7.34pm. Basingstoke. Something For Kate ‘Back to you’
Pulled myself out of bed at 6am after only a few hours sleep. Probably could have just gone back to bed but a great opportunity to check out Southampton’s St Mary’s stadium.
I got the Piccadilly line tube to Kings Cross at 7am and then down to Victoria station and then walked to the coach station. I used to do this trip many times from the area I used to teach in out in Suffolk trekking all across the UK for my previous business, Brisbane Sounds, sport and gigs so know it well and bright back many good memories.
Got the coach to Southampton and by 1030am I was off the coach and walking (in the wrong direction) to the stadium. I found both here and in Birmingham that stadium information is quite poor. There might be some small signs here and there but most have been defaced or are not even on those ‘you are here’ information boards. Sure I have an iPhone with maps and I looked up the stadium guides beforehand but when you get into a city for the first time you just want to know which way to go. Perhaps Southampton FC could put a sign up in the coach station for instance.
This is one of the things that we do so well in Australia. Transport, stadium accessibility and match day information for residents and out of town supporters is always clear, but these clubs are 100+ years old so you have to give them some slack as the first time visitors to the stadium must account for 0.001% of crowd figures.
It was a beautiful day in Southampton and great to be back in this nice city. The last time I was here in 2011 I saw John Butler Trio with a mate and we stupidly decided to get the 5am coach after the gig and with nowhere to sleep or away from the freezing conditions we had to camp out in a junkie stairwell. Sometimes its just not worth saving a few bucks!!
Finally found my way to the stadium by following a few other supporters, had some chips for £2.50, bought a match day program and did a big walk around the stadium to really take it all in and see what they do on match days, which as it turned out today was not a lot outside the ground but was told that this was due to Sky Sports showing this match live which really takes up alot of their time and effort.
On Friday I was lucky enough to tee up a quick meeting with Becky who is the fan support officer at Southampton. We had a great chat before the game about the fan engagement strategies that Southampton use on match days and for their fans. Family fun days had gone down well in the past and today they ran probably the best run relay around a ground I’d ever seen as the kids were dressed up as Santa’s (many blokes too!) and had to run around the ground kicking a footy… Made for a good laugh.
The grounds have your typical burgers, hotdogs, pasties, pies and other typical food but I truly wonder when we’ll see a stadium serving up healthy nutritious ‘take away’ food at games. Perhaps never as the demographic is there for football and a fatty feed but with rising obesity rates and the popularity of healthy and active lifestyles maybe this will change and instead of a pie and chips at games you could get carrot sticks and hummus. Call that crazy but I witnessed it happen at the school tuckshop in my time as a teacher.
The game was a cracking 5 match thriller which I really thought Saints would win based on the shocking week Spurs have had but Adebayor was on fire netting a brace in a 3-2 win. A really cold day where beanie and gloves were needed! Plus a hot pastie.
A few pics from the day.
Left the stadium walking back to the city centre, got the coach to the tube at Hammersmith and curled up into bed.
Overall a great visit to St Mary’s stadium.
Outcome: 2-3 win to Spurs https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/25387088