|There's No Place Like Home|
Written by BarneyLW on Tuesday, 29th Jul 2014 07:45
With just over two weeks to go before the season opens with a tough game away at Louis Van Gaal's Manchester United, pre-season seems to have been going well for Garry Monk's men. A solid 4-0 win at Home Park yesterday against Plymouth Argyle, with a potentially tricky home game coming up against Villareal, all after a seemingly positive tour of the US. Not to mention a blockbuster 20 minutes from substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson. Two goals and an assist yesterday, if he can save some of that talent for Old Trafford, he could make himself a hero once again to the Jack Army.
Although, with the general buffet of news stories consisting around transfer stories, rumours and eventually match reports with all the pre-season and soon league matches, I thought I may change it up a bit. With the season soon to begin, I want to pose a question to all the Jack Army faithful:
With the fantastic support shown at the Liberty Stadium consistently over the seasons; if the Swans were to play at any other stadium, what would it be?
Speaking to fans of other clubs, the general theme is that the support Swansea get at home is fantastic. The ground may only hold around 20,000, but it can sometimes feel like double that.
So what would it feel like if there were indeed greater capacities. Seems only relevant to throw out Old Trafford as an example, as that is the place where the curtain will open for Garry Monk's side, in his first full season as a manager.
Although, does a big stadium always equal louder support? While the Emirates Stadium may hold around three times what the Liberty holds, it is sometimes known for being somewhat corporate over partizan. The feel of a new, open stadium can often lead to a decline in consistent volume.
Last season certainly gave the fans at Anfield plenty of opportunity to make noise. Many talk of how the Kop singing the famous 'You'll Never Walk Alone' sending chills down the spine. Yet, the ground very much suffers the same problem as a lot of the big clubs have, where with the influx of what you could call 'stadium tourists' over loyal fans, when it goes not so well, will you get the same consistent support?
A thought that came to mind was Villa Park, a large, tall ground, with an old style echo, where when it's going well, makes the place intimidating for away fans. The same could be said of Goodison Park; perhaps a more relevant example. While support for the Villa seems to be on a decline following a slide in luck for Paul Lambert's side, Everton have consistently been a tough team to play against. Roberto Martinez has them playing attractive passing football, and even the big teams have come away with nothing at an intimidating ground.
So, if a big ground doesn't always match the passion of the Swans' support, could a smaller ground work? The only ground smaller than the Liberty this season will be Loftus Road: At around 16,000, the tightly packed stands, close to the pitch make it tougher for the visitors, with the fans constantly on top of them, giving it a sort of Vetch Field similarity.
There really is no correct answer to this debate, although it invokes some deep thought, especially to those fans who often go to other grounds. Some may have ideas of grounds they wish they called home every other Saturday, others may not be able to see any alternative to their current home. Yet it does make one proud when visiting fans say that one of the smallest grounds in the league has one of the best atmospheres at times, and hopefully with the extension, the club can continue to show off its partizan fans and show the rest of the grounds size doesn't matter.
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Although not an avid collector, I recently catalogued my collection of football memorabilia and I have 175 items, mostly programmes, some fanzines, and a few ticket stubs which aren’t accompanied by anything else. I have no idea how many more may have been misplaced during house moves, clear-outs etc., but the collection spans nearly 30 years (the earliest is the programme from our 1990 Boxing Day game against Barnet at Layer Rd), and is almost universally Colchester United related (though not quite all of it). I have decided to try and put this to some use, by choosing one at random prior to each match and writing a short article about the match, maybe the programme, and even any personal recollections I have of the game (notwithstanding enforced enfeeblement due to excessive libation). I will try and do this ahead of each game this season, but my apologies in advance if I don’t quite achieve that.