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Riverside Stadium
Middlesbrough v  Liverpool
Premier League
Saturday 28th February 2009,3pm
Paul Simpson

(Liverpool fan)

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

With me not being a Season Ticket holder for Liverpool, it is very hard to get sorted for away games. I decided I would buy a ticket for the home end for this match, due to the ticket only being £17 for under 18’s, and the ease of buying a ticket on Middlesbrough’s website. I was looking forward to it because away games with Liverpool are fantastic, the following is always sold out, the atmosphere is great, and everyone stands, which I prefer, also it would be my first visit to the Riverside.

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

After leaving Sheffield at around 10:30, hoping to get there at about 1:30, I got to the ground at 12pm, and with the game kicking off at 3, I had gotten to the ground far too early. This was because the route on the motorway was pretty much totally clear, barely any traffic, It was slightly irritating that I had loads of time to spare, however better to be early than late of course.

The ground was very easy to find, satellite navigation never lets you down. I parked on a bit of wasteland on dockside road, which cost a reasonable £5, much better than the extortionate prices at Anfield.

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

I sat in the car listening to the radio for about half an hour, then decided that I would walk up to the ground. The ground looks rather plain and doesn’t really seem to have anything special about it from the outside, the design of the ground is just a sort of bowl. The surrounding area is nothing special at all, it seems that the ground is really in the middle of nowhere. I walked around the ground and looked at the front entrance which has the old Ayresome Gates, I felt this was a nice touch. I then realised that I had no money to buy anything to eat or a programme, which meant I had to make the 15 minute walk into the Town centre for a cash machine, by this time I was freezing and desperate for the toilet.

When I returned to the ground, I purchased the worst beef burger and chips from a  refreshments van at a game ever! I stood outside the away end and watched the stewards open the turnstiles, I felt very jealous that I couldn’t be going into the away end, however, I noticed the ‘visiting supporters ticket office’ next to our turnstiles, I thought I may as well go up to the office and try my luck for a ticket. The woman behind the desk said they were sold out, however she directed me to a bloke that had some spares, RESULT! I went up to him and asked to see if he had any under 18 tickets, he did. I only had £16 on me, but he still gave me one. I was over the moon, now I just had to sell my home ticket, I simply went to the North Stand ticket office and returned it with no problems at all.

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

When entering our end, the steward asked me for ID for my under 18 ticket, I was astonished, luckily I had my drivers license and was allowed entry. The concourse is rather tight and cramped, however there are screens to watch the noon kick off, which was our lovely neighbours in blue, versus West Brom. After about an hour on the concourse mingling with the reds fans, I made my way to my seat in block 62. The ground is not very impressive, like many new style grounds, it desperately lacks character. However the view from the away end is nothing to complain about.

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

The game was nothing I would really like to talk about. With us desperately needing a win to keep up the chase on United, who were storming in the league, we put on one of the worst displays I have seen away from Anfield, and lost 2-0. The players didn’t even clap us at the end, which was very infuriating. Looking back now, that game was where we lost the title. One other thing is that I have heard stories that the stewards are very strict on persistent standing at Boro, we had no problems with this and the stewards never bothered to tell us to sit down.

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

After an utterly dire game and performance, I wanted to get away from the Riverside as soon as possible. The queues leaving the car park were absolutely terrible, we had to wait for all the fans to disperse from dockside road, and then very slowly make my way to the A66, it took about an hour and 15 minutes to get on the A66, after that it was plain sailing back to Sheffield.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

The day out is something I would rather forget. After the luck of getting a ticket in our end, the rest was a total disaster. The ground really needs some history and some character. Dare I say it, I am glad I don’t have to be making the trip to The Riverside anytime soon after their relegation to the Championship.

Are you an away or general football fan who has visited the Riverside Stadium recently?
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