Prenton Park - Tranmere Rovers
Saturday 15th April 2006
V Nottingham Forest, League One 3pm
By Tony Ogle
As a lifelong Forest fan who saw all the glory years under Clough and Taylor, the recent history has been up and down with this season currently seeing us at our lowest ebb.
However, the recent upturn in fortunes under 'Charlie and Frank' since the departure of Megson saw us travel to Tranmere (myself, brother in law and 16 year on son) with renewed optimism that the play offs could still be reached. With Forest once again selling all their allocation of tickets we were assured of another good atmosphere and passing all the travelling trickies on the motorway network reminded us of how it used to be.
We decided to follow the advice from your website and took the 'alternative' route to the ground leaving the M53 at junction 3 as against Jct 4 which the majority of the supporters were taking. This proved to be a wise choice as traffic was light, and on leaving the motorway, again took advice from the website and pulled in at 'The Swan' for a drink on what was turning out to be a lovely sunny day. Unfortunately this proved not to be a wise move as we were refused entry due to my lad only being 16. We were even refused entry to the large beer garden for the same reason which seems a bit crazy in this day and age especially as the pub is a fair walk from the ground. (we go to most away games and this is the first time he has not been allowed in a pub)
Undeterred we decided to leave the car in the car park and walked towards the ground where we came upon the Half Way House which had no problem with allowing in children. There were a couple of Forest fans in there and we then met up with a few others who we had arranged to meet up with. Whilst the pub was by no means packed there were a few home supporters in who were pretty friendly and the pub was well equipped with sports screens and had plenty of bar staff on, making for a pleasant experience rather than the usual crush you experience. It was also very cheap both for food and beer and so a good couple of hours were spent prior to setting off for the ground which was about a 5 - 10 minute walk away.
As we approached the ground there was a heavy police presence but absolutely no sign of trouble. The stewards outside the turnstiles were very friendly and we entered the ground quickly and efficiently. The away end was already packed as we got in but we were shown our seats with the minimum of fuss and settled down to enjoy the game. The stewards were then conspicuous by their absence as they allowed us to stand as we joined in song to get behind the reds. An early goal settled the nerves and the home fans were then treated to the full repertoire of the Forest songbook including one or two of the humourous variety aimed at our hosts.
At half time a few 'lads' drifted down towards the away support but were soon sent back to their seats by the stewards although in fairness I don't think it was anything nasty, I just think a bit of baiting was the aim. The concourse underneath was spacious and the amenities were far from the worst we have encountered. Again the police and stewards kept a low profile and the only disappointment was the lack of info on other games going on around the country, especially considering the position we were in.
The second half saw Forest somewhat hanging on and so it was with some relief when the final whistle blew bringing Forest a 1-0 victory. With other results going our way it was a happy visiting support that flooded out of the ground. The coaches had all been brought right outside the ground but even so both sets of supporters mingled happily with no hint of trouble. A 20 min walk saw us back to the car and we were back on the motorway 2 mins later and on our way home. We missed most of all the other traffic and were back in Nottingham by 7 pm a good hour quicker than we anticipated and so had to call in the local for a couple as it wouldn't pay to be back home too early (Can't afford to set a precedence)
All in all a good day without a hint of trouble. Routes into and out of the ground were relatively traffic free and the quality of the stewards and policing were as good as any I have seen for a long time. A day out I would certainly recommend and well done to Tranmere for the way they treat away fans
Tony, Squeak, Jonno
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