Swansea City
The Liberty Stadium

Ground No. 143
Visited - Saturday 15th December 2007
Result - Swansea City 3-0 Southend United
Competition - Coca-Cola League One
Attendance - 12,629

Having visited the Vetch Field and absolutely fallen in love with the character of the place, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to going back to Swansea to see their replacement ground, the Liberty Stadium. With its bowl design, it promised to be just another soulless new ground, but as part of the 92, it needed doing, and the best date possible was for their game against Southend.

Starting off early, the journey down to South Wales was a long one, changing trains in Shrewsbury and Cardiff, but we arrived there eventually, and I decided to head off back to the Vetch Field to see what remains of the old ground. Still standing, and virtually untouched since the day I visited back in April 2005, in one way it was a sad state to see the ground in, but in another way it was good to see that it was still standing and left vandal free, unlike how Boothferry Park and Feethams ended up since the clubs left them. What will happen to the place still remains to be seen, although no doubt houses will be built sooner rather than later.          

Having seen that, I headed back into town for a bit, to grab some food and drink before it was time to walk up to the new ground. Coming into Swansea on the train, the viaduct passes right next to the ground and gives you a fantastic elevated view of it, so I already had a good idea what was in store, but once there, it seemed better from ground level. The West Stand looks fairly impressive with its cladding, although the other three sides were more basic with little detail and looking virtually exactly the same as at Leicester, Darlington, Southampton, etc. with little of note to speak about. The other main feature at the ground is the Ivor Allchurch statue which sits behind the home end, paying tribute to the Swansea legend.

Having taken a few pics, I eventually went in, deciding to sit in the away end with the Southend fans, knowing that that end would be fairly empty and not great to look at from the other sides of the ground. Inside, the ground is the same on all four sides, with two tiers of seats separated by a walkway that runs around the circumference. Other than the seat design, which was fairly attractive with a wave pattern at the opposite end, there wasn’t really much you can say about the ground really. It isn’t quite as bland or boring as a lot of the new grounds, but there is no focal point, or anything that stands out really and as expected, it’s all very neat and tidy and the complete opposite of what the Vetch Field was. The roof was fairly interesting, sloping upwards at a noticeable angle, and it was almost strange (although by no means bad), to see that there were no clear Perspex panels between it and the back row of seats, making the ground slightly gloomier than others (not a bad thing at all, I hate the light and airy feel of the Walkers Stadium).

With Southend sitting in the play-offs, and Swansea top of the league, the game should have been quite a good one, but once underway, it was clear that Swansea were going to dominate the match. They took the lead in the 18th minute when Warren Feeney headed home a cross from the right, although just a few minutes later he was to be stretchered off after a fairly innocuous tackle from a Southend defender, but the visitors were soon cursing their own luck when they were reduced to 10 men in the 35th minute with Nicky Bailey receiving a second yellow card about 60 seconds after receiving his first. It was a harsh decision from the referee, and one that perhaps with a bit of common sense could have been avoided.

After that, it was all Swansea, with the hosts getting their second after the break when Angel Rangel (great name!) poked home from inside the penalty box. Thomas Butler wrapped it up in the closing stages with a header to make it 3-0, although not before Andy Robinson had missed a penalty for the home side, forcing a good save from Southend ‘keeper Steven Collis.

Throughout the game, there had been a fairly decent atmosphere created by the home fans to our left, but a note must be made about some of the Swansea stewards who seemed intent on causing trouble throughout the game. Whilst some in the concourse had been quite friendly before the match, some of their colleagues seemed a particularly authoritarian bunch, the sort that probably failed the police exams and get excited by the prospect of wearing a fluorescent jacket and lauding it over visiting supporters every other weekend. Certainly one to watch out for if you have the misfortune to breath whilst in their vicinity.

Anyway, despite that it hadn’t been too bad a day, and after grabbing a quick pint on the way back to the station, I eventually made my way home, getting in for about 10:30pm.

Overall, whilst the ground doesn’t have the character or location of Vetch Field, it is better than a lot of the newer grounds popping up around the country, so not too bad a place to visit.

View from the train 

Rear of the West Stand

Rear of the West Stand

The Club Shop

Rear of the South Stand

Rear of the East Stand

Rear of the North Stand

The Ivor Allchurch Statue

The Ticket Office

The West Stand

The South Stand

The East Stand

The East Stand

The South Stand

The West Stand

Liberty Stadium Panoramic 1

Liberty Stadium Panoramic 2

Liberty Stadium Panoramic 3
04.10.08 vs Wolverhampton Wanderers

1 comment:

  1. It is the first time that I see a stadium with the statue in the front of it. Remarkable players should have that kind of statues all over the world. I bet that pay per head services community has some ideas for some stadiums.