Counties - Media Guide to the Grounds (2013)
Northamptonshire (Northampton) by Jim Lyon and Alec Swann
Situated close to Abington Park in the centre of Northampton, Wantage Road has improved greatly over the past decade. Press box facilities are better than they have been for many years with the addition of new carpet, chairs and even a tea urn (which didn't work the last time I was there). The ground is basically surrounded by tight streets with terraced housing. Abington Avenue gets very busy at rush hour times as does the Wellingborough Road. The ground is signposted from the M1 Junction 15. Northamptonshire Police have been very keen on speed cameras but due to the cuts they have all been turned off (for now). There is little public transport from the station apart from a taxi. Shouldn't cost more than a few quid to the ground.
There is plenty of parking at the ground unless Sky is in town. The press parking is behind the press box at the Wantage Road end. The view is excellent high up behind the bowler's arm - unless the Sky commentary box is in place when everything is blocked out - but the facilities and food are limited.
Alec Swann is the cricket correspondent of the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph and his number is 07779 716949. The previous correspondent is the ET's sports editor Jim Lyon and he can be contacted on 07931 336125.
Tony Kingston is the scorer and is very helpful. David Smith, the chief executive is helpful and will generally visit the press box at some stage. Otherwise he can be called on 01604 514477. The press officer is Brendan Gilbert who is on 07768 552660.
Wifi has been an issue in recent seasons. It is available and passwords will be given but it is not the most reliable connection.
BYO. A token for £5 to spend in 'Cardiac Cafe' downstairs from the press box is the limit of the hospitality for visiting hacks. Bacon butties are okay early in the day but there is not much in there for the diet conscious.
The Abington is on the Wellingborough Road. Out of the ground at the Wantage Road end...straight on. It is a five-minute walk and sells half decent ale and food. There are plenty of watering holes on the Wellingborough Road heading into town.
The Tavern is the pub on the other side of the ground.
There are bakeries/chippies/restaurants/shops on the Wellingborough Road but they are a steady walk from the ground.
An old favourite is the Park Inn hotel (formerly the Moat House), which is in the centre of town on Silver Street. Number is 01604 739988. Filing from the rooms shouldn't be a problem. Other places are Hilton Hotel 100 Watering Lane, Collingtree, Northampton, 01604 700666. It is handy for the motorway but means you will have to drive into Northampton in heavy traffic. Most of the visiting teams stay here. There is a Holiday Inn on the Bedford Road (A428) out of time. It is about a five-minute drive.
The nightlife in Northampton has improved over the past few years. There are plenty of pubs on the Wellingborough Road, close to the ground. Fiddler Maguires is one that isn't too bad. A good real ale boozer (it is owned by CAMRA) is the Malt Shovel at 121 Bridge Street. It is in the centre of town and has a small garden at the back. The Charles Bradlaugh on Earl Street is a former Shoe factory turned pub. It is very close to the Chronicle & Echo building and handy if you stay at the Park Inn Hotel. The Wooden Walls of Old England 25 High Street, Collingtree has a large beer garden and is quite popular. Also close to the Hilton Hotel. Picturedrome on Kettering Road is very close to the ground. It has a large back room where they hold comedy nights and some half decent bands.
If you like jazz call the Black Bottom Club on The Courtyard, George Row, Tel: 01604 233401. It is a member's club but if you call and say you are from Times, Telegraph etc you'll probably get a ticket. They have some very good acts.
Brabenec's Restaurant (01604 634428 187 Wellingborough Road) is a decent spot. If you want a cheap curry then the Imran Balti Hut on the Wellingborough Road is a decent place. The family Nan breads are massive. There is also the Royal Bengal on Bridge Street . For a more up-market curry the Memsaab on Wellingborough Road (a few hundred yards from the Abington pub) is very good - but the prices are a bit higher. Wok Inn (44 Sheep Street 01604 635794) is a very good Chinese in the centre of town. Papa Cinos on Dychurch Lane does excellent pizza. (01604 239890). Gian Biaz is a good Italian on Wellingborough Road 01604 633900.
There are two multiplex cinemas in Northampton. There is the UGC at Sixfields, which is on Weedon Road, The Vue Cinema at Sol Central, which is a large leisure complex close to the train station.
The Royal and Derngate Theatres are next door to each other on Guildhall Road. Call 01604 626222 and they have some very good plays and acts on.
There are plenty of golf courses. Brampton Heath (Sandy Lane, Brampton 01604 843939) is an excellent pay and play course on the A508 four miles north of Northampton. Collingtree Golf Club is a private club but visitors can play. It has hosted a couple of European tour events. It is very close to the Hilton Hotel (01604 700000). Delapre Golf Club is a public course, which has undergone a major revamp recently and is now quite good. It is on Eagle Drive, Nene Valley Way (01604 764036 / 763957 / 764036). Northamptonshire County Golf Club is a fine course but difficult to play unless you know a member (01604 843025 / 842226).
The Mounts Swimming Baths are in the centre of town and a five-minute stroll from the Moat House.
The nearby Althorp House and the Canal Museum at Stoke Bruene is also worth a visit on rainy days while if you like the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh then 78 Derngate is excellent (www.78derngate.org.uk).
There are plenty more rural locations to drink, eat and stay elsewhere in the county if you don't mind/would prefer being out of town.
Finally, the Factory Shoe Shops are worth a visit (William Powell recommends that if you're in need of a new pair of shoes) – Barkers Shoes in Earls Barton, although a little way out of town is well worth a visit for a pair of shoes for £60.00 or £110.00 for two pairs instead of £350.00 if that takes your fancy. William still remembers taking an Australian Journalist there once who couldn't believe the prices compared with gentlemens shoe shops in Jermyn Street and immediately purchased three pairs to take home to Sydney!! Jim or Alec can give pointers if you need any help