By GRAHAM HARDCASTLE
Although Emirates Old Trafford remains under redevelopment, with a new Hilton Hotel to replace the Old Trafford Lodge in 2017, the media facilities are all complete, and we are housed in the AJ Bell Media Centre at the Statham End of the ground. The player dressing rooms are below, which is handy, with print, radio and TV all under one roof on the second and third floors. Access continues to be via Great Stone Road, although you can come in through the main entrance on Talbot Road and weave your way round that way. Parking is behind the practice nets, which have not moved, or if you are early enough you may be able to squeeze in almost immediately behind the Media Centre, although players and officials park there too, so it is by no means guaranteed. Access is pretty easy from all around Old Trafford. As long as you are not coming on a Manchester United match day, you should have very few problems with traffic. I'm often wary of a build up of traffic on the M60 ring road in a morning, but it never seems to materialise as often as I'd expect it to. The only real problems seem to occur on the Mancunian Way back to the M6, M60, M61, etc. at night. That can be a bit of a pain if you catch it around 7pm on a weekday. If it rains and you are even earlier than 7pm, then be prepared for a longer wait. Accommodation wise, you can stay as far out as Altrincham, amble down after a leisurely breakfast to the Metro station and be at Old Trafford station, right outside the ground, in 15 minutes.
DIRECTIONS: (Satnav - M16 0PX) If you are visiting Old Trafford in the car, as aforementioned, your best bet would be to drive around to the entrance next to the B&Q superstore. Go past the front of the ground and take the first left at the lights. In 2010 Lancashire opened a new structure called "The Point" to the left of the main pavilion as you look at it. The bright red building on stilts is used for corporate hospitality during matches and conferences out of season. They have recently introduced a car park ticketing system similar to the one in operation at Edgbaston. Get a ticket on your way in and then see Paul Holliday, communications manager, who will give you a validated one to get out of the ground free of charge at the end of the day.
FACILITIES: Facilities for the media are excellent now. The media centre is spacious with all the mod cons we require. Interviews are done in the dining room just a few steps behind the press box within 15-20 minutes of close. Paul Holliday is Lancashire's communications manager. He can be contacted on 07866 562998, 01617 182325 or email@example.com. Paul is the head of the media team, and they appointed James Price to work alongside him at the start of 2015. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org Lunch, usually sandwiches and chips, wedges if you are lucky, is provided, as is tea, coffee and biscuits throughout the day in the media centre dining room/lounge.
ACCOMMODATION: The Old Trafford Lodge is no more, so for 2016 there is no accommodation on site. The Copthorne Hotel is just around the corner from the other Old Trafford on Salford Quays, as is a Ramada and a couple of budget chain hotels, a Travelodge and an Etap. Premier Inn and Ibis not far from Oxford Road and St. Peter's Square are also worth a try.
LEISURE: Good places immediately around the ground are fairly sparse - there is a Weatherspoon's Pub just next to the football ground with cheap food and the usual array of ales, but it is probably best to head into the city centre, or try Chorlton, the haunt of Tanya and Andy Wilson, just a short drive or long walk (20 minutes) away. If you can't persuade the Wilsons to show you around, try these Chorlton drinking hot spots: The Marble House pub (run by a local organic brewery which has another place The Knott Fringe near Deansgate station), Battery Park, and The Bar. The Beech, a small, but proper pub, near the green. For grub try The Tonic, The Lead Station and The Bean Counter (veggie). For top-class sandwiches try Barbacan. Other Restaurants worth a try include: The Lowry (01618 762121), Rhodes & Co (01618 681900), Great Kathmandu (01614 346413).
LIVERPOOL / SOUTHPORT / BLACKPOOL
Liverpool Cricket Club (Aigburth), Southport & Birkdale CC and Blackpool CC are used by the club as their outgrounds, with all providing usually excellent facilities for the media. Southport is Lancashire's primary outground, with a Championship match there this year. Blackpool has a one-day match, with Liverpool missing out. Southport is the home of Paul Edwards, who I'm sure will be delighted to show you around town. He may even offer you a parking spot if you're lucky!
DIRECTIONS: The ground is located within the estate grounds of Sedburgh School in Sedburgh, Cumberland LA10 5HG Tel 01539 620535. Sedbergh School is under 5 miles from the M6, giving fast motorway access to Scotland, the Midlands and the South. From the North East the recommended route is either the A1 and A66 from Scotch Corner or, if travelling from further south, the A65. The A684 through the Yorkshire Dales is beautiful, but very much slower. Sedbergh is 25 minutes from the Lake District town of Kendal, and just 35 minutes from the city of Lancaster. Oxenholme Lake District station can be reached by direct trains from London Euston within 2 hours 40 minutes and is a key stopping point on the West Coast Main Line.
FACILITIES: The ground has temporary media facilities and a wifi-code can be gained from Sedburgh School representative or Lancashire CCC Media staff. Car parking is available adjacent to the ground for press and media.