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Selhurst Park
Crystal Palace v Swansea City
Premier League
Sunday 22 September 2013, 1.30pm
Michael McKay
(Neutral fan in the away section)

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

Crystal Palace is the last London club that I needed to check off my list. I have been to Fulham, Chelsea, Tottenham, and Arsenal (three times). As a foreigner, I had no expectations, but having been to the stadiums of the above mentioned Premier League regulars, I was in for a disappointment.

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

Using your website, I took the tube from King's Cross (where my train from Ely arrived) and got to Selhurst in around an hour or so. When we switched to the above ground train, I started seeing folks in the red and blue striped shirts get on the train. And then more. And more. The train was packed. The days was not warm, just cool enough for a light jacket, and by the time I got off the train, I was sweating through the back of my shirt. When we got off the train, I figured that I would follow everyone in the jerseys to the stadium. South London is nothing like Piccadilly Circus. It looks a little rough, and there was a ton of dog poop on the sidewalks.

The stadium emerges into view from the neighborhood flats. Unlike American stadiums, where there is usually some space cleared out around the sides to give fans panoramic views, Selhurst Park is packed in tight among the houses.

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

I did not budget enough time to go into any pubs or anything, though I kicked myself for it later. I saw a bunch of people sitting along brick rows with chip baskets slathered in curry sauce. I could smell it from a distance and my mouth watered.

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

The Holmesdale Road Stand was impressive, and the fanatics sat at the bottom left hand corner. They were constantly waving flags and beating drums. It looked like they were having a good time, even when Michu scored in like, the first five minutes.

I was in the far right corner of the Arthur Wait Stand with the Swansea fans. The stand was awful. Old wooden seats awaited me, and they were clearly built for miniature people. I am a fit 6'2", 190 pounds, and I was packed into my seat space like Spam in the tin. Fortunately, the away fans stood the whole time, so I could stretch out my legs and give my knees a break from pressing against the seat in front of me. All of the other stadiums I've been to had rules against standing for too long, which I actually appreciate, but the stewards didn't seem to bother the Swansea fans.

In addition to the awful seats, Selhurst Park has a lot of blocked sight lines due to support columns, AND the stupid TV catwalk. If the action was on the far side of the pitch, I would have to bend at the waist in order to scan underneath the catwalk.

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

The game was lively. The away fans sang a lot, as did the Fanatics. This is the only stadium that I've been to that had American style cheerleaders. I don't know why every team doesn't do this. It would create jobs and stimulate the economy, among other things. I also liked the flying eagle that they brought out during warm-ups. They have one similar at Auburn University in Alabama, only he flies around the bowl of the stadium at altitude. This eagle could only get about three feet off the ground. They may have had a weight around his talons to keep him from getting away.

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

I was so uncomfortable, and Swansea so thoroughly controlled the action, that I left at half time. It was easy to find the train station, and I beat any rush, so I couldn't give an accurate portrayal of a game-day exit.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Crystal Palace is now checked off the list. I will not return.


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