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Bloomfield Road
Blackpool v Bristol City
Saturday March 2nd 2013, 3pm
Championship League
By James Prentice
(Neutral fan - Doing The 92)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

I had up until now visited all of the Lancashire grounds bar Bloomfield Road and Morecambeís Globe Arena (not counting Anfield, even though Liverpool was historically a part of Lancs) so I wanted to get closer to completing the rest of the county and of course the hallowed 92. I had wanted to visit Blackpool many years ago before the ground was redeveloped but alas the opportunity never quite materialised. So when a potential weekend came up I had a decision to make. I eventually plumped for Blackpool ahead of Morecambe (both were at home on the same day) and got a ticket organised. I have enjoyed visiting all of the other Lancashire grounds, given that the country has so many great clubs and history, and hoped that Bloomfield Road would be just as good a day out as others Iíve had in this part of the world.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

I had in the past tentatively looked at either a weekend away in Blackpool or a train journey, but my missus was never to keen on this particular seaside venue and visiting by rail would have meant an overnight stop anyway as it is impossible to get back to Lincoln after a Saturday match. So when my missus and her friend asked if Iíd take them up to Ripon for a day out at a stately home I decided I could nip across and take in a game whilst they were busy. After driving to Ripon I headed across towards Skipton, then into east Lancs before eventually reaching the M55 and getting to Blackpool, with no problems encountered apart from a short hold up on the M6. I parked up about ten minutes from Bloomfield Road and there is plenty of on-street parking nearby Ė just donít park in the direct vicinity of the ground as there are matchday restrictions in force.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

I didnít have a great deal of time to spare before the game, so after parking up I made my way to the ground and went for the swiftest of pints at the Bloomfield Hotel, which whilst not a great pub was busy and had a mix of home and away fans. I had had a romantic idea of combining a pint, a stoll along the promenade and a fish supper before the game but alas I hadnít arrived early enough to do so Ė maybe next time. After getting a programme, I did a lap of the ground and took a picture of the Stan Mortenson statue before entering Bloomfield Road.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

My ticket was for the Ďnewí East Stand, which was erected after the club gain promotion to the Premier League in 2010 and replaced a smaller, uncovered structure. The stand is shared between the home and away fans unless the visiting team brings a big support and itís fair to say that this stand isnít the best Iíve ever been in, with a multitude of pillars in place. At £24 a ticket it felt like other and I had got a very raw deal and if I was a Blackpool regular Iíd definitely want to sit elsewhere given the view and the poor facilities, which are just burger vans and portacabins at either side of the stand. Iíd have liked to have gotten to Bloomfield Road before its wholesale renovation and remember being enthralled by pictures of the massive uncovered terrace where the North Stand now sits. Aside from the East Stand, the other three stands are enclosed and of a similar height and design. If they raise the necessary funds to build a permanent structure on the east side then Bloomfield Road will be a tidy ground, although something about it just made me feel as though the three permanent stands had been thrown up quickly/built on the cheap. I couldnít help thinking that a bit more thought and care might have resulted in a nicer finish.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc...

The game was, unfortunately, one of the worst Iíve seen in ages. I have seen more than my fair share of poor matches in recent times and this one almost eclipsed last seasonís goalless encounter between Walsall and Rochdale in the borefest stakes. The only real chance of the game was when Bristol Cityís Tom Heaton pulled off an outstanding point-blank save from Kirk Broadfootís header, although City to be fair did have a second half effort chalked off for offside. Neither side were able to pass to any great effect as the pitch had cut up badly over previous weeks and the teams opted for aerial balls in case the poor surface contributed to them giving away possession. I had a steak pie and a coffee as the game kicked off and these were fairly standard. Even more disappointing than the lack of quality on the pitch, however, was the stewarding. The stewards were fairly quiet in the home areas but almost seemed to be goading some of the City fans into kicking off with their obstructive behaviour. I know away fans tend to be more boisterous than home supporters and often have a bit more to drink, but most are just up for a laugh and a good day on the road with their team and if more stewards up and down the country focused on that then even more people might travel to matches.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

I hate to say this but I could not wait for the game to end such was the lack of quality on offer. The pitch didnít help and both sides seemed content enough with a point, so I guess overall it wasnít as bad as it first appeared. I made a dash dead on full time and was back on the road within ten minutes, speeding out of Blackpool back to pick up my missus and her friend before going home. My convoluted route to Blackpool meant I drove a whopping 416 miles over the course of the day, but at least Iíd completed another ground!

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Every club is different in their own unique and special way but sadly I found it difficult to like Blackpool. The town really isnít the greatest and I found the ground to be a bit of a disappointment. However, the home fans backed their team throughout and considering how disappointing the game was their support was a big plus point. I have to say that the City fans also kept their spirits up throughout the game and I really hope they manage to retain their place in the Championship. Overall, I was pleased to have completed another new ground and even though I didnít enjoy the day anywhere near as some on my travels I might give myself another chance to warm to Blackpool at some point in the future. Next time though I think I will stay over, as I canít be doing with a drive like that again!

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