Swansea City AFC – Liberty Stadium

35Two positives came from my trip to Swansea; I witnessed the first goal scored by an English Premierleague team in Wales, and I was the last person to order a McDonalds Breakfast before the famous 10:30am change over time.

When the fixture list came out I was naturally drawn to Swansea v Bolton. A newly promoted team, and a brand new stadium for me to visit! I knew full well that Bolton would lose this match, so with that in mind I just concentrated on enjoying the trip.

Built in 2005 to replace Swansea’s former home Vetch Field, the Liberty Stadium holds 20,532 and is the second smallest stadium currently in The Premierleague. The stadium was originally called the ‘White Rock Stadium’ because it is built upon an old copper works.

As I’ve said, I had planned to go to the match and had already saved up. However, with Bolton announcing free coach travel to all supporters who went to the Wigan match it only cost me £17.50 for the whole day! Which saved me £25 in total! Thanks BWFC!

Some people were moaning at the quality of the transport, but as it was free… what do you expect? Personally, I didn’t have a problem with the coaches. Fitted with fake leather seats, a television from the 90’s, a crackling radio and booming speakers – It was an enjoyable experience.

Me and Danny set off from home at 07:15 and arrived at The Reebok with plenty of time to spare until the coach departed. I’m usually the first on the coach, which allows me to choose a suitable perch for my journey. Unfortunately, for this coach journey we ended up sitting behind two very undesirable males. One had a massive head and smelt of bodily fluids, the other? Well, he seemed to bullshit his way around The UK… more on him later.

The 13 coaches departed on time, well, apart from the odd one which had decided not to turn up. We made great progress and arrived at Strensham Services – Just North of Cheltenham – at 10:15.

Getting into the service station building was an adventure on its own. After driving around the block, and nearly ending up back on the motorway we took a shortcut through a petrol forecourt before the coach finally stopped. Queue a mass invasion of 800 Bolton fans upon an already stretched McDonald’s crew. The queue for McDonalds snaked around the service station. Oh, and to make things even more interesting – a gaggle of Huddersfield Town fans had just arrived with 5 coaches en route to Yeovil Town.

Luckily, having a brain and all, we saw this fiasco happening and we ran into the queue; ordering at McDonalds just before the 10:29 breakfast deadline.

Uproar! At 10:31 on the dot, the workforce refused to take any more breakfast orders. To make matters worse, they had run out sausage. Talking of sausages, we had a good old laugh at a Huddersfield fan who tried shoving a whole one in his mouth at once – resulting in him choking.

After laughing at the Yorkshiremen eating their English Breakfasts it was time to press on. Although, the coachdriver was a bit reluctant to let me back on the coach as I was wearing a Mario Balotelli tribute shirt – “WHY ALWAYS ME?”.

The Coachdriver decided to liven up the second part of the coach journey. What did he decide to do? Did he supply us all with alcohol? Did he do a bit of stand up? Had he purchased us all a pie? No. He put on an old cowboy movie… Full blast! So even if you were listening to your iPod you could still hear the occasional gunshot.

Arriving into Wales a small section of the coach decided to play ‘Pronounce that town name’. Penyclawdd and Michaelstone-Y-Fedw seemed to stretch us all a bit too far, and we soon gave up.

Mr. Bullshitter (The man in front of me) had by now grown in confidence. I had been following our progress on GoogleMaps, despite this he still thought he knew his way around Britain better than any form of technology. After trying to convince the whole coach that we were in Port Talbot I showed him quite clearly that we were just north of Cardiff. He only took this as a minor setback and carried out pontificating.

After recieving a police convoy we arrived at The Liberty Stadium with 2 hours to spare until kick off. We were greeted by a tall policeman who told us where Frankie & Bennies was, I then moaned to him about the weather. IT WAS FREEZING!

Situated on a retail park the stadium offers pre-match necessities such as KFC and B&Q. However to get to the shops, you have to cross a bridge… which sways in the wind! We decided to stay at Frankie & Bennies for a while, and after singing the English national anthem it was time to make a move.

We arrived at the turnstiles. Never before had I been frisked by a Welsh man… but there’s a first time for everything. I held my arms out, and I was stroked rather vigorously before the man then let out a loud ‘Whooooooo!’. Probably one of the strangest moments of my life to date.

Owen Coyle had been under a certain amount of pressure from sections of our support. Thankfully a group of our fans brought a banner showing ‘IN COYLE WE TRUST’… However, the support was short lived when we were told that we weren’t allowed to have any banners up. My initial thought was; “Why did the strange man on the turnstiles not confiscate it?”. Then I realised that he would have been too busy stroking them to realise.

