Thursday, 2 January 2014

Cherry Chimes' away day at the Amex

Like some of AFCB's players, the game against Brighton on New Year's Day was always going to be a highlight for the Bell family. Living in Redhill, Surrey, the match at the Amex was just a 45 minute drive away compared to the usual two hour trip down to Bournemouth's home games, so as our first visit to Brighton's new stadium we were very excited. However, we had not expected the inclement weather which added another dimension to the day, which was not entirely desired. 

The drive down the A23 was quick and met with few difficulties apart from some road works. Outside it was belting down with rain and when we arrived at the Park and Drive area in Mill Lane nobody was too keen to venture outside the warmth and comfort of the car. We had left Redhill just after 11.00am and had got down to Brighton around midday so had loads of time before kick off. That is if there would be a kick-off as listening to the radio we had already heard that the Watford v Yeovil game had already been called off as well as some non- league games and things were not looking that clever on the south coast with strong gusts and driving rain.
Early arrivals at Mill Lane, Brighton
The parking assistant did not look like she was enjoying her job much when we arrived. We were only the fourth car at Mill Lane and it was going to be a long day for her. She reassured us that the match would be going ahead and we stepped on to the coach not really knowing what facilities we would get to enjoy when we reached the Amex as a purpose built stadium. The journey took some 15 minutes and we had a mixture of Bournemouth and Brighton fans on a half full coach. Robert and Stephen wasted no time in talking to the opposition fans and telling them that they were in for a real treat today, because the best team on the south coast led by Eddie Howe would soon be gracing their stadium. They can never resist a bit of banter!
Stephen and Robert on the bus to the Amex.
After the coach driver was told that he should be going to another entrance by an over enthusiastic steward at the Amex, the coach driver won him over by explaining that we were an official park and ride coach that had to come in this main entrance. Robert, Stephen and I would have happily stayed on the bus a bit longer. The rain had worsened and was creating giant swimming pools on the tarmac, while the wind was gusting the water right into your face - lovely! 
Robert is first to get off the coach.

Are you sure this game is on?
Stephen briefly comes out of the shelter of teh stadium walls.
We headed straight for the protection of the walls of the stadium and gradually worked our way around to the club shop which was at least warm and dry. Having assessed every possible Seagull ornament and shirt and having monitored Sky Sports News, albeit with no sound, we tried to get into the bar next door, but were ushered away because of the boys failure to meet the 18 year old age requirements for entry. Luckily at 1.00pm we could get into the stands and the first need was to buy some hot food and a drink. We went for the £7 meal deals and I sunk my teeth into one of the stake and ale pies which I gave top marks to. The Ringwood ale was on tap and the red lighting made us feel at home as more and more cherry supporters steadily flooded in, literally soaked. 

Come and join us at the red end!
It was only then that I questioned where exactly we would be sitting. The Amex's roof did not extend all the way down to the front seats if you were in rows A to H. Could you believe it we were in row I, just in the covered zone as long as the wind did not push the rain sideways. 

As the game approached I got chatting with those around us and I started snapping away on the camera as the players warmed up. I had a feeling that Bournemouth could get a victory on the day even if Brighton were going to be a difficult team to beat. Everything was going well when we had the early penalty and I started to pray to the football Gods that Lewis Grabban could put away the spot kick. Indeed, he did and we were on our way!

Great weather at the Amex.
Rantie finds a big coat to wear at half time.
It was clear that our back four and keeper were going to have one of their busiest games of the season, but as Lee Camp was in electric form we hoped we could hold out. In the back of our mind though there was a nagging doubt and sure enough Brighton's pressure eventually got them an equaliser when the three points had been so desperately close, just like the Burnley away match. It was an action packed game and I am still trying to work out how our goal managed to stay in tact for so long - well done Lee Camp, what a masterclass! I still felt it was a point gained, but thoughts then turned back to the weather and the sudden realisation that much of the 28,000 or so crowd wanted a place on one of those park and ride buses. The race was on and we were at the back of the queue!

All over at the at a soaked Amex stadium.
It was about an hour after the game that we finally arrived back at Mill Lane to pick up the car. It had been a good day and another point on the road. Yet, after driving home I knew we would arrive at about the same time as if we had been at a game down in Bournemouth. So perhaps getting out of Dean Court is not as bad as we all like to think. That's where we will be in a few days time when Watford come visiting. 

Sadly, Cherry Chimes is missing the FA Cup tie against Burton but we trust that BBC Radio Solent will keep us informed of the commentary over the airwaves. 

1 comment:

  1. Brighton shots on target 20. B'mouth shots on target 1 (2 off target). Brighton hit the woodwork 5 times in all. Disgraceful penalty decision. Eddy Howe yet again manages to step in something. One sided game. Happy New Year.