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Stadium Of Light
Sunderland v Crystal Palace
Championship League

Tuesday, January 30th 2007, 7.45pm
Mike Davis
(Crystal Palace fan)

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

I had heard about the facilities etc., of the Stadium of Light from a Sunderland fan I work with. I was looking forward to going there, knowing the fair minded Sunderland people (also ex-girlfriend from the 70s came from Sunderland!!)

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

Took me 3 hrs from Liverpool travelling via Kendall (to travel with two other Palace fans) by car. We used the Park & Ride scheme - excellent getting into the ground - frustrating wait getting away after the game... got back to the car about an hour after the end of the match. Glad it wasn't raining!

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

We went straight into the ground as it was close to kick off on arrival. Local fans were on the whole friendly.

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

Very impressed by the scale and size of the stadium. Felt the PA system was a bit OTT. I know my hearing isn't as good as it was but the  volume of the PA was far too high. Made it uncomfortable to listen to.

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

Game itself wasn't anything to write home about. I was disappointed by the lack of singing from the 26,000+ Black Cat fans. There were only 150 or so Eagles fans present yet even their local radio that night it was admitted we were out singing them at times. Tea and steak pie excellent. Stewarding was one of the worse that I have encountered. Within 5 minutes or so of the game starting one steward was nose to nose with one of our fans. He was taken off the stand and returned 10 minutes later after a "lecture". Completely unnecessary at that point in the game. At the beginning of the 2nd half one young Eagles supporter (14/15 yrs old?) was removed by the stewards. There were several incidents - stewards should go on a crowd management course! Later, during the 2nd half the stewards were withdrawn. Much better atmosphere when they left. Also, when leaving, a couple of young Sunderland fans were giving us a bit of lip, but nothing worse than I've received at other grounds. They were standing (cowering?) behind a Police horse. Police rider backed the horse into them and growled, "Go home!" at them. Again, I felt this was OTT.

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

As already commented we waited a long time for the Park & Ride buses - very popular service with the locals.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

On the whole a good night out - we got a point (0-0 draw) and most of the Sunderland fans were like our own - out for a good time. Did feel crowd control was  heavy handed (have since read the review of the ground which warns of this aspect) by both local Police and stewards. Proud to have supported the Eagles on a night when support from London was inevitably sparse.

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