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Etihad Stadium
Manchester City 
v Newcastle United
Monday, August 19th 2013, 8pm
Premier League
 
Michael Potter
(Newcastle United fan)

I was really looking forward to visiting Manchester City - partly to see what looked like a magnificent ground and savour the atmosphere but also to see the moneybags Citizens playing on their home turf.

I was a bit anxious beforehand because I had read about problems such as extreme hostility from home fans and even coins being thrown but all these worries were misplaced - Man City fans were mainly friendly and even helpful, before and after the game, but then again we did get thrashed 4-0, they probably felt sorry for us! :-) However it's worth saying several Man City fans struck up conversations with me and other Newcastle fans and I did think there was a lot of goodwill towards us which was great and certainly needs to be reciprocated when Man City play at St James' Park.

I parked at the ground which cost 10, you pay the stewards as you drive in. It's a good set-up although you face a very long wait to get out after the game. I then got the tram into the city (All day ticket costs 4.90) because I arrived early in the day so I could go into town for something to eat etc.. That was easy for me to do because it was a night game but for normal 3pm kick offs you need to be aware there is very little in terms of places to get food or have a drink near the ground. However there are catering facilities provided by the club outside the stadium and these include bars.

Overall I was very impressed by the stadium, with wide, safe concourses and architectural features that make it a stunning place to watch a football game. The club deserve a lot of praise for their efforts to entertain fans before the game - there are two stages with live music outside the ground and a live Man City TV hype up with interviews of players etc. Many clubs including my own have a lot to learn here.

Security was strict but friendly getting into the ground and I found all the Man City staff approachable and helpful. The catering is okay but the range of beers is a bit grim, Fosters, Amstel, John Smiths and Heineken. I would have loved to see some real ale or even just Guinness.

I enjoyed reading the programme (3) which was one of the best I've seen although I also recommend the excellent fanzine which is on sale outside the ground, it's called King of the Kippax (3)

The atmosphere during the game was electric at the start as both sets of fans unleashed their excitement and enthusiasm pent up from a whole summer without football. There were some aggressive exchanges between some idiot Newcastle fans and some equally daft Man City fans but overall the two sets of fans showed each other a lot of respect, with Newcastle fans taking full part in the one minute applause to mark the recent death of Man City great Bert Trautmann.

Coming out of the ground was a bit full-on because the police were not letting anyone from the away end walk any direction but one - too bad if your car was parked in the other direction like mine, I just had to wait. Once I got to the car and out of the traffic clogged streets near the ground the drive out of the city and back to Geordieland was easy and straightforward.

Overall despite seeing the Mags play very badly and get a spanking from a far superior team on the night I did really enjoy the experience. I can't help reflect that not too long ago Man City were a passionately supported great underachiever just like Newcastle still are - hopefully next time I come back to Eastlands we will have undergone some kind of Man City-like transformation and it won't be a case of men and boys on the pitch like it was this time!


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