Colchester Community Stadium
Address: United Way,
Capacity: 10,105 (All-Seater)
Getting here by any method other than car is not easy, but once you’ve arrived at this football ground, there really isn’t anything you can fault about its layout.
Currently known for sponsorship reasons as the JobServe Community Stadium, plans for the Colchester Community Stadium date back many years before it was built.
Its current tenants, Colchester United Football Club, previously played at Layer Road elsewhere in Colchester, a ground that had previously homed United predecessor’s Colchester Town Football Club.
Relocation ideas were put on the table as early back as the 1970s, due to the high costs of renovating Layer Road so that it met required safety standards. The events of the Bradford City Stadium Fire and Heysel Stadium Disaster in May 1985 further forced the need for Layer Road to undergo major renovation work on its wooden structure. With Colchester United not having the money required to undergo the work though, the club were forced to close sections of the ground and reduce its overall capacity.
In the late 1980s, new club chairman Jonathan Crisp considered selling Layer Road and making Colchester United groundshare with Ipswich Town’s Portman Road whilst a new stadium was built at Turner Rise, but those plans were scrapped with help from a group of former Colchester United directors. The club’s decline out of the Football League around this period didn’t help matters either.
In the late 1990s, a site at Cuckoo Farm was chosen to house a brand new stadium, with plans for a 30-acre complex including parking, hotels and leisure facilities submitted in April 1999. Those plans came simultaneously with the plans for a new major junction on the A12.
In January 2005, then-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott approved a major regeneration project for the north of Colchester which included the construction of a new stadium.
Work on the stadium began in July 2007 and was completed little more than a year, with Colchester United’s first game at the new stadium being a friendly against Spanish side Athletic Club on 4th August 2008.
Colchester United have played at the Colchester Community Stadium ever since.
Location and Getting There
The Colchester Community Stadium is based on the very northern outskirts of Colchester, around three miles north of Colchester Town Centre. Junction 28 of the A12 aids with accessibility for those coming via car, being located a very short distance away from the stadium. Colchester’s General Hospital is located a little under one mile to the south, whilst the smaller Cygnet Hospital is less than 0.2 miles away to the west.
The simplest way to get to the Colchester Community Stadium is to come by car.
There are around 700 parking spaces around the ground’s vicinity, the majority of which can be found on its western side, though these can be fairly expensive to park at.
It will not be possible to find free parking within very close proximity of the stadium as there is a parking exclusion zone in place on matchdays that carries a hefty fine. Your best bet would be to head south of the stadium and more into Colchester to find free, legal parking and then walk to the stadium from there.
Because of the ground’s location on the outskirts of Colchester, there is no railway station within close distance of it.
The general advice for those coming by rail to is to use Colchester Station, served by Greateranglia rail. (Be sure not to confuse Colchester Station with Colchester Town Station which is based more towards the town centre and even further away from the stadium).
Walking from Colchester Station to the Colchester Community can take between 40 and 45 minutes, so the suggestion is head to the bus stops slightly north of the train station and take one of the routes from there. The 80 and 80A services stop next to Whitmore Drive off Boxted Road and the walk from here is a little under 10 minutes.
It's safe to say that the Colchester Community Stadium is much better located for those coming by car than for those who aren’t.
Outside the Stadium
Most people will approach the Colchester Community Stadium from its Western Side, bringing them first to the West Stand which is the largest of the four.
The exterior here has a nice, modern design that consists of a brickwork base with large silver panels in place higher up and a cantilever roof at the very top. The West Stand protrudes a long way outwards and part of the exterior here includes a large glass façade with the Main Reception Entrance based next to it. The Hot Shots Café and Legends Suite Entrances are located to the left of the Reception Entrance, with Colchester United’s Main Ticket Office and Club Shop located to the right of the glass façade.
Turnstiles into the West Stand can be found beyond either end of the exterior and attached to the stadium’s southwest and northwest corners.
Most of the stadium’s car parking spaces stretch out beyond the West Stand’s exterior.
Continuing round in a clockwise direction brings you to the North Stand.
It shares an exterior design similar to the adjacent West Stand, using a brickwork base and a cantilever roof, but the upper parts of the exterior are made mostly of corrugated iron rather than large silver panels.
There are two sets of turnstiles in place on the North Stand’s outer wall, one based either side of the centre.
You can get round to and walk alongside the North Stand’s exterior via a concrete path that vehicles are not permitted to drive along, and out beyond the stand on the other side of a grass hill is the A12. The hill is fenced off however to prevent people from going over it.
The East Stand is almost the same as the adjacent North Stand, the main difference being that it is longer as this stand runs along the length of the pitch rather than its width.
