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Fan Nick Judd doesn't look forward to many away days in League One... for all manner of reasons
As breaking news goes, telling you the County Ground isn’t the best ground in the world is right up there with ‘smoking kills.’
Yet as Robin Williams once said, ‘it’s the imperfections that make something perfect’; where else would you find multicoloured seats, six roundabouts in one and a roofless away end?
Talking of not having a roof, the Withdean is one of the more enjoyable away days we’ll experience this year. It’s certainly better than our forthcoming trip to Hartlepool on a Friday night.
We go to Brighton in April but you won’t find us lubing up (not like that) and hitting the beach pre-match. It’s full of stones, for a start – those ones that get between your toes – and it’s impossible not to feel haunted by our painful penalty play-off defeat of 2004.
Rory Fallon nudged us ahead in extra time and for 13 minutes – soon to be unlucky for us – we were in the final. Brighton equalised. Then won on penalties. Good job the pitch is seven miles from the stand; we couldn’t hear what the baying Brighton faithful were singing (though I doubt it was ‘have a safe journey home, come again’).
I wonder what opposing fans think of coming to our place? Do you dread travelling to Swindon like we do Cheltenham or Milton Keynes? Visiting Whaddon Road is as much fun as having a verucca frozen off.
Granted, it’s not far – we can be home in time for You’ve Been Framed – but we never win there. You’ll notice that before midweek they’d only got three points this season… yep, you’ve guessed it.
Even our own players turn on us there. Andy Gurney flicked us the V in 2002 shortly after the mild-tempered Sam Parkin had seen red, while JP McGovern lost his rag a couple of weeks ago. Cheltenham hate us, too; they’re as welcoming as a Big Brother eviction crowd.
At least we won at MK Franchise, a gift so satisfying Santa Claus would be hard pressed to do better. Theirs is a plastic, soulless place only better than Reading’s ‘Mad Stad’. Then there’s Carlisle. At last count Brunton Park was 9,756 miles away. We could probably build a new stand in the time it takes to drive up to Cumbria.
How about Leeds? Dennis Wise leaving took the fun out of that one, while our previous visit saw stopper Paul Robinson score with an injury-time header. Leyton Orient? Hideous to get to. Millwall?
Come to think of it, maybe Hartlepool’s not that bad after all…
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Just want to point out
"Good job the pitch is seven miles from the stand; we couldn’t hear what the baying Brighton faithful were singing"
The game in question, the playoff semi final the away stand at the Withdean was actually what is now our Family stand, which is close to the pitch and just behind the goal the penalties were taken in.
I can only assume you were not at the game to make such a comment.
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