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Address: James Whatman Way,
Capacity: 4,200 (792 Seated)
A long desired home that’s slowly progressing into a Football League standard venue.
Opened in July 2012, it has been the home of Maidstone United Football Club ever since.
The Maidstone United name has existed since 1897, when a club was formed and began life playing in the Kent League. The Stones’ final seasons came as a Football League side, playing in the Fourth Division (modern day League Two) between 1989 and 1992 when bankruptcy forced the club out of the league and be liquidated.
Within a matter of days a youth club within the town called Maidstone Invicta was ‘taken over’ and converted into an adult side, beginning life at the bottom of the football pyramid due to the lack of a suitable ground. Invicta began life in the Fourth Division of the Kent County League in 1993-94 and took the Maidstone United name which they currently possess in 1995.
The lack of a permanent home was an issue at Maidstone United for many years. The club initially started out at London Road, on a pitch behind a Mormon meeting house which had been used by the original Maidstone United’s reserve team. After gaining promotion to the Kent League (modern day Southern Counties East Football League) in 2001, a higher quality ground was required. Maidstone had a site on James Whatman Way earmarked as the location for a football ground of their own, but that was yet to be built. The Stones would therefore spend the next eight years groundsharing with Sittingbourne Football Club, first at their Central Park stadium before relocating with them to Bourne Park in 2002. 2009 to 2011 was spent groundsharing and then being the sole tenants of Ashford Town’s ‘Homelands’ but a return to Bourne Park soon came about after a dip in attendances.
By this point, construction on the site at James Whatman Way had begun . It had not been without issue though; Maidstone had acquired the lease for the site in 2006, but major financial issues at the club meant that by the start of the 2010s only minor construction work had actually taken place. A club takeover in October 2010 renewed hope for the construction of the Gallagher Stadium, and work finally got underway in the Autumn of 2011 after funds were raised.
Maidstone United’s home was finally complete on the 13th July 2012, opening the following day with a friendly against Brighton and Hove Albion that the visitors won 5-0.
Location and Getting There
Originally known as James Whatman Way, relating to the road that the ground is based on, the Gallagher Stadium name comes from the Gallagher Group who were the main contractors in its construction.
The Gallagher Stadium is situated on a former Royal Engineers drilling site off Fairmeadow (A229), less than one mile north of Maidstone’s Town Centre. The River Medway flows past the ground’s western side, with the Maidstone Invicta Rowing Club a short distance away to the south. Whatman Park is to the northwest on the other side of the Medway.
Whilst it is possible to reach the Gallagher Stadium by car, parking within close range of it can be tricky.
The ground’s main car park is directly to the south, but on matchdays is only available for players and permit holders so should be avoided. Maidstone United recommend making use of pay and display car parks located in the surrounding area. Invicta House Car Park (Staceys Street, ME14 2UY) is a five minute walk away to the east of the football ground. Sandling Road (98 Sandling Road, ME14 1RJ) is also very close by to Invicta House. There is also the option to use the car parks at Maidstone East Train Station (ME14 1RE and ME14 1QN) or the car park by the Fremlin Walk Shopping Centre (68 Earl Street, ME14 1PS). Fremlin Walk is around 10 minutes south of the Gallagher Stadium on foot.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Maidstone United notes that the Sandling Road car park closes daily at 20:00 so should not be used during midweek matchdays.
On the other side of the River Medway is the Lockmeadow Car Park (Medway Footpath, ME16 8LW) for those who have more time and fancy a chance to walk along the river and up to the football ground.
Alternatively, you can search for free street parking elsewhere in the town.
Coming to the Gallagher Stadium by train is much simpler.
Maidstone has two railway stations, Maidstone East and Maidstone Barracks, both served by southeastern trains.
Maidstone East is on the same side of the Medway as the Gallagher Stadium and it is a simple five minute walk north from there along Station Road, north up Week Street, then left on Staceys Street and across the A229 roundabout.
Maidstone Barracks is on the other side of the Medway, but the walk from here is not much longer. Exiting the station onto Buckland Hill, take the footpath which runs alongside the railway and over the river, then following the aforementioned route from Maidstone East Station. You can alternatively head north from Maidstone Barracks and up towards Whatman Park before crossing the footbridge over the Medway and following the path alongside the stadium which leads to the turnstiles.
Outside the Ground
With trees along two sides and the River Medway passing by to the west, access into the Gallagher Stadium comes from along its eastern and southern sides.
The ground’s eastern side is where the Main Stand can be found.
Running alongside James Whatman Way, its exterior consists simple of a green corrugated iron fence with a small grass bank in front. The only thing of real note along this fence is a sign for the Gallagher Stadium and two sets of yellow signs which instruct home fans to head south down James Whatman Way and away fans to head north. Head north up the road and you will come to a couple of staircases which lead to the North End Entrance, used by away supporters on a matchday.
Heading south down James Whatman Way will eventually bring you to the Main Entrance for the Club Car Park. Heading through this car park brings you up to the South Stand, also known through sponsorship as the Loucas End.
Similar to the Main Stand, the exterior here consists mostly of a green corrugated iron fence. You can however find two sets of turnstile blocks along the fence. Turnstiles 3-6 are by the ground’s southeast corner (Turnstiles 3-4 are marked as Cash Only turnstiles) whilst Turnstiles 1-2 are by the ground’s southwest corner. 1-2 are typically used for home supporters based on the northern side of the Gallagher Stadium.