The exterior consists of a brickwork with corrugated iron higher up and a cantilever roof on top.
The East Stand has two sets of turnstiles and these can be found either side of the stand’s centre.
The South Stand shares the same exterior design and layout as the North Stand opposite.
Is exterior consists of a brickwork base with corrugated iron higher up and a cantilever roof on top.
There are two sets of turnstiles and they can be found either side of the exterior’s centre.
Out beyond the South Stand is part of the stadium’s car parking spaces, and to the southeast of this stand is David Lloyd Colchester, an indoor and outdoor sport and fitness centre.
Inside the Stadium
The West Stand is single tiered with a row of executive boxes up along the back and the gantry holding the matchday camera is up above here.
Almost all of the seating blocks inside here are coloured blue, the only exception being the central seating block which is for executives and coloured white. The outermost blocks at either end of the West Stand contain a platform for disabled supporters to use.
Colchester United’s changing rooms, dugouts and tunnel can all be found in this stand.
Your view from anywhere inside is perfectly clear as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the cantilever roof above, and large windshields are in place at either end that protect all but the front rows, with small walls in place here to offer protection instead.
The North Stand consists of a single tier of almost entirely blue seating, the only exception being the two rows at the back of the middle block which are coloured white instead.
There is also a disabled viewing platform in place at the back of the seating blocks next to the northeast corner.
Your view from anywhere inside the East Stand is perfectly clear as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the cantilever roof, whilst windshields at either end cover all but the front rows of the stand, which have small walls in place to offer protection instead.
The northeast corner between the North Stand and the East Stand houses a large electronic screen that can be seen by most fans inside the Colchester Community Stadium.
The East Stand is a single tier of blue seating which has the letters WWW.JOBSERVE.COM spelt out in white across the seating blocks.
The two blocks next to the northeast corner also have a disabled viewing platform in place up at the back, leaving the seating blocks here slightly smaller than the others in the stand.
The two blocks next to the southeast corner are the designated Family Enclosure which offers family-friendly prices for supporters who wish to be seated here.
Your view from anywhere inside the East Stand is perfectly clear as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the cantilever roof, with windshields also in place at either end that fully protect all by the front rows of the stand. Small walls are in place here to offer protection from the sides instead.
The South Stand, like the rest of the Colchester Community Stadium, is single tiered.
Four of the stand’s five seating blocks are blue, the exception being the central seating block which is coloured white.
The block nearest to the stadium’s southwest corner is smaller than the rest in the South Stand as there is a disabled viewing platform located behind its back row and above there is the stadium control box.
Your view of the pitch is perfectly clear from anywhere inside the South Stand as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the cantilever roof above, and large windshields are in place at either end that cover all but the front rows. Small walls are in place to offer protection from the sides instead.
The location of away fans at the Colchester Community Stadium depends on the size of the expected away crowd.
Small away followings will be housed in the East Stand, taking up the blocks nearest to the northeast corner and segregated from home fans in the stand by stewards. When attendances are expected to be large, fans are instead housed behind the goal in the North Stand with all the seating blocks made available exclusively to away supporters.
Regardless of whether you are housed in the North Stand or the East Stand at the Colchester Community Stadium, you are treated to a perfectly clear view of the pitch with a good level of protection via windshields on the sides.
Both stands also feature disabled viewing platforms close by.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include*:
-The Supporters Bar at the Colchester Community Stadium itself (Home and Away Supporters)
-The Balkerne Gate Table Table (Ipswich Road, CO4 9WP) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The Bricklayers Arms (27 Bergholt Road, CO4 5AA) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located near to Colchester Station)
-The Dog and Pheasant (24 Nayland Road, CO4 5EG) (Typically Home Supporters Only) (One of the closest pubs to the Colchester Community Stadium itself, though still a fair distance away)
-The Odd One Out (28 Mersea Road, CO2 7ET) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located near to Colchester Town Station)
-The Playhouse (4 St John's Street, CO2 7AA) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located west of Colchester Town Station)
*The location of the Colchester Community Stadium limits the amount of pubs that are near to it. You will likely have to find a drink in more central Colchester before heading to the game.
The aesthetics of the Colchester Community Stadium cannot be complained about. It possesses a simple yet very practical layout that offers clear views from every seat, good protection from the sides via windshields and a plethora of disabled viewing platforms within very close proximity to the rest of the seating blocks.
The only real criticism of this stadium can be around its location.
Its very accessible for those coming by car, albeit free parking within close range isn’t possible. Getting here by any other method however can prove time-consuming with no railway station or bus stop being located right next to the stadium’s vicinity.
These are minor issues however and not something that will ruin your matchday experience at what is a nice, modern-looking, and practical football ground.