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Liberty Stadium
Swansea City v
Southend United
League One
April 29th 2006, 3pm

S Smale
(Southend United fan)

Me and a number of friends were travelling to the Liberty Stadium on the penultimate day of the season as Southend United fans, all ready to celebrate promotion after several failed attempts!

Needless to say, we were all looking forward to the game immensely as there was the promise of a near full house, and definitely the largest crowd to watch a football game at the Liberty Stadium.

I joined the car journey at Bristol and we made our way across the bridge and into Wales making our way to Swansea in quite good time.  We parked at the stadium park and ride which cost 5 per car, so probably best to travel with a car full!  Getting one off the buses to the stadium we were dropped off over the road from the ground opposite the Rossi's chippy.

Having visited the Vetch last year and being pretty intimidated outside the ground we decided to go into the stadium there and then.  The stewards were really friendly and were extremely helpful when we arrived and continued this all day.

The ground is probably one of the best I have ever visited, a totally enclosed bowl very modern looking with fantastic facilities. When the stands filled it was a sight to behold and the noise generated was so impressive I doubt that they would have been too upset about leaving the intimate surroundings of the Vetch and the fans were able to create a rather hostile atmosphere which must make it very difficult to come and
play in.

The game was a very exciting 2-2 draw and, with other results going our way, meant that we were promoted for the second year in a row.  Freddy Eastwood scored both our goals, the second a finish worth of the ground, top quality.  The atmosphere during the match was absolutely electric, I have never experienced a game like it, a full house helped, but both sets of fans were singing their hearts out, as you would expect from Swansea.

The Swansea fans were a real credit to themselves and didn't live up to any reputations that had preceded our trip, they were very vocal and just added  to the fantastic atmosphere. After the game a number of them stayed to clap our promotion celebrations (and their own teams lap of honour, which probably contributed to them staying!).

After the game, it did take rather a long time to get a bus back to the  park and ride, and they probably could have thought about this and got some other coaches in) although we didn't worry about staying and partying for a while and there were nearly 2,000 Southend fans in attendance!  There was a massive number of police in attendance and this kept the two fans separated after the game although there didn't seem to be any real violence brewing. Regardless of this, the police were taking no chances and were keeping the fans apart, a good thing for matches where things might not be quite so friendly.

Overall, I was very impressed by Swansea and I have to say that it was probably the best organised day out that I have ever been to, thanks to probably the best stewards I have ever experienced and the general running of the day as an event was just superb.  I will very much be hoping that we can see Swansea in the Championship next season and I will advise fans to visit so as to experience this for themselves.


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