|Swansea City 2 v 2 Leeds United|
Tuesday, 21st August 2018 Kick-off 19:45
Monday, 20th Aug 2018 13:31 by Tim Whelan
Our visit to Swansea City is tomorrow night with a 7.45 kick-off, and once again we’re being televised live on Sky Sports, which will be handy for those of us who can’t get to south Wales in midweek.
On our last few trips to these parts the policing was rather ‘high profile’ to say the least, due to a bit of bad feeling between the two sets of fans (despite our mutual dislike of Cardiff) so you might not be able to wander freely round the city.
Swansea’s Liberty stadium is about two miles to the north of the city centre, near to the former site of the Morfa Athletics Stadium on the West side of the River Tawe. To get there directly by car you need to leave the M4 at Junction 45 and take the A4067 towards the City Centre (sign posted A4067 South). Stay on the A4067 for around two and half miles and you will reach the stadium on your left.
But parking at the stadium is for permit holders only and most of the immediate residential areas around the stadium now have 'residents only' parking schemes in place. Don't be tempted to park on the nearby Retail Park as it has a time limit of 90 minutes, so you may well end up with a ticket!
So away supporters are being encouraged to use the Park & Ride Facility at the Felindre old steelworks, and to get there you need to stay on the M4 till junction 46, and it’s clearly signposted from there. The cost of parking there (including the bus to and from the stadium) is £6 per car. Away supporters have their own separate buses to the ground, with the buses waiting outside the away stand at the end of the game to take you back to the car park.
You’ll have no chance of getting back to Leeds by train after the game, but I’ve included these directions for the benefit of the South Wales whites, for whom a day trip by rail would still be possible. Swansea is one of those places where you face the frustration of going right past the venue and then having to continue for a couple of miles before you can get off the train, so hopefully one day they will get round to building a special halt where the line passes the stadium.
It’s a long walk back but the directions are straightforward. As you come out of the station turn right and go up the High Street, then turn right again at the traffic lights into Neath Road, and if you keep straight along Neath Road you will eventually come to the stadium. If you can’t raise the energy for a stroll, you can get a local bus, as routes 4, 4a, 120, 122, 125, 132 run towards the stadium and there will be at least one of these buses every ten minutes.
There are a few pubs within walking distance of the stadium, with ‘The Harvester’ and ‘Frankie & Benny's’ just outside and the ‘Plough and Harrow’ a short distance away on Llangyfeleach Road. These establishments usually admit visiting fans, and hopefully will still do so even when we’re in town.
Otherwise you can find some decent establishments in the city centre, such as the ‘Bank Statement’ and ‘No Sign Bar’ in Castle Gardens, with latter being listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. You can also get Carling lager and Worthington bitter inside the stadium, no doubt at the usual exorbitant football prices.
Food-wise, there is a Pizza Hut and a KFC in the retail park on the other side of the river, but the best option is a very decent chippy called ‘Rossi’s, opposite the north end of the stadium.
At the start of the century the Swans wanted to move from their former Vetch Field ground, as it had fallen into a rather dilapidated state and it’s capacity had been reduced to 11,000, while the town’s rugby ground was similarly decrepit. So the council got a consortium together to build a new stadium and develop the nearby land, and the Liberty opened in July 2005 at a cost of £27m. City share the stadium with Neath-Swansea Ospreys Rugby Union Club, and a month after opening it also staged Wales’ home game against Slovenia.
The Liberty has a capacity of 20,500 and like most of the other new stadia round the country it is a bit indentikit and soulless. But at least the facilities are excellent, with a large concourse, plenty of leg-room and great views from all the stands. The club’s official site has all sorts of fascinating facts about the Liberty. Apparently it has 250 WCs but only 200 wash basins, which suggests that 20% of Swansea folk don’t wash their hands when they go to the toilet.
The away section is in the North Stand, and as you would expect from a modern stadium the views and the amount of legroom are both excellent, which would be handy if we ever sat down! Swansea don’t sell tickets to away fans on the day, whoever the opposition, which sounds like a good way of encouraging them to end up in the home stands.
Our allocation for this game is 2,077 and was originally sold through the ‘attendance tracker’ loyalty scheme. But the official site is saying that we still have a few tickets left, presumably because it’s a difficult trip to do in midweek and it’s on telly. They cost £30 for adults, with students and OAPs at £ 17.50, and Under 16's £15.
The Club have put in a formal planning application to extend the capacity of the Liberty Stadium to 34,000. The first phase of the developments would add a new tier to the East Stand, increasing the number of seats by 6,000, followed by additional tier at both ends. But no time scales have been announced as to when this could happen, so presumably it won’t happen until they get back to the Premier League.
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