road was an emotional afternoon. I can remember all of it in great detail. The highlights being able to take home a piece of turf and getting a life back home in an ice cream van!
I’ll never forget the day when on a rare occasion I cycled to sixth form, I decided to take a route past the old Highfield Road ground. I do not know what prompted me go that way but as I went past I saw what would be my last glimpse of the old Family Stand.
I stopped and looked at what had now become a scene of destruction. That was the last I saw of the old stadium.
The turnstiles were gone, the stands were pulled to the ground but weirdly I could still in the back of my head hear that electric atmosphere I was so used to hearing on match days as a child.
A move to the Ricoh Arena followed in 2005 and although it certainly is an impressive venue, there’s no place like Highfield Road, a place I used to call my second home.