Friday, 28 October 2016

Southport F.C. - Haig Avenue

Southport F.C.
Southport F.C.
Haig Avenue Stadium
Haig Avenue

Ground Number: 31
Date: Saturday 22nd October 2016
Score: Southport F.C. 1-1 Sutton United F.C.
Competition: Vanarama National League Premier
Attendance: 864

So it was time to go more north than I have ever been before and the town in question is a small seaside resort in Merseyside called Southport. The most north that I have previously been was Wrexham which was my last away game with Sutton. No matter what the result is I am a Sutton fan and I will always follow my team up and down the country.
Since the fixtures were released Southport away has been a stand out fixture for me and my dad to go to because we really like going to seaside towns for away days because the last time we went to a seaside town for an away day was Margate when we won 4-0 last season and even though it was cold and wet we still had a great day. I think the reason why Southport stood out when the fixtures come out is because my dad has this week off work which meant we could do this game and York City away next Saturday as well.
So it was a couple of days before the long trip to Merseyside and I started to do some research into Southport and I started to look at some of their previous highlights from earlier in the season to see what kind of football they play and whilst looking at the history of Southport F.C. it looked like I had underestimated how big the club had been in the past.
Southport F.C. were founded in 1881 but when the club was founded over 130 years ago the club was founded as Southport Central F.C. The clubs nickname is `The Sandgrounders` but they have a few other nicknames such as `The Port` and `The Yellows`. The club play in the colours of yellow and black and they play their home games at the Merseyrail Community Stadium due to a sponsorship deal but the stadium is known to many fans at Haig Avenue and the stadium is located in the suburb of Blowick which is around a 20 minute walk away from Southport town centre. Haig Avenue has a strong capacity of 6,004 and there are 1,844 seats.
The club started to play their home games at the newly built Haig Avenue in the 1905/06 season but back then the stadium was known as Ash Lane. The club joined the football league in 1921 and lasted an amazing 57 years in the football league until 1978 when they were relegated down to the Conference. In the 2002/03 season Southport were relegated to the Northern Premier and in the 2004/05 season Southport were one of the founder members of the newly created Conference North. In the 2004/05 season they were the champions which is still strong in their history and the Conference North history as Southport were the leagues first ever champions.
The club re-joined the Conference Premier in the 2004/05 season and they were much in a relegation battle trying to survive and they managed to survive after not being relegated. The club remained in the Conference Premier for the 2005/06 season but they continued to play in the league for the 2006/07 season but in this same season they were relegated back down to the Conference North. The club battled for promotion in the Conference North for the 2007/08 and the 2008/09 season and in the 2009/10 season they were promoted back to the Conference Premier and since then they have remained in the top flight of non-league. Between 2006 and 2008 Southport turned into a full time side but in 2008 the club returned to being a part time team.
It was the day before the game and I had a very busy day as I had been at college between 9am and 4:30pm and I did not get home until 5:30pm and I had to go round the shop to get bread and milk and get my stuff ready as I am staying round my dads. I got my stuff ready and my dad came to pick me up at 7:30pm and I decided to have an early night as I had to be up at 5am tomorrow morning.
After a good nights sleep I woke up at 5am feeling very tired but it was match day so there was no reason to be tired so I got out of bed and got dressed. We left the house at 5:30am and drove to South Wimbledon and parked the car. We then walked to South Wimbledon tube station and I topped up my oyster card with £5 as I only had £1 left on it. We got on the tube which was fairly empty and we slowly made our way to Euston. We got off the underground and we arrived in Euston at 6:27am. We was both fairly hungry as we had not had any breakfast so we decided to go up the road to Kings Cross as there is a McDonald`s just outside the station so we walked 10 minutes up the road and got McDonald`s for breakfast. We then had around 40 minutes till our train was scheduled to leave Euston so we got back on the underground at Kings Cross and got on the Victoria Line for one stop back to Euston.
When we got back to Euston it was fairly busy and we still had around 30 minutes till our train was going to leave so we went in Smith's and looked at some magazines to waste a bit of time and I picked up an airline magazine but I did not buy it. At 7:48am my dad got a text from Virgin telling us what platform to go to for our train and we got on our train at 7:50am and found our reserved seats. The train left Euston at 8:07am. The journey to Liverpool Lime Street was quite long so I listened to music and charged my phone for the whole journey. We got into Liverpool at 10:30am and we walked over to Liverpool Central to get the train to Southport. The train arrived at 10:51am and we got to Southport at 11:43am. We was supposed to get another train to Meols Cop as it is nearer to the stadium but we decided not to as we wanted to have a look around Southport.
We walked through the high street then I got a text from my mate Johnnie saying that he was on the pier with Ryan so we decided to make the 10 minute walk to the end of the pier to meet them. Johnnie and Ryan both got a pie and then whilst walking back we all put money together and got some donuts which tasted really nice and I would definitely recommend going on the pier if you ever go to Southport.
We then started to walk to Haig Avenue as it was around 2 and a half hours till kick. After walking for around 25 minutes we finally made it to Haig Avenue and as there was 2 hours till kick off we decided to go a pub near the ground called the "Thatch and Thistle" and we played darts and pool whilst watching the AFC Bournemouth v Tottenham Hotspur game.
