1. Why you were looking
forward to going to the ground (or not as the
case may be):
Since Crawley’s rise to the heady heights of
League One the average journey to an away game
is now 185 miles. This made Bournemouth a
veritable local derby. That combined with the
helpful timing of the game between Boxing Day
and New Year and the fact that I have family in
the area meant that it was an easy game to
The family visit took place in the morning and I
realised that the family members I was visiting
only lived three quarters of a mile from the
ground. With hindsight I should have walked…!
Crawley had been in a good run of form recently
with two good away wins (Including Portsmouth on
Boxing Day) so expectation was high.
2. How easy was your journey/finding the
The drive to and From Bournemouth was extremely
easy. Despite warnings of localised flooding
near Chichester, there were no delays to speak
of. Heavy rain on the way home made the drive
hard work, but at no stage was it difficult or
painfully long. Door to door was easily under
Finding the ground was simple enough and car
parking was ample despite the warnings the day
before. Having said that, we arrived early
(12:20) with a view to having lunch before the
game. Car parking cost a pound and our early
arrival secured us a space within 20 feet of the
exit and pointing in the right direction.
3. What you did before the game pub/chippy....
home fans friendly?
On a normal home game as an away fan you have
the choice of lunch at the pavilion in the park
or the Legends Café and Bistro at the ground.
The 1910 Supporters Bar at the ground is for
home fans only. Sadly as the game fell during
the holiday period the Pavilion was not open. We
made our way to the Legends Café and Bistro at
12:20 and attempted to order some food. At this
point we were told we couldn’t order food
because they stopped serving at 1pm on a match
day. When I pointed out that it was only 12:20 I
was told that “well we’re stopping early today.
You can get a burger in the ground later if you
want”. It wasn’t exactly the warm welcome I was
expecting to a Café and Bistro on match day.
Stopping food at 1pm on a normal Saturday seems
a bit odd. The bar itself was somewhat lifeless
and a little clinical. The bar ran out of draft
bitter by 1pm and keg bitter by 1:15. The bar
was poorly understaffed and when the Crawley
support arrived (all 380 of us) they seemed
The few home fans in the Legends Bar weren’t
particularly friendly or talkative and most
seemed to resent the presence of away fans in
their bar. Whilst not hostile I wouldn’t class
the atmosphere as welcoming.
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first
impressions of away end then other sides of the
Three sides of the ground look very impressive,
but without a South Stand of any sort it looks a
bit odd. The away fans are put on the South end
of the East Stand next to the open end of the
ground which gave you the added pleasure of
feeling detached from the main atmosphere whilst
at the same time being blasted in the face by a
strong South Westerly wind coming straight in
off the channel. This is definitely a ground to
wrap up for as an away fan. Seating was
comfortable enough and being well over six foot
myself this made a welcome change to most seated
5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere,
stewards, pies, facilities etc..
Despite the promise of burgers in the ground, no
food was available. There is a bar though which
is great if you’re 40 but not so good for my 8
year old son. The stewards were clearly
embarrassed by the lack of food and one of the
female stewards even let us back out of the
ground and walked us round to the outside of the
North Stand in the middle of the home fans so we
could buy a couple of hot dogs. She then walked
us back round to the away end and let us in
through a side door. All of the stewards were
welcoming, polite and friendly.
Prior to the game the referee Lee Probert who
was the referee when Crawley played Man Utd at
Old Trafford came over to speak to the
Crawley fans during his warm-up. A nice,
unexpected and unusual gesture.
A few of the slightly more inebriated Crawley
fans (clearly too much Christmas cheer) gave
some of the stewards a fair bit of stick until
the other Crawley fans told them to shut up, but
not once were they greeted with anything but a
smile from the Stewards.
The game itself was something of a damp squib.
Crawley captain Gary Alexander won possibly his
first header of the season to score after 16
minutes, sadly however in the wrong net. A
sleepy defence at a free kick towards of the end
of the first half sealed our fate and the
lacklustre performance continued throughout the
second half to tee up the inevitable third goal.
The biggest round of applause all day from the
Crawley fans was for former Crawley talisman
Matt Tubbs as he came on as a late substitute
for Bournemouth. Crawley were well beaten by a
revitalised team that surely must be favourites
for promotion to the Championship now. The speed
of play (and thought) left Crawley in their wake
and Crawley simply didn’t have the ability to
deal with them.
6. Comment on getting away from the ground after
Although only 20 feet from the exit of the car
park and not hanging around once the final
whistle went, it still took nearly 30 minutes to
get as far as the main road. The ground is down
a single road and there would appear to be many
who saved the £1 car parking fee to park in side
roads as the exit did seem to take a while.
7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
Whilst easily accessible on the way in, the exit
wasn’t smooth and the lack of any food matched
with surly service and a breezy, three-quarter
stadium didn’t exactly get us in the mood for a
happy day out. The performance of Crawley was
the final nail in the coffin, but Bournemouth in
their current form are a delight to watch. I’m
sure that once the new South Stand is completed
and somebody works out how to order food that
the experience will improve significantly.