Johnny Cantor: Old grounds are missed but stadiums like the Liberty represent ambition

It's certainly been a long time since I went to the Liberty Stadium, 2008 in fact. Covering AFC Bournemouth at the time I described 'two minutes of madness at the Liberty Stadium' as Jo Kuffour and Joe Partington both scored in injury-time to hand the Cherries a 2-1 win in League One.

Thursday, 2nd November 2017, 7:00 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 5:22 am
Albion fans celebrate the 3-0 win at the London Stadium against West Ham last month. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

I remember it well as I was impressed by the Swans’ new stadium and the spot in the stand where I was positioned.

It was a stark change to my place behind the huge post at Luton and one a few feet from the toilet at Accrington.

This weekend as I head over the bridge, Swansea are in a very different position. And so are the Albion. The Welsh club have been through so many managers but have established themselves and have recently maintained their place in the top flight despite flirting with relegation.

The Liberty Stadium is a stark contrast to the Vetch Field ground. It represents ambition and also is an example of the new venues, like the Amex, that aim to welcome the away fans as well as those supporting the boys in white.

I’ve discussed the loss of grounds such as Highbury, White Hart Lane and Upton Park before but the benefit of newer, more comfortable venues is that fans of all ages and of all clubs enjoy the experience.

A cynic may say it is a way to charge higher prices and I admit the cost of supporting some top clubs is eye-watering but fans deserve to feel safe.

The debate over safe standing and rail seating continues but progress is being made, albeit slowly. I’m sure the atmosphere will be aided by such areas and I would welcome them but it’s good that there is a choice.

This season Seagulls’ fans have been to the Emirates and the London Stadium and will look forward to Anfield and Stamford Bridge. This weekend’s long trip to Wales may not offer the glamour but I hope the fans receive a warm welcome.

In such a key encounter, two goals in injury-time to win the match would make it a highlight of the season.

Johnny Cantor covers Brighton & Hove Albion as a commentator and reporter for BBC Sussex Sport.

Follow all the action, home or away, on BBC Sussex Sport or Twitter: @BBCSussexSport or @johnnycburger

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