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Preston North End v West Bromwich Albion
Championship League
Tuesday, January 29th 2008, 7.45pm

Steven Hunt
 (West Brom fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):
This was going to be a new ground for me and this Tuesday night match looked easy to get to. Plus there was the National Football Museum to look around and judging from looking at photos of the ground on the internet, I thought it was a nice looking stadium. I also looked forward to seeing a decent game.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking:
Went on the baggies travel (club coaches). Nice and quick and easy up the M6. Got on the motorway at Junction 1 of the M5 by the Hawthorns and then straight up the M6. We left at Junction 31 and we could soon see floodlights of the ground,

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?
Had a look around the National football museum, a little disappointed with the actual content within the museum but was a nice place to get in away from the cold for a hour after arriving very early. It was completely free to go and have a nose, and had a nice café inside that did a nice hot chocolate to warm up before the 7:45 kick off. Couple off pubs near by if you searched for them and to be honest the mixture between fans before the game was very pleasurable and calm. Had a little banter with a couple of PNE fans I chatted to around the museum. Very friendly.

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

The away stand seemed very steep. You only have to go up a few and you are higher than the goal and not obstructed by nothing at all. Outside the ground it looked very modern and new, the away end had a fitness centre built in under the stand and what looked to be a youth centre place. Entered the stand by the side which only had 4 turnstiles open which saw me wait a few minutes longer outside. Once in, just the same as any other stadium very spacious, however the inside divide was a couple of swinging doors which looked easy to get through to the PNE supporters, but they didn’t to expect to see any trouble but a derby game may be a problem.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..
Apart from the fact only 3 sides were built I believe they struggle for a fan support. It was sparse on all 3 sides and the atmosphere was very low unless you join in with away support chants. There was plenty of facilities inside the ground which were very decent. Hardly any stewards around the away support just a huge divide of seats between us and the away support which was easily 2000 seats. Police I saw outside the ground and not in and the game was very cold with a huge wind draft from the direction of the unbuilt stand. Albion lost 2-1. 

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
Club coaches with the police escort. All in and off 15 minutes after game and then 5 minutes of uninterrupted traffic to the motorway and straight home. Very professionally done by the police.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out
Pleasant but disappointed. Great stadium especially when the new stand is finished, but the football museum was largely forgetable. Still  I would recommend a visit, especially if you combine it with a weekend stopover in Blackpool.

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