Liberty Stadium - Swansea City
V Doncaster Rovers, League One
August 20th 2005, 3pm
By Mike Rhodes
I am a Preston North End supporter and
besides visiting different grounds to watch PNE I also visit new grounds as
they open. My current tally of English league
grounds is 133, having started in 1970. I now have just one to go (again),
that being Coventry City's new stadium which I will visit in April when
North End travel there.
So to my visit to Swansea. Myself and a friend of mine left Preston at 6.0am and travelled down the M6/M5/M50/A40/A449 to Newport in just 3 hours. We decided to park the car in Newport and travel by train to Swansea. It had only been 10 weeks or so since I had done exactly the same trip to the Millennium Stadium to see North End go down 1-0 to West Ham in the Championship Play-Off final. There is a frequent train service from Newport to Swansea and the journey takes approx. 70 minutes. Leaving Newport at 10.30am we arrived in Swansea around a quarter to 12. As you approach Swansea the ground appears prominently on the left hand side of the railway line. It is a 2 mile walk from Swansea station to the ground but a fairly straight route can be taken. For those who don't want to walk there are some 5 bus routes which pass close by to the ground. I could not comment on car parking arrangements. Although there are parking areas around the ground I suspect these are for contract holders.
We purchased our tickets for the East Stand at £15 and retreated to a nearby KFC for a bite to eat. As is usual with new stadia there is also a new retail park close by. Swansea's opponents for the fixture were Doncaster Rovers and there were quite a number of Rovers supporters proudly sporting their colours milling around the ground. We took our seats about 40 minutes before kick-off. These were quite low down and roughly inline with the goal line at the home end. The away supporters were housed in the upper tier of the North stand to our right. The ground is fully enclosed and has 2 tiers running right the way round. The home supporters create quite an atmosphere although on this occasion they were to be disappointed as the away team ran out 2-1 winners. Although the ground is light an airy and the leg room is excellent it has no distinguishing features. My only criticism is the poorly designed circulation area under the stand. Although the ground was only half full there was severe congestion at the bottom of the steps leading down to this area owing to the fact that they protrude into the circulation area thereby creating pinch points.
All in all the experience of the visit was enjoyable, helped by the warm sunny weather. However it does not live up to a visit to Pride Park, the Walker Stadium or the KC Stadium etc. A brisk walk back to the station afterwards enabled us to catch the 5.30pm train back to Newport. Arrival back in Preston was shortly after 10.0pm, having enjoyed a trouble free trip on the motorways. If you are driving all the way to Swansea the M4 encircles the north of the city and there is more than one junction you can leave to approach the ground. Marks out of 10? Seven.
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