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Liberty Stadium
Swansea City v
Walsall
League One
Saturday, March 12th 2006, 3pm

Mike Churchill
(Walsall fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be)
 
Obviously as a new ground (and after the unique experience of the Vetch Field!), The Liberty Stadium was a 'must' attend this season. Also, it was the first opportunity I had had to see Walsall under their new manager Kevan Broadhurst, so I was looking forwards to seeing some decent football from a Walsall side for once!

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking
 
The journey was straightforward - all motorway and a-roads from the West Midlands, and the ground is about a mile off the main Swansea junction of the M4. Car parking was a pain, and fairly pricy. I paid 5 to park next door to Rossi's the Chip Shop. No away parking on the stadium car park, but the coaches were parked 20 yards from the gates, and were well secured - which I imagine may become an issue come next season's possible visit of Cardiff.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?
 
I went to Rossi's Chip Shop which is across the main road from the ground. Superb value for money, a big tray of chips and a coffee came to a little over 2, and they were very friendly. The home fans I chatted to were nice enough, though they all seemed more disappointed with Paul Merson's sacking than their poor run of form!
 
I didn't have enough time for a pub, but I'm reliably informed that the City Centre is a great place to drink, and is about 20 minutes walk from the ground.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground.
 
First impressions of the ground from the outside were very impressive. Very much alike The KC stadium in my opinion, which is a good thing. The concourse was well laid out, with beer available, though it was warm, not on tap, and overpriced - 3 a pint.
 
First impressions of the interior of the ground, though, was a massive let down. Whether the dull Sunday afternoon weather didn't flatter the ground or not, I'm not sure - but the black seats looked dull, and the concrete had lost its "new" look. However, as the ground gets older, and gets its own character, this will no doubt improve.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..
 
The game was played in the right spirit, and coming a day after the Welsh Rugby Team drew at home with the Italian's (and taking place at the same time as England's humiliation in Paris), there was some good banter. I was very impressed with the acoustics from the away end, where a small following made a bit of a noise. The most vocal of home fans are situated to the left of the away fans, which again made for a decent atmosphere.

The game ended in a 1-1 draw, after Walsall took an early lead, requiring a last minute equaliser from Swansea. In hindsight, had Walsall picked up a win here, the season may well have taken a different path.
 
The stewards were friendly, and dealt with any problems that arose. A few Walsall fans were a bit worse for wear, but instead of being heavy handed, the stewards had a quiet word and defused the situation.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game
 
One of the easiest get-a-ways from a football ground. A 5 minute drive towards Port Talbot and back onto the M4. A really well situated Football Ground - close to the town, but close to the motorway system.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
 
I hadn't been to Swansea since a particularly abject 3-1 away defeat in December 2000. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The regeneration of the town has been completed to a really high standard, plenty of bars in the centre and pubs near to the ground. It's a shame that I won't be able to return next season, as the questionable delights of basement football await.
 


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