The stadium was beginning to fill up, and somehow we were getting wet! We were sat in the second tier of a Premierleague Stadium, and we were getting wet! Unacceptable in my opinion. Our dampened spirits were only shortlived though as we then found out the team news. Well, we found it a bit hard to understand the announcer to be honest… but we managed between us.

After hanging up all of our English flags, it was ready for the teams to come out.

The Bolton fans were given the upper tier of the North Stand, and we filled it. Which made me feel quite proud for some reason. The view was one of the best I have witnessed in a football stadium, I was speechless. The only thing I could fault was the fact that we were all made to sit down throughout the match.

Bolton started off the match impressively, and were knocking it around in true Owen Coyle fashion. David Ngog had the first opportunity of the match after he cracked a shot from outside the area. However, Swanseas’ in form keeper Michel Vorm was equal to it.

Swansea reminded me of the famous Blackpool side which brought so much excitement to the Premier League with fast flowing football, a wide range of passing and an ‘in your face’ approach. The one difference between Swansea and Blackpool though is that Swansea also have the ability to defend, which makes them a far more dangerous opposition.

After a fairly un-eventful first half I went down to the concourse.

They had many overpriced savouries, and we were kindly reminded that all prices were in sterling. Maybe this was because many Bolton fans had of course visited their local bureau de change in anticipation for their Welsh trip?

“I’ll have £20 worth of Euros please, I’m off to Swansea at the weekend.”

Unfortunately they had run out of pies, so I had to keep my euros for my next trip to Spain. Whilst I was in the food queue I had a quick catch up with Fat Frank, who had had one too many as usual.

In the first half Mark Clattenburg had had an awful game, giving some shocking decisions against both teams. Eventually the Bolton fans broke out in a chorus of ♫ Clattenburg’s a w####r ♫ – Which at the time seemed funny… until the second half began and he got his revenge.

Bolton were holding on, albeit playing very defensively. However, the defensive strategy was dealt a huge blow when Ricardo Gardner was harshly sent off for his second bookable offence.

The sending off changed the match, and within seconds Bolton found themselves behind. Mark Gower hit the free-kick into the area, Allen controlled the ball and ran through the usual gaping hole in Boltons defence before slotting it past Jussi Jaaskelainen’s near post. 1-0.

Scott Sinclair then extended their lead with a penalty just eight minutes later, which triggered an angry response from the Bolton faithful.

More Swansea pressure ensued resulting in Danny Graham hitting the crossbar before then scoring a cracking own goal, slicing an inswinging left-wing cross from Chris Eagles.

That goal meant that Bolton Wanderers now hold the proud record of being ‘The first English team to score a Premier League goal in Wales’.

Graham scored again in the final minute to kill off Bolton, and send us home feeling pretty downbeat. Swansea’s record-signing kept his composure when put through one-on-one by Leon Britton’s pass to beat Jaaskelainen.

Only 3 of the Bolton squad bothered to come and clap the away support. Yes large sections of us were throwing abuse, but that does not excuse ignoring your own fans. At the end of the day, we pay your wages.

Exiting the ground, everybody was miserable. UNTIL that is, we stepped back on to our coach. The driver had 5 Live on, and there was news coming through of “DRAMATIC SCENES AT CARROW ROAD!” – We then all clicked that this was Blackburns’ match. It was Norwich 2-3 Blackburn, and Norwich had a penalty in the last minute.

Grant Holt stepped up, and slotted it past Paul Robinson to give us Bolton fans something to cheer about.

The most enjoyable experience of the day came when listening to BBC5Live and Stuart Hall was interviewing Wigan chairman Dave Whelan. All of a sudden they launched into a rendition of “If You Were The Only Girl In The World And I Was The Only Boy.” It was hilarious, and everybody on the coach was speechless.

It was a long way back home after that performance, so I decided to shove my iPod in and close my eyes. We arrived back at The Reebok Stadium at around 21:30 – JUST IN TIME TO WATCH THE WHOLE THING AGAIN ON MATCH OF THE DAY!

  • DISTANCE TRAVELLED TO GROUND: 238 miles
  • ADMISSION: £15 as a junior
  • PROGRAMME PRICE: £3

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Liberty Stadium – Swansea City
Me outside the Liberty Stadium – Swansea City
Danny outside the Liberty Stadium – Swansea City
West Stand – Liberty Stadium – Swansea City
View of the Liberty Stadium off the bridge – Swansea City
Guess which Welsh name has sold out?
Danny, Me, Chris and Mikey outside the Liberty Stadium – Swansea City
View from the top of the away end – Liberty Stadium – Swansea City
West Stand – Liberty Stadium – Swansea City
East Stand – Liberty Stadium – Swansea City
North Stand (Away) – Liberty Stadium – Swansea City
The teams coming out
Bolton fans at half time
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