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Roots Hall
  Southend United v
League Two
Saturday November 24th 2012, 3pm

Nigel Watson
(Rochdale fan)

My son and I decided to make the trip to Southend to watch Rochdale. I'd never been to Roots Hall before, so I was curious. We went by car, and arrived in Southend about 50 minutes before kick-off. Roots Hall is located in a residential area. We thought that it would be easy to park in one of the back streets, but it was really difficult to find a space. After about 20 minutes we got lucky, then walked to the ground, which took another 20 minutes, arriving just before kick-off.

It was reasonably cheap to get in; less than 25 for both of us. However, when we got inside the ground we realised why the ticket prices were so low. Roots Hall is all-seater. However, the seats in the North Bank were just bolted on to an old, gently sloping, terrace. There were two problems: zero leg room and a poor view. The gently sloping terrace means that you can't see properly if somebody sits in front of you - even somebody 5ft 2"would block your view. There are also pillars supporting the roof of the North Bank that can block your view too.

Southend have a policy of allowing home and away supporters to share the North Bank. The Southend fans love the North Bank because it has a great echo. Unfortunately, the segregation on this visit was inadequate. There was less than 10m between the two sets of fans, the only separation being a piece of fabric draped down a set of seats and an handful of nightclub bouncers - I mean stewards. A hardcore of 50 or so Southend Fans spent most of the game watching, and shouting at, the Rochdale fans, creating an intimidating atmosphere. My son, who is eight didn't like it.

In the second half things escalated. After Southend scored their second goal to take the lead, the segregation between the two groups of fans almost broke down. I saw the stewards roughly man-handling a Rochdale fan from his seat. I don't know what this guy had done. Apparently, a number of complaints were made about the stewarding.

The upshot is that Southend United is a relatively cheap place to watch football. Parking near the ground is very difficult. And finally, I think that it's fair to say that the club isn't family friendly. They need to get the segregation sorted out in the North Bank as soon as possible, other wise something worse could happen in the future. At the moment, I would not advise taking a child to watch a game there.

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