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St Mary's Stadium
Southampton v  Notts County
League One
Saturday 15th January 2011,3pm
By James Spring
(Notts County fan)

Being a Notts County supporter living in sunny Weymouth means I only really get to see Notts play when we play in the South, so I had been looking forward to the trip to St Marys since the fixtures were released. I also have a mate who is a Saints fan, so the plan was to meet up before and after the game.
We caught the train from Weymouth to Southampton Central. There was a bit of confusion on the way, as we had to catch a bus from Bournemouth to Southampton station due to engineering works, but we were told to stay on the train at Bournemouth. However a new conductor got on, and as we left Bournemouth he said the train was going directly to London Waterloo. Luckily, we were told we could get off at Totton and there would be a bus waiting to take us to Southampton Central station. we eventually arrived at Southampton central station at 13:20.
Having arrived in Southampton reasonably early, we went into the City Centre to grab a bite to eat. We found a Burger King which was full of home fans. I did feel a bit awkward going in, with a bunch of Saints fans with my County scarf on but they seemed good natured and wished us good luck for the season.

Just before 2pm we made our way to the stadium. it was about a 20 minute walk to the ground, and we didn't have to worry about navigation thanks to our local Saints guide.
My first glimpse of the stadium came as we walked through a tunnel that leads through to the ground, and what a sight it was. The stadium is stunning, and a lot bigger than what it looks on television. Away supporters are located in one corner of the Northam stand, with the noisier Saints fans in the other end of that stand. We were sat right at the back, so we had the best view. You get clear vision of the pitch, a good view of the big TV Screens which showed highlights of Saints last game (a 6-0 away win at Oldham!) and the managers interview. I personally am not a big fan of these new bowl style arenas but I'll make an exception for St Marys.
The game itself looked destined to be a hard fought contest between the two form sides in the League, Saints were 2nd in the table and Notts were on a good run of form which had seen them dump Sunderland out of the FA cup the previous week.

The first half was pretty cagey. Notts had the best chance midway through the half when Alan Gow's shot was knocked away for a corner by Saints keeper Kelvin Davis.  At half time, we only had to queue for around two minutes to get a cup of tea, although it wasn't the best brew I've ever tasted it must be said. Still, it was enough to warm me up for the 2nd half.
Now the one complaint I have about the whole day was the stewarding. Me and three other Notts fans started the 2nd half standing up, because we were right at the back, and I for one prefer standing up. But a steward came over and told us to sit down. Fine, thats all well and good, but why did they not make the home supporters standing in the other half of the Northam Stand, and in a section of the Itchen Stand sit down too?
The 2nd half was a bit more lively. Me, and indeed most of the stadium thought the hosts had taken the lead from a corner early in the 2nd half, but the linesman said that the ball didn't cross the line, and replays proved it to be the correct decision. Southampton barely threatened after that, and the game looked destined for a draw. For a side 2nd in the table, I have to say the saints fans were pretty quiet as well, and didn't really sing much. The full time whistle blew and we celebrated a cracking away point.
We met up with my Saints mate outside the ground and exchanged a polite handshake, and discussed the game, and other results as we walked back to Southampton Central station. The walkway/tunnel that leads to and from the ground was a bit packed but we got away easily and got back to the station after twenty minutes to catch a bus back to Bournemouth.
A fantastic day out, a magnificent stadium, and a cracking point on the road for the magpies. would like to return there again, hopefully in the Championship one day, although we might be thinking a bit far ahead there! Onwards and upwards for the Magpies

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