Head right past Turnstile 6 and you will come to a large silver building. This is the Spitfire Lounge, Maidstone United’s clubhouse which has a door outside that gives access to the Main Office and Reception.
There is nothing of note along the exterior of the Gallagher Stadium’s western side. There is however a footpath a little out in front of that can be used as a way of crossing the River Medway and heading over to Whatman Park. In order to access this footpath, you will need to head back out to the South Car Park Entrance and walk along the path that has wire fences either side of it (there is a blue sign next to the path that says Millennium River Park along with a white arrow). Following this footpath should take you along the football ground’s western side and over to the footbridge which crosses the Medway.
There is no way of walking along the outside of the Gallagher Stadium’s North Stand, and there is no need to. Entrance into this side of the ground comes via the North End Entrance off James Whatman Way, and is used by away supporters on a matchday.
Inside the Ground
The Gallagher Stadium’s Main Stand consists of covered stand and is around half the length of the ground’s 3G pitch. The roof is cantilever and notably has solar panels based atop it. The stand consists of black seating with the letters MUFC spelt out in yellow seating across the blocks. There is additional black seating up behind the main seating area which forms part of the stand’s executive boxes. The whole seating area is slightly elevated above the ground and so supporters will need to make use of the white staircases at the front in order to get up to it.
Immediately south of the Main Stand is an additional block of white seating which forms a temporary press/media area if required. Maidstone United’s matchday camera is also based higher up here.
Supporters who don’t have seated tickets currently have the option of standing on the pavement right in front of the Main Stand seating area, making use of the white metal bar which surrounds the pitch to lean on.
Head down to the ground’s southeast corner and you will come to the Spitfire Lounge which holds many facilities alongside being a clubhouse. Classrooms for the Maidstone United academy side, the club boardroom, a physio room, a storage room and a seated area for players’ guests are also located here, and the roof like the Main Stand also has solar panels based atop it.
There are no supporting pillars coming down from the Main Stand’s roof and so you’re view from anywhere inside is perfectly clear.
The stand does not have windshields at either end however, so protection from the sides is very limited.
Those stood on the flat pavement in front of the Main Stand, or indeed anywhere along the Gallagher Stadium’s western side, will not have the same level of overhead protection that those seated will.
The Loucas End contains a small stand full of rows of covered terrace. Black bars divide this terraced stands in sections behind the goal and there is a black metal bar along the very front which supporters can lean on. The covered stand doesn’t run along the full width of the 3G pitch and supporters are able to stand in either of the uncovered southeast or southwest corners, but not directly in front of the Loucas End itself.
There are no supporting pillars coming down from the Loucas End’s roof and so you’re view from inside is clear.
No windshields are in place at either end, however.
The western side of the Gallagher Stadium is easily its least-developed side.
Sometimes used for storing practice goals and other equipment, the only major thing of note on this side are the football ground’s dugouts, located on the other side of the pitch to where the tunnel and changing rooms are.
Supporters are permitted to make stand on the flat pavement on this side of the Gallagher Stadium, but will have no protection at all from overhead.
The Gallagher Stadium’s North Stand once looked similar to the Loucas End opposite, but has since been developed into a large, covered terrace. Made from grey corrugated iron, the North Stand has multiple rows of metal bars running along it for supporters to lean on, as well as ground-level access to the concourse on its underside. The front rows of the stand’s eastern end contain black seating rather than standing terrace.
Supporters based on the northern side of the Gallagher Stadium are also currently permitted to stand in the uncovered northwest corner.
The North Stand’s cantilever roof provides perfectly clear views as there are no supporting pillars in place.
The stand does not have windshields at either end however, so protection from the sides is very limited.
Away fans are situated within the North Stand, making use of the North End Entrance off James Whatman Way in order to access it. This stand is usually split between home and away supporters, with a large black sheet in place to segregate the opposing crowds. The location of this sheet can vary depending on the expected size of the away following.
Away supporters are therefore given the eastern end of the North Stand, which contains many rows of standing terrace and a block of black seating down at the front.
Views from anywhere inside this away section are perfectly clear, but there isn’t a windshield in place to provide protection from the side.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include:
-The Dragoon (40 Sandling Road, ME14 2RF) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located east of the Gallagher Stadium)
-The Flower Pot (96 Sandling Road, ME14 2RJ) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located north of the Gallagher Stadium)
-The Hare & Hounds (45 Lower Boxley Road, ME14 2UY) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located near HMP Maidstone)
-The Royal Albion (19 Havock Lane, ME14 1QE) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located south of Maidstone East Station)
-The Society Rooms (Brenchley House, Week Street, ME14 1RF) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located near Maidstone East Station)
-The Spitfire Lounge at the Gallagher Stadium itself (Home and Away Supporters)
Maidstone United spent a large period of their history waiting for a permanent place to call home, but the wait has been worthwhile. It’s clear looking round that expansion to the Gallagher Stadium has yet to be fully complete. Plans for a stand to be built on its western side have been mentioned in the past, as part of a project to turn the ground into one ready for a Football League future, but those plans have yet to come to fruition.
The Gallagher Stadium remains an active yet unfinished project, and it will be exciting to see what this ground could end up looking like should Maidstone United find themselves further up the pyramid in the future.
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