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Keepmoat Stadium
Doncaster Rovers
Notts County
  FA Cup 3rd Round
, January 7th 2012, 3pm
Steven Mills
(Notts County fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground?

Iíve not been to Doncaster before, and the reviews on this website made it sound as if it would be a good trip. The tickets were at reduced prices (just a tenner for adults) and Notts have developed a good record in the FA cup over the last few years, with victories at Sunderland and Wigan as well as the draw with Manchester City in the 4th round in 2011.

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

I travelled up by car with a friend, and finding the ground was easy enough, as the floodlights are very distinctive, and the area around the ground isnít very built up. We found a car park being operated out of an industrial estate courtyard which only cost £3. There was also some on-street parking, but that had all been taken by the time we arrived at 2.15pm. From there it was an easy 5 minute stroll to the away end, which has a separate ticket office marked ĎSoccer Centreí.

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

We had to go and buy our tickets, and with a bumper crowd expected in the away end, we didnít want to run the risk of having to sit in the home area. The stewards outside the turnstiles were helpful and more than willing to have a joke with the away fans, as were the home fans we encountered, who mostly seemed to be families. I heard after the game that a Beefeater pub near the ground had been Ďtaken overí by Notts fans, so there certainly are places to drink in the vicinity.

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

As I said, the Keepmoat has some distinctive floodlights, but aside from that, itís just another new bowl-style ground, with little character to speak of. It didnít help that the end opposite the away fans was closed, presumably to help the smallish home crowd create more of an atmosphere. Because the stadium is fully enclosed, it kept the wind off, which meant it wasnít too cold, and unless you happen to be in the first few rows of seats, you should be safe from any rain too.

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

Notts put up a performance at odds with the form book, looking dominant in all areas despite a brand new central defensive partnership and the fact our influential defensive midfielder Gavin Mahon was out injured. Doncaster didnít look up for the fight, and perhaps losing the in-form Billy Sharp, who was about to transfer out of South Yorkshire and didnít want to be cup-tied, didn't help. The Doncaster singers were directly to our left in the North West corner, and they had a drum that kept going until Notts scored a second goal from the penalty spot midway through the second half.

At about 85 minutes, most of the Doncaster support seemed to give up and go home. Iíve never seen a ground empty quicker of home fans than the Keepmoat, and by the time the final whistle blew the 2m917 Notts fans must have outnumbered the remaining Doncaster faithful.

At half time I went in search of a Chicken Balti pie, which, along with most of the other food, was priced at £3. However they seemed to have some sort of food shortage, and by the time I got to the front of the queue, I had to settle for a meat and potato pie, which was admittedly delicious. There are also separate bars just selling lager (Carlsberg) at £3 a bottle. The toilets were clean and as you would expect from a new ground.

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

As most of the Donny fans had already cleared off well before the end, it was easy enough to get away. The supporterís coaches were picking up right outside the away end, though Iím not sure how quickly they got away, as the roads around the stadium were clogged up for quite some time. We stopped at one of the abundant burger vans on the way back to the car, but it still took quite a while to get away from the area around the Stadium, with traffic stretching all the way to the A1(M).

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

All in all, I enjoyed the trip to Doncaster, and itís one that Iíd happily make again, something that looks quite likely as Donny look like going down to League One this season. The only blemish on the day were the traffic problems, but it only cost us half an hour or so, and we were back in Nottingham by half 6. 

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