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American Express Community Stadium
Brighton & Hove Albion v Reading
Championship League
Tuesday, April 10th 2012, 7.45pm
By Luke Rogan

I booked my tickets for this match way in advance. I aim to visit at least two new grounds per season. The two I had picked this season were Doncaster and Brighton. Unfortunately Doncaster was called off as I was on the M1 passing through Leicestershire, so Brighton was to remain the only new stadium completed this year.

I had the day off so I took a car full of us down the M23 and parked near the City and enjoyed the beach in the sun. However, enroute to the ground – the problems began. In rush hour traffic, we found the “park and ride” (bought tickets from the club shop in the city centre – who didn’t know where the park and rides were, and only knew the names of the sites because they “over heard” someone mentioning them earlier in the day). The “park and ride” was simply a closed off road directly off the main round about where the A23 goes into Brighton. The spaces were limited and despite being hours early I just managed to get one of the last spaces. We then queued (after queuing in the car for a lengthy time for a space) for the shuttle bus to the stadium. After nearly breaking down on the way we finally got there.

From first glances, the stadium looks great albeit slightly Americanised. As we had food and drink already on the beach (recommended if the weather permits) we didn’t stop off anywhere near the ground (as it’s in the middle of nowhere).

I had heard about the local guest ale’s and the relevant club’s players or hero’s projected in the concourse. However, sadly this is just an empty gimmick. There was a small, hardly noticeable projecting of a photo taken from the home leg against them in the far top left corner and the guest ale was London Pride.

I headed to my seat early to soak some atmosphere and instantly regretted it. Although the stadium was impressive, the music playing had a “family day out” feel to it rather than a football match. The PA system was loud and irritating.

The game itself was a long old struggle for us. We had two shots on target, one of which was the goal we scored (on the 14th minute), the rest of the game was holding off waves of Brighton pressure. The home fans weren’t too loud but when they won the penalty it gave them something to cheer and the ground really does have potential for some cracking atmospheric matches. Fortunately for us, they missed and the ground grew quiet again.

After the game, we joined the seemingly everlasting queue to get on the bus then the inevitable struggle to get away from the park and ride which sadly dented the day slightly. A ground in so much space surely needs better transport resources. The amount of Brighton fans leaving early despite copious amount of late pressure is an indication as to how bad things are. However, despite the transport problems, it was a good day and its certainly one to visit.

 

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