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American Express Community Stadium, Brighton
v Leeds United,  Championship League
Friday, September 23rd 2011, 7.45pm
By Trevor Pickles

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

I had followed the Brighton fans struggle for a new ground for many years and from the pictures I had seen of the new stadium it looked a bit different to the norm.

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

The fixture had been changed by the 'Sky God' to a Friday evening which made the journey from Shropshire slightly longer than was anticipated. We had applied in advance for travel tickets for the Mill Road park and ride and a nice gentleman at the Brighton ticket office duly obliged free of charge! The Mill Road site is very easy to find and extremely well organised. The buses are frequent so we weren't stood around too long, The journey to the ground took about 20-25 mins mainly due to the sheer volume of traffic.

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

We had planned to grab something to eat outside the ground, however they don't seem to allow vendors anywhere near the stadium so we had little choice but to go inside.

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

From the outside the ground looks very modern and very impressive. Inside the West stand is quite imposing but you can't help but notice the large empty areas in the corners of the North stand, it makes everything look a little disjointed. Talking to Brighton fans after the game I believe they have plans to add another 8,000 seats at some point. The away end is a good layout with plenty of leg room and the added delight of padded seats.

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

We had the usual pat down body search on the way into the ground by the stewards, but once inside it was very relaxed. There is a good selection of food available with the standard pie and pint deal for £6.50 which may seem a tad expensive to some but we do have Ken Bates as a chairman!

The game itself was a belter. The Brighton fans were noisy until we raced into a 2-0 lead. They needn't have worried, in the second half we did our best to throw it all away by giving away a penalty and two goals from Makail Smith. We did manage to salvage a point in the 2nd minute of added time when Mccormack stepped up to grab his second of the night, making it 3-3, much to the relief of the travelling Whites.

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

This is where the problems start. We left the ground and made our way to the park and ride buses. We joined a large queue that snaked its way along the road and up a set of steps. As there are 3 destinations for the buses the stewards were trying to separate us into lines. This was hilarious as the steward involved didn't know his right from his left. Eventually after 35 mins we arrived at the top of the steps. The sight was utter chaos, there were no segregation barriers between buses and fans. The buses were trying to manoeuvre and turn around in between the lines of fans waiting to board, its an accident waiting to happen. We finally made our way onto a bus and left the ground 65 mins after exiting the stadium. I would estimate that there were around 400 fans behind us in the queue at that point. The one saving grace was it wasn't raining.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Having arrived back in the Midlands in the early hours of Saturday morning we enjoyed our Brighton experience, however the bus situation after the game put a bit of a dampener on the whole day. Tempers were getting a little fraid towards the end and that includes the locals. I have used park and ride many times before at Southampton and Reading and never seen such a degree of organised chaos or had to wait so long for transport. Sort it out Brighton your fans don't deserve this!

 

 

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