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Broadfield Stadium
Crawley Town v Brentford
Tuesday, February 26th 2013, 7.45pm
League One
  By Toby Maxstone-Smith
(Brentford fan)

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

This was Brentford’s first visit to the Broadfield Stadium and, as a relatively local midweek away-day, there was no way I would consider missing out. A major reason I particularly looked forward to this away game in particular is that it is one of only two grounds in League One, the other being our very own Griffin Park, where the away section is a covered terrace. At Brentford we have a proper ‘home end’, the Ealing Road terrace, and it saddens me to see clubs where the atmosphere has been lost among the seating.

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

A bit of a nightmare. I met my friend at Victoria hoping to get the 17:44 to Crawley, which would take around forty minutes. All trains to Crawley had been cancelled. Luckily, however, my friend’s Dad works at Gatwick Airport, so we hopped on the Gatwick Express and got a lift to the ground at the other end. The journey from Gatwick to the ground took around twenty minutes and we were there about three quarters of an hour before kick-off.

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

The club do not have a dedicated away ticket office, so you have to walk round to the back of the Main Stand to find the small ticket booth. The home fans seemed friendly despite the very large, and very vocal, away presence. Then we headed straight into the stadium.

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

The away fans are allocated the KRL stand behind the goal, which also extends round the corner and next to the West (Main) Stand. Teams with smaller away followings will be given around half the end. There are also around 200 seats available in the temporary East Stand. I stood almost directly behind the goal, where the best atmosphere was created by the fantastic Bees away support (around 1,100 in a crowd of 3,700). The ground is small, and still feels a bit ‘non-league’. With trees visible behind the stands the ground has something of a rural feel. The West Stand is an impressive looking stand in front of which are the dugouts. Opposite is the Bruce Winfield terrace, the home end, which is virtually identical to the away end. On the east side of the ground is a temporary stand and, while it is covered, there are around 15 supporting pillars.

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

I bought a burger inside the ground, which was among the best I have had at any ground in the country and was a reasonable £3. The game itself was fantastic. We were awarded a penalty in the first minute and the Crawley defender was sent-off. Up stepped Clayton ‘Donaldinho’ Donaldson, to put it wide. However an excellent strike from Sam Saunders and a Donaldson tap in meant we went in 2-0 at half-time. The atmosphere in the away end in the first half was one of raucous celebration – surely even Brentford couldn’t mess up a two-goal advantage against ten men. The whole half just reinforced my opinion that terracing automatically means a better atmosphere. The Crawley fans seemed fairly subdued, but it would unfair to judge them in a match where they were up against it for so long.

The second half started in the same vein, with some terrific banter going on with the Crawley stewards. On the hour mark Adam Forshaw went over in the box. Penalty! No, second yellow card for a ‘dive’ and it was 10 versus 10. Five minutes later, they scored, so we had gone from possibly being 3-0 up against ten to being 2-1 up with the same number of players on the pitch. And there were still 25 minutes left. Luckily, we held on to secure a victory that was made even sweeter by the news of several promotion rivals dropping points.

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

1,200 West Londoners roared out into the Sussex night and, despite some fairly provocative chanting (you’re just a car park for Gatwick), there was no trouble getting away from the ground. We made the twenty-minute walk to the station where we boarded a delayed train home.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of day out:

A vital three points that should have been a lot easier than it was. We didn’t play particularly well, but the atmosphere from the away fans was among the best all season. Hopefully we will go up, but that would mean missing out on this away trip next season. I would definitely go back.

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