First Fitness Stadium - Bournemouth
Tuesday, March 17th 2009,
v Bradford City, League Two, 7.45pm.
By Adam Baker
Obviously as a Bradford fan, a 550 mile round trip to Bournemouth on a Tuesday night was a not a prospect I was particularly looking forward to. However, having not missed a league game for a number of seasons, out of force of habit and a sense of duty I felt I had no alternative but to set off on this never-ending trek to support those in Claret and Amber, down in sunny Dorset. This was in fact the second time Iíd made the trip. Earlier in the season the said match was postponed due to rain, but having booked an overnight stay I went anyway for a weekend with the family.
I travelled down on the official supporters coach for this one and so had no problem in getting to the ground. I had visited The Fitness First Stadium twice before by car and found it very accessible. There is ample parking and the coaches were able to park right up against the away turnstiles. It is also within walking distance from the sea-front (Boscombe sea-front that is), a good 15 minutes or so away.
The coach arrived at the ground at around 6pm so I had plenty of time to kill. For mid-March it was a very mild evening so while many of the City fans went off to find a pub or take-away I took a very pleasant stroll around the small park next to the ground. It was a really nice family atmosphere and a good leg-stretch after being sat on a coach since mid-day. Parents were playing football with their children and there were a lot of people jogging around the cricket pitch, taking advantage of the sun.
The ground itself is also one of the better grounds in League Two (and League One for that matter) in terms of facilities, despite there being no stand behind the goal next to the away section. Large clean toilets, good refreshments and a decent view of the pitch from one end of the east-stand go in the grounds favour. However I find the Fitness First Stadium, or Dean Court to give it its original name, slightly bland, just like any typically fairly new stadia. Yes the acoustics allow a good noise to be made from the away fans and from the home end, but if you want charm and character then the Fitness First is no place to watch football.
From a Bradford City fanís point of view the game was terrible. Having had a similar trek to Exeter the week before ending in a 1-0 defeat and another away trip to Rochdale the game prior to that, finishing 3-0 to Rochdale, I wasnít holding out much hope for this third away trip on the trot. This one was even worse, ending in a 4-1 defeat for my beloved Bradford. A horror show in defence simply gifted Bournemouth the win, and left the away contingent with no complaints at all about the score line. The atmosphere was pretty good though, making our own entertainment, given the calamities on the pitch, we had the usual banter with the home crowd.
Previously in the car it had taken a while to get away after the
game, from the car park, and it was no different on the coach. The joy of
Bournemouth fans and our own demoralised band meant that there were a few
profanities aimed at our coach on the way out, but there was no real
malice intended. Unfortunately a Bradford fan on the coach decided to show
his derriere out of the coach window, directly in sight of a police
officer who came aboard and had a few stern words. But all in all a trip
to Dean Court, like most grounds now-a-days, makes for a very family
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