Bescot Stadium - Walsall
Saturday 12 February 2011
V Bournemouth, League One 3pm

By Tino Hernandez

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

Another ground I had somehow never been to, together with the fact that Bournemouth were pressing for a second consecutive promotion and Walsall were fighting to stay up.

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

I caught a late morning train from London Euston to Birmingham and then a brilliantly simple change onto a train that takes you to a station (Bescot) which is literally over the road from the ground. If you are a London based and train travelling football fan and think, like me, that Walsall is quite a way away, think again, train is super quick.

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

You can’t have everything. The train journey was incredibly easy which in my book is always a huge plus but it has to be one of the worse grounds to find any food at all outside, although you were welcome in the supporters club. Other reports said there was ‘half a shopping centre’ close by but I couldn’t see it. Home fans friendly enough. Take out local rivalries and the odd historical reason for a rivalry and my experience at this level is that we all just love football and respect fellow loyal supporters whoever they support.

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

The Banks Stadium is now 20 years old and starting to show its age in my view. Looks a bit ramshackle.  

Ticketing was confusing. Signs on the gates imply you need to have bought tickets to get in and this was confirmed by the programme seller. However, lots of Bournemouth fans were then walking around to the ticket office only to be told – no, you pay on the gate. Other fans said the ticket office staff were not sure and had to check first. Later a few young Bournemouth fans were sold tickets from the office. But the true situation was to pay on the gate.  

Is it me or is the pitch pretty small too? We were being the goal and very close to the pitch which makes it very exciting when your team is pressing to score and extremely nerve wracking when your keeper is under a lot of pressure.

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

Ground is pretty compact making for a good atmosphere though the attendance wasn’t great. Stewards were perfect – hardly noticed them. 

Blimey, we could have been 2-4 down at half time, plus we had the embarrassment of wildly celebrating a disallowed goal. Walsall didn’t look like at team at the bottom of the League One. Second half we got the breakthrough goal and had four or five very good other chances but at 1-0 there is always a danger they might nick something which made for an exciting game as our strikers kept squndering chances. An injury time Walsall free kick hammered against the post and bounced down onto the goal line so it could have ended in tears.  

Chicken Balti pie was great. Coffee fine. Big downside though is the catering is dispensed through two small hatches. Fine when getting into the ground early but ridiculous if you want something at half time.

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

On a train within 5 mins of leaving the ground and then caught a connection at Birmingham straight away. Oddly enough I was home quicker than for a Bournemouth home match.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out: 

Well worth a visit and would go back. Transport for the non driving fan coming from London superb. But I’ll take food next time. 


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