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…It’s pretty cramped inside the New Road stand, and I don’t mean that as an insult at all. It feels – for want of a better word – like a proper stand. Once kick-off approaches it seems to teem with humanity, and as me and Nathan stood and chatted over a burger (me) and a hot dog (him) you start to feel like you’re a little bit swept up in a tide of fans, having to lean this way and that to let anyone through. And here comes the only real issue I found with Griffin Park: If you buy some food and want sauce on it, you’ve got to walk about ten metres away from the concession stand to be able to apply condiments, then walk back again. Easy if the place was empty, a bit trickier when it’s so full.
Nathan would have more walking to do because at half time he was needed to do an interview with the official Brentford website and media partner, but in the Braemar Road Stand. That involved walking all the way around the ground rather than just nipping across the pitch or around the touchline, then doing the same to get back for the second half. I hoped for his sake that the second period of this game wouldn’t start as quickly as it did at West Brom last week.
With about five minutes to go before the game began, I bid my farewells to Nathan and wished him luck for the game. I then found my seat, and found myself in the midst of a lot of chaps – most older than me – who all seemed to know each other pretty well. I guess this is a consequence of buying someone else’s season ticket seat for the day.
The first thing I noticed – apart from the lack of elbow room compared to newer stadiums, but you don’t mind being packed in on a cold day – is that the dugouts were right in front of us. I appreciate that if you sit near the halfway line that you might be near to them, but the nature of Griffin Park being so close to the pitch meant that you really feel like you’re right on top of them. I looked forward to seeing the notably volatile Rotherham boss Steve Evans up close during the game.
Most of my favourite football stadiums are in London, where being close to the pitch is more common and space is at a premium. I love Upton Park, White Hart Lane, Brisbane Road, I did love Highbury and now I love Griffin Park. With the place pretty much full it instantly reminded me of watching football as a kid, from the terraced Ealing Road End to the two-tiered standing and sitting Brook Road Stand, where the away fans are put. I’ve since learned that this end is called “The Wendy House” by some fans, and it’s the most accurate nickname I’ve heard for quite some time….