American Express Community Stadium, Brighton
Carling Cup 1st Round v Gillingham
Tuesday, August 9th 2011, 7.45pm
By Martin Brock

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

I’d seen Plymouth Argyle play at the awful Withdean Athletics Stadium, so I was interested to check out their new ground. With the clubs two divisions apart, visiting as a neutral seemed to be the best way, although I had a vested interest in seeing how Craig Noone and Ashley Barnes were getting on.

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

Easy. I travelled down from London Victoria by train, changed at Lewes and got a connection to Falmer straight away. You can’t miss the ground as it’s right by the station.

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

If you’re going to watch a match here, I recommend going into Brighton first as there is literally nothing at Falmer except the ground and the station. Brighton fans were pleasant, but that’s to be expected if you’ve just been promoted and have a shiny new stadium in which to watch Championship Football!.

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

I have a dislike of new grounds as they seem to follow the same bowl-like shape (e.g. Derby, Coventry, Stoke etc.) So I was pleasantly surprised by this stadium. The away fans are located in the South Stand behind one of the goals with big screens at either end. The roof has an interesting sloping shape and the three tier West Stand is very impressive. Seats are comfortable with plenty of leg room.

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

With no facilities around the ground, the club seem to be cashing in on food and drink prices. I had a nice steak pie and a pint of Harveys but at £6.50 for the two in the form of a meal deal, that seemed steep. With 16,500 in attendance, toilet facilities were also at a premium (as at the Emirates which is my main gripe with that ground) and most of half time was spent queuing for the loo. There are plenty of TV screens to watch while waiting and the board with train information is useful.

Inside the stadium, the Brighton fans were in good voice. Many were standing in the North Stand but the stewards didn’t seem too bothered about getting them to sit down. The match itself was a pretty turgid affair. Brighton had more of the play without creating too many chances, a couple of shots from Noone aside and it took a penalty from Barnes to put them through to the next round.

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

No problems at all. Easy walk to the station, short ride into Brighton and a connecting train straight back to London.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

I was pleased to make it to see the new ground so soon after its opening and the stadium itself didn’t disappoint. A Saturday visit would be better though, allowing time for a look around Brighton or Lewes, given the limitations of Falmer. Miles better than the Withdean though so it’s great that Brighton have finally managed to find a decent home of their own.


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