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American Express Community Stadium, Brighton
v Nottingham Forest,  Championship League
Saturday, December 3rd 2011, 3pm
By Jason Simpkins

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

Brighton would tick off the 71st ground that I had attended of the current 92. Plus as Forest had sold out of their allocation of 2,400 tickets it promised to be a cracking day out.

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

Thankfully I wasn’t driving as I had been to watch Kasabian at Nottingham Arena the night before. With more than a few beers consumed during the night, I was feeling slightly delicate when I was picked up at Nottingham Train station at 9.30am. My state of mind was made worse when I realised that I had left my mobile and keys at home, however, thanks to my wonderful wife realising and dropping them off to me, we were only delayed by 10 minutes to the relief of all four of us in the car!

Andy ‘Mossman’ Moss was the designated driver on the uneventful 3 ½ hour trip down the M1/M25/M23 with Graham ‘Mossy’ Moss and Vito ‘Serge Pizzorno’ Palmer making up the travelling quartet. After reading the previous reviews on this esteemed guide (which is our bible on away trips), we decided to head for Lewes to park up and enjoy pre match liquid refreshment prior to the game. We actually passed the ground on our approach to Lewes, which is around 5 miles or so away. We parked in the Lewes train station car park for a fiver but please note that you need change as notes are not taken!


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

We headed into Lewes town centre from the station passing a packed Lansdown pub on the corner before popping into the White Hart Hotel on the High Street. After a swift beer served by the world’s most miserable barmaid we went up the road and settled into Lincolns where we had lunch, a few beers and the whole place to ourselves! Trains depart Lewes for Falmer every 10 minutes so after buying a return ticket for £3.30 we caught the 2.30pm train. The train was fairly full but nothing major and six minutes later we stopped right outside the bottom of the ground.

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

The ground looked impressive from the outside but is literally in the middle of nowhere with countryside all around. Upon entering the away end via the ticket scanner method, we made a post haste visit to the toilets, which were clean and functional. There was a large TV screen on the concourse with photos of Forest players in action from last season and the refreshment kiosks looked to be doing a roaring trade, however we did not partake at this stage and went up to our seats.

We were sat on the right of the away end and having a good look around the ground I couldn’t help but agree on previous comments that it looked half finished. The three tiered stand looked impressive, however the rest of the stands were basic one tiered in height. If the corners were filled in then it would certainly add to the overall look of the ground. As the Forest fans stood for the duration of the game, I couldn’t comment on the comfort of the seats for any length of time, however there was plenty of leg room and it was good to see that a club had spent a bit extra and thought about the comfort of the fans for once!


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

The first half was very poor from both sides but Forest totally bossed the second half and as the game wore on it was felt it was only a matter of time when Forest would score. The atmosphere was rather muted I thought overall with any chanting seeming to drift off into the air. The Forest fans did their best to rally the team and this got louder and louder as the game wore on. Brighton were very poor all game, but in the second minute of second half injury time they scored with their only attack to break Forest hearts both on and off the pitch. As the ref blew the final whistle the Forest fans gave the team a standing ovation as they did not deserve to lose but as they say, ‘That’s Football’!

Again going on the information we had read on previous reviews, we decided to stay for a beer in the ground and let the crowds drift away as with seemingly one way in and out the train station would be rammed for a good hour after the game. Many Forest fans had the same idea and there was a scrum at the bar to get a drink with first one then the other refreshment bar running out of lager! We didn’t fancy the Harvey’s real ale so settled for a Strongbow and there was a few grumbles from Forest fans. I would of thought that they would have plenty of barrels of lager in stock if they are encouraging people to stay after the game or are Forest fans simply big drinkers?! (The cynics would say you need to be drunk watching Forest this season and I would agree that a few beers certainly helps)! I was told by a fellow Red that you could gain entry to other bars in the ground with your match ticket, however I did not attempt this so I am unsure if this is true or not? I didn’t really notice the stewards, which is a good thing as they must have done their jobs without the heavy handedness that we experience where we sit for home games at Forest.


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

We left the ground at 6 o’clock and caught the train back to Lewes with no hassle with vastly reduced crowds, which vindicated the idea to stay for a beer. Upon arriving at Lewes none of us had shown our tickets and we could have potentially saved £3.30, however this would have obviously been illegal and any short term gains financially would have given way to a deep sense of unlawfulness......Back in the car we had no issues getting out of Lewes and passed the ground with no traffic problems at all. Another uneventful journey back apart from some fairly noxious gases being emitted by one of the group throughout the journey until a pit stop on the M1 cured the culprit! After being dropped off in Nottingham City Centre at 9.45pm and catching the bus I was home for half ten.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Very enjoyable day out despite the heart breaking manor of the result and I would definitely go again. I would recommend going to Lewes beforehand as it is easy to get in and out with no hassle and a good place for a few pre match beers.

 

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