A long old haul this one. However my daughter had booked us into a hotel for Friday and Saturday in Neath, only 8 miles form the Liberty Stadium. On Saturday morning I took the opportunity to wander down to the home of Neath FC, The Gnoll. I should point out that this is also the home of Neath RUFC and you will see some strange looking posts in the pictures. When I arrive I see the best sight for any groundhopper - an open gate! I go in and immediately bump into someone, ask him if it is ok to look round, only to be told he is the hot dog man. He tells me to carry on and he will ring someone to tell them I'm here. I'm in the corner of the ground with a large covered terrace in front of me.
I go to the left and there is a large covered seating stand running along the length of the pitch. There are extensions in front of each stand which are increasing the number of seats but I don't think you would remain dry in them on a wet day.
I carry on to the opposite corner where the Social Club is situated. The end of the ground has a small open terraced area but I do not go onto this as it means crossing over the barriers, so I head back to where I came in. Opposite the stand I am in is another covered seated stand, lower than the stand I am in, but this also runs the whole length of the ground.
I return to the corner I came in and go onto the impressive terrace and take some more snaps. The remainder of these can be seen here: The Gnoll.
I return to the hotel and we set off for the game, but first we take a quick diversion to Llarndarcy Park, home of Neath FC until 2008.
Just the one stand, and those strange looking posts again! It looks like the ground is used by the Swansea Ospreys RUFC for their development programme. Neat ground but I can see why Neath FC moved to The Gnoll as future expansion for the team onfield would be hampered by the facilities here.
More photos of Llandarcy Park here.
Then, to the relief of my passengers, we carry onto The Liberty Stadium, home of Swansea City since their move from The Vetch in 2005.
It's hard to appreciate what the Stadium is like outside as the weather is atrocious and we make our way around to the away turnstiles and after a few minutes wait they open to allow us in. Just a word about the most over the top steward I've seen for a long time. Not content with patting down a City fan he also makes him open his coat to see if he is concealing anything. Well if you cannot feel anything from the pat down you gave you are not doing it right mate. While he spends a full three minutes doing this several hundred other City fans have got in with no search at all and even one of his fellow stewards takes the mickey out of him with some of our fans. The concourse seems very small with only one block of toilets for each sex and one teabar for everyone.
Into the stand and the sightlines are very good. The bottom section of seats in not in use and so we are in the upper tier of the stand. The stewards are very laid back inside and I have no problems taking photos.
The ground is ok but very similar to many of the new builds and does not have the character of The Vetch. Our seats have good legroom and the view is good. Unfortunately the performance from City in the first half is not as good and we are losing 1-0 at half time after Pintado scores his first goal of the season after 32 minutes. Swansea have played some good football but do not create many chances in the whole game which means we always have a chance of pulling the game back and on 74 minutes Dany N'Guessan has the chance to slot the ball into the empty net. Instead his shot goes straight to de Vries who is laying on the ground on the other side of the goal. This is our last chance and despite pressing hard at the end of the game there is no further score.
We get back to the car and after only a few minutes wait we are on our way back to our hotel, nice not to have to drive straight back. A nice curry and a few beers waits us in Neath.
Swansea City 1-0 Leicester City
More photos of The Liberty Stadium here.