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Amex Stadium
Brighton & Hove Albion v Huddersfield Town
Championship League
 Saturday December 23rd 2013, 3pm
James Prentice
(Doing the 92)

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

I had wanted to get to get to the Amex ever since it was opened but had found tickets rather hard to come by. I earmarked a couple of possible fixtures when the 2013/14 fixtures were announced and, as Brighton put tickets on sale much earlier than many other clubs, I was able to reserve a seat plus book cheap rail tickets well in advance of the match. I have a few friends who had previously visited the ground and had been really impressed with the quality and design of the stadium, especially as the acoustics allow for an excellent atmosphere to be generated.

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

The day started very early, with a train journey from Lincoln to Newark North Gate before a change to a direct service to King’s Cross. After alighting, I made the short walk ‘next door’ to St Pancras before getting the next train for Brighton. As match tickets guarantee return travel within a specified zone (see the club website for details), it meant I was able to go into Brighton before making my way to the stadium for the match. The Amex is situated right next to Falmer station and virtually everybody seemed to make their way there by train.

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

After arriving in Brighton I went for a walk down to the seafront and along the pier before taking a look in a couple of shops. The weather was inhospitable to say the least and it seemed like a good day to stay undercover if possible, so after buying a badge in the club shop in the centre of Brighton and having a quick pint at a local Wetherspoons, I made my way back to the station to get the next train back to Falmer. After arriving, I went for a walk around the Amex before going for a couple of pints in Dick’s Bar, which is a really pleasant and convenient place to have a drink before the game. The bar showed the lunchtime game between Liverpool and Cardiff and was serving pies as well as a good range of lager and ales.

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

As at MK Dons’ ground, fans enter the Amex through a set of barriers rather than individual turnstiles, which seemed to keep the crowds moving well. After grabbing a pie, I made for my seat (in the North Stand) before taking in the inside of the ground for the first time. The design of the Amex is certainly impressive and even though the fans were relatively quiet for much of the game they were able to generate a fair bit of noise when feeling sufficiently stirred to do so. The two stands at the side of the pitch look pretty magnificent and imposing and the only disappointing factor is that the stands behind both goals look as though they could have been made slightly bigger, even two tiered, which would have improved the overall look. As a note of caution, make sure you take waterproof clothing if rain is forecast and you’re situated on the first ten or so rows closest to the pitch; fortunately my seat was at the back of the stand but I noticed that a number of people got soaked throughout the game because the roof does not extend right across to shelter fans sitting on the front rows!

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

The game was a real borefest I’m afraid – 0-0 does seem to be the most likely score whenever I go to a match as a neutral! Both sides on occasions looked as though they might be able to take the initiative but as the second half wore on it looked as though both were content with a point. The Huddersfield fans travelled quite well considering that this weekend – the last before Christmas – is usually quite poorly attended - and were a credit to their club. My pie was quite tasty and the stewards were pretty anonymous, which is usually quite a good thing! The concourse in the North Stand was quite wide, which meant that there was not a great deal of overcrowding before the game and at half time.

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

Given that a late goal seemed highly unlikely I left with a couple of minutes to go and braved the wind and rain that greeted me as I made the short walk back to Falmer station. The crowds seemed to disperse pretty quickly and were well marshalled by stewards and police alike. One interesting point is that a lot of fans apparently stay behind after the game and enjoy a pint or two before going home; indeed the concourses stay open for some time after the final whistle, which allows fans to hang around and chat before leaving. There are even television screens that show the latest train departures from Falmer station so that supporters can get away exactly when they need to. After getting a train back into Brighton, a caught the next service back to London before then getting back into Lincoln for 10.40pm. A long day but one cannot put a price on ticking a new ground off the list!

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

I had an enjoyable day out but I couldn’t help but think that it would have been better had the weather not been so awful. The Amex would be a great stadium to go to during the summer months or right at the end of the season and Brighton would be a good place to enjoy a weekend away should time allow. Whilst there are a couple of things about the ground that could be improved upon, it is a million miles away from Brighton’s former home at the Withdean and a lot of fans must still be pinching themselves that they are finally in residence at their new home. I would like to go back to the Amex at some point and was pleased to have made the visit. I would encourage fans to get there while they can, because the club appears to be upwardly mobile and has ambitions to play in the Premier League and tickets will be hard to come back if and when they make the jump into the top flight.

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