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Dean Court
AFC Bournemouth v Torquay United
Tuesday, August 31st 2010, 7.45pm
Johnstone's Paint Trophy
Mark Horler
(Torquay United fan)


1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):
 
I had not been to Dean Court, as it was known back then since the Stadium was rebuilt in 2001
 
2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
 
One of Torquay's nearest league teams, but still a difficult 2.5 hour journey dodging the Summer tourist traffic. Our route took us on the A30 past Exeter airport, Honiton, Dorcester. Very little dual carrigeway and too many caravans. The Sat Nav took us straight to the ground.
 
3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?
 
The ground is near Boscombe beach so we made our way down there in search of a chippy. Even though it was an August evening the place was very quiet. Two cafes we found were both closing (6pm!) and so we made our way back to the ground after a walk along the sea front. Boscombe town centre appears very run down in comparison to neighbouring Bounremouth, but not nearly as much as Cleethorpes. The area around the ground was very friendly. There seemed to be quite a surprise that Torquay had brough around 300 fans for a Johnson's Watching Paint Dry Cup Match.
 
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?
 
The first thing you notice about the ground is the sheer amount of space surrounding it on three sides. It is set in a park, which is obviously highly used by the local community. The other thing you notice is the high percentage of middle class supporters in relation to other lower league clubs. This is clearly a wealthy area, similar to the supporters at Cheltenham or Crawley.
 
The turnstiles did not open until 7.15pm, 30 minutes before kick-off. Bournemouth had done an excellent job of playing down the match on their website with comments such as "Only 2 stands will be open due to the low crowds traditionally experienced at JPT games" and "Manager will make 5 changes to team". Prices were cut to 10 for adults and 5 for concessions. Around half of what they usually charge.
 
Dean Court, as I will call it for old times sake was completely rebuilt in 2001. This is certainly not the ground for a football ground enthusiast. Bland is an understatement.
 
The designers got a lot right, good legroom, excellent views, large toilets, large exit gates. What they missed out on was an sort of character....and I mean any sort at all. This ground could be anywhere and more disappointing than anything is the state of disrepair it is in already - in less than 10 years after being built.
 
The roofs of the stands and the sides of the stands have perspex sheeting, which is fading to a tobacco brown colour, the seats, once bright and colourful, have started to fade, the walls outside parts of the ground are green with algae. 10 years on, it needs a good spruce up to be honest.
 
We were put in the East Stand. To our left was the temporary open end, which despite closing the ground on all 4 sides, still gives it a very open feel. Once again, as is so common nowadays, we were so far away from the home fans you would have thought we were Leeds United!
 
Torquay's away support is quite loud, but was met with little from the North Stand, where most of the louder Bournemouth fans stood. Opposite the Main Stand looked like a subbuteo stadium with no one moving for what seemed like the entire match.
 
Had the away fans been moved towards the North Stand the atmosphere would have been so much better. 
 
5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..
 
The stewards were clearly bored and overstaffed, but, to be fair, friendly. We had disabled supporter with us, so asked for parking and it took no fewer than 3 of them to decide where to put us, moving us three times before eventually putting us as far from the away turnstiles as it was possible to get! The car park was only one third full! There was also this awkward disbelief from the stewards, that you only seem to get at football, that because our disabled guest did not have a wheelchair or a stick....how could he possibly be disabled! More training needed I think!
 
Once inside the ground this same fan sat in the front row "You can't sit there...that's for disabled supporters"...and so the saga continued.
 
The stewards were overall a laid back bunch. The singing fans stood the whole match with no issues. The flags were allowed up, but in the far corner...which sort of defeated their purpose.
 
Pasties, pies, burgers were 3. Very commercial food with branded staff and signage and as always a complete rip off.
 
Torquay won 3 - nil on penalties. The match was not bad, but I think the whole crowd was relieved when there was no extra time. The way in which Bournemouth took their penalties did make me wonder if they truely wanted to win the tie....which, if they missed deliberately would have been so unfair to their 3,000 supporters....but that linked to the club statements before the game did make me wonder...

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
 
The crowd was 3,140, half of Bournemouths average. It still took us a good twenty minutes to get a mile from the ground.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
 
A good evening out, yet another Torquay clean sheet and a chance for a pop at Exeter or Plymouth in the next round....now that would not be watching paint dry!

 


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