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Goldsands Stadium
AFC Bournemouth v Charlton Athletic
  Saturday, August 3rd, 2013, 3pm
League One
James Butler
(Charlton Athletic fan)

When this fixture came up as our first game of the season it was, for me, a must go to match. Newly promoted team, albeit one we knew quite well of late from our time in League One, in a beautiful part of the country.

Normally we would go by coach, but a combination of my new car and getting my companion Del Boy out of the proverbial with his wife meant we went by car. Still a simple journey, no problem, except August is of course holiday season and a brief look at the route from North West Kent to the Dorset Coast will tell you all you need to know about how the traffic could be at that time of year. May be 3 Ĺ hours to do a 135 mile journey is not that bad, but itís not good either. Thanks to good old Google I had extensively research the surrounding area and discovered a nearby leisure centre where the parking is free and almost empty. I canít remember the name of the centre, but for anyone who is interested; come of the A388 at the Bournemouth hospital exit, go down to the huge set of lights by the hospital, turn right into posh housing estate and follow signs to leisure centre. From there it is just over a mile walk through a very pleasant park, bringing you right to the ground by the away turnstiles.

Outside the away stand Bournemouth have created a wall of fame depicting teams and scenes from the past. A great idea, fascinating to see how many famous faces have played/managed in this part of the world. By this time, an hour before the kick-off we needed food and drink, here the park land location of the ground comes unstuck. The only option was the ground itself with the normal fayre on offer. The beer at £3 pint was reasonable, although I doubt it was actually a pint, but I am sorry I donít do football ground food. The bad traffic had meant that we had to abandon our plans to have a nice lunch in the New Forest beforehand.

The ground is neat and tidy with three almost identical stands, which whilst not huge, offer a perfect view of the game. At £22 per ticket offers great value for money, other clubs, including Charlton, take note, Palace hang your heads in shame. New for the this season is the Ted MacDougall stand behind the goal to our immediate left, this has a very temp look about it, but it does the job.

The atmosphere as the game began was great. The home fans made there noise and as usual the away fans made even more. As is the norm the home fans settle to watch the football, the beer fueled away fans sing. It seems the same up and down the country. The game itself was okay. Neither side was great, but neither was bad, some statue defending by the Charlton defence gave Bournemouth the lead mid-way through the first half. Strangely the game then just continued in the same vein.

Second half started with a wonder volley from Yann ďthe beastĒ Kermogant, Leicesterís favourite son. This cranked the atmosphere right up in the away section, but did nothing again for the game in general. Twenty minutes from the end a good strike form Bournemouth saw them retake the lead, which they never look like losing. The home fans now sensing an opening day win found their voices. The Charlton fans now a little deflated and a degree more sober slowly drifted away as we were reduced to 10 men. The stewarding was friendly and efficient. We were  larger than any away contingent they had seen the whole of last season. They were relaxed about standing, perhaps a little too relaxed with regard to some infringements into the gang ways. The police videoing the away fans was a little weird, but then again the smoke bomb thrown by the Charlton fans as the teams came out was completely unnecessary and may have provoked the videoing. They lost interest at half time anyway.

After the match we were back in the car inside twenty minutes and home indoors by 7.30pm, journey time 2hours 5 mins. Thatís more like it!

Great day out despite the result, but you canít and wonít win them all. Bournemouth is  a lovely town in a beautiful part of the country, weather help on our visit. The crowd was 10,000, which is a good turnout in these parts, if a crowd of this size is expected for your visit I suggest you find the leisure centre, not the club car park which looked an absolute nightmare. Supporters coaches are parked right by away exit, they made a quick get way. Train seemed overly complicated for such a small town, go to Bournemouth, take a local train, you get enough of that rubbish in London. I would certainly return and recommend Bournemouth to any fan in the Championship, although I realise that the geographical location does not make it an easy visit for clubs further afield than Charlton. Make the effort itís worth it.

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