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St James' Park
Newcastle United v Crystal Palace
Wednesday 27th January 2010, 8pm
Championship League
By Andy Cross
(Crystal Palace)

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

For a long time I have wanted to go to St James Park. It was one of my favourite grounds, the tradition of the stadium, the club, and their fans which I'd heard so much about, so the moment the fixtures come out, this was the first away fixture I looked out for, seeing as we had no local rivals in the league this season!

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

We hired out our own coach with about 30 other boys from the Holmesdale Fanatics, and left from the site of the original Crystal Palace, were we took a photo of us all in front of the HF banner. Luckily, we was allowed beer on the coach, so it was a banter filled journey up to the toon! Although it was a good 7 hours to the ground, the excitement I was feeling of going to one of my all time favourite football league grounds sort of made up for the long journey!

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

Once we got to the ground there was a lot of pubs to choose from, many with strict doormen on, but most of them were pretty friendly, with a few police checking round the pubs as you do. The Newcastle fans were actually genuinely nice and helpful, involved with good friendly banter, we even met a bloke wearing a Sunderland shirt in a pub near the station, which I wasn't expecting! We ended up going in " Idols " which was sort of a nightclub, but it was amazingly quiet when we went in, and there wasn't a person in sight, so we had the whole place to ourselves. Plus buying a pint there were only around 2 which was surprisingly cheap. Good build up and sing-song before the game, and once we finished a few pints we headed towards the stadium.

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

One of the best things about St James Park, is that its situated practically right in the middle of the city, which makes it very easy to get to from the station, pubs etc. The ground looks amazing from outside, and really does tower over Newcastle. There's a lot of stairs to climb, to get right up to the away section though, but it was worth it as the views from the top were brilliant, not only a good view of the pitch but a good view of the Newcastle city as well. Mind you, if you have a problem with heights, I would suggest trying to sneak in to the lower tiers of the Home section as its a long olde way up!

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

The game was fairly good, and the players were giving a lot of passion considering it was only hours before the game we was put in administration, but it sort of bonded the players together more, and our fans were amazing, over 1,000 fans on a Wednesday night in the middle of January is pretty impressive and we certainly made up for it with noise! Surprisingly, I'd expected so much more from the Newcastle fans, as they only belted out a couple songs all game, but I was told it was one of there worst atmospheres from the home fans that season

At half time, it was clear the bar staff weren't prepared for such a large away following, as they ran out of stock extremely quickly, which was a disappointment. The toilets were fine as well, even if a bit crowded! The game ended in 2-0 to Newcastle, but the players did themselves proud, and deserved so much more.

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

As it was a Wednesday we decided to stay over for the night, and walking away from the ground was fine as we made it back to our hotel, got changed and hit the clubs! The nightlife is Newcastle is as good as it sounds, and it was a pretty amazing night, the people in Newcastle are extremely friendly, had a good few drunken chats with a couple of Geordies, but it was a night to remember and I'd absolutely love to do it again one day!

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Well what can I say, possibly the best away trip of my footballing life, great day out with the lads, great stadium, great atmosphere, and great nightlife. Would absolutely recommend this away trip to anyone, And I hope to visit there again one day!

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