After playing a couple of games of darts and a game of pool it was nearly 2pm so we made the 5 minute walk back to Haig Avenue. The ground was very empty when we got there and there was not many people outside of the stadium either. We went in the designated turnstile as the game is segregated and then before I put up my flags I took some pictures of the stadium.
Haig Avenue is a fairly open ground that on one side has a tidy looking Grandstand. This covered all seated stand is of a fair size, housing around 1,840 supporters. The stand, which was opened in 1968, doesn’t run the full length of the pitch and straddles the half way line, with the spaces on either side, unused for spectators. It is not totally free of supporting pillars, with one large pillar, situated towards the middle. There are windshields to either side and a couple of odd looking floodlights on its roof.
The rest of the stadium is comprised of terrace, with only the Jack Carr terrace (named after a former Director of the Club) at one end being covered. This terrace, which is also known as the Scarisbrick End, is the home end and can house just over 900 fans. The roof has no supporting pillars to hinder the view, but only runs for around half the width of the playing area. Opposite is the Blowick End, a small open terrace which is allocated to away fans. On the remaining side of the ground is the Popular Side, another open terrace, which is unusual in the respect that it is comprised of four separate blocks. Between a couple of these blocks are floodlight pylons, as rather than traditionally having a floodlight pylon in each corner of the ground, they run down both sides. (Description of Haig Avenue is sourced from Football Ground Guide).
After taking some pictures of Haig Avenue I put up my two flags and the hardest one to put up was my 18ft x 9ft flag as it is very big and the wind kept taking it off the clips which meant I had to reposition it a couple of times. After putting up the flags there was around 25 minutes till kick off and the crowd started to build and the excitement inside my body increased heavily.
So it was time for kick off  and as soon as the players emerged from the tunnel the travelling 52 Sutton fans roared. The game kicked off and the Sutton loyal started chanting like we always do and this made the excitement in my body even higher than it had been all day. I then asked some of the Sutton fans for their score predictions for the game and most of them said a draw or a tight win like 1-0.
The Sutton fans continued to chant all through the first half but the team that were bottom of the table took the lead and Haig Avenue roared with excitement from the Southport fans and the Sutton fans made an immediate response and continued to chant until the half time whistle blew. Southport then had a chance to make it 2-0 and to put the game away but Sutton keeper Ross Worner saved the ball on the line and kept Southport at 1-0 for half time.
At half time I got a steak pie which was really bad if I am honest, the pastry was quite hard and the bottom of the pie was rock solid and I had to throw it in the bin so I would not suggest buying a steak pie if you go to Southport. Some of the other Sutton fans said their pies were okay but overall they are not very good. The gravy and bread and butter that comes with the pie on the other hand is really good.
The second half looked much better for Sutton as they seemed to be playing much better football and they seemed to be creating more chances then they did in the first half. Then Sutton were awarded a penalty and Nicky Bailey stepped up and the Southport keeper saved the shot and then within 2 minutes Sutton were awarded another penalty and this time Sutton captain Jamie Collins stepped up and he put the ball in the back of the net and made it 1-1.
Sutton then had some good chances to go 2-1 up throughout the remainder of the second half but it looked to be Southport`s day as they were creating so many chances I lost count and they were very unlucky not to win and in the last few seconds Sutton striker Chris Dickson had the chance to make it 2-1 but he was unable to find the goal and after a long game the full time whistle blew and we was happy with a point away from home.
Instead of walking 20 minutes back to Southport we decided to walk to Meols Cop which is a smaller but nearer station to the stadium and it was where we was going to get off on the way to Southport but we decided not to. We walked to the station which was only around a 5 minute walk and we had to wait around 15 minutes for our train to Southport. Whilst waiting for the train we had a chat with another Sutton fan which passed the time and we got on the train and after being on the train for around 3 to 4 minutes we was back in Southport.
We had to run to get the train to Liverpool as the train was due to leave and we managed to catch it and we had a 40 minute train journey back to Liverpool. When we got into Liverpool we looked for some places to have dinner as we had an hour till our train was due to leave so we decided to have KFC and then we walked to Liverpool Lime Street to catch our train.
When we got to Liverpool Lime Street there were many Liverpool fans in the station as Liverpool had a late kick off at home to West Bromwich Albion in which Liverpool won 2-1 and many Liverpool fans were heading back to London. Once we got on the train I put on my headphones and listened to music whilst my phone charged and around an hour into the journey I tried to get some rest and I ended up going to sleep for around an hour and I woke up when we was around 30 minutes from London.
We got off at Euston at 10:10pm and we got on the Northern Line on the London Underground to head back home. The journey back on the Underground felt very long as we were both very tired and just wanted to go to bed. We finally got back to South Wimbledon at 10:55pm and we was back at my dad`s house at 11:11pm. I went straight to sleep as I had been up for pretty much near 18 hours.
Stadium: 7/10
Bar: 6/10
Food and Drink: 6/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Friendliness: 9/10
Value For Money: 7/10
Overall Rating: 6.9/10

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