Well what a pleasant surprise this was. Despite only visiting St Andrew’s once previously, for a thrilling cup game that Sunderland won in extra time, my memory of this place wasn’t fond.
I remember drinking out of date beer from the Morrisons supermarket opposite because no local pubs would serve us, and feeling intimidated in the car as we snaked our way home afterwards. It’s not the nicest away day as a supporter, or it wasn’t ten years ago anyway.
Visiting as a neutral is a different story though. A wander around the ground is generally welcoming and enjoyable. It’s been rebuilt fairly recently but still has enough character about it that it looks like a football ground.
The club’s initials are welded into metalwork, there’s an old stand probably not fit for use but still there. In fact, when I took in a game there it was closed completely, giving a rather surreal view as a visiting supporter! One slight note on this stand though – it houses a giant pink banner the length of the pitch that advertises giant banners. Surely the only people big enough for a football pitch-sized banner are the football clubs you’re paying to advertise in!
In all though, it’s a pleasant enough ground. Plenty to look at from the outside, although the inside isn’t great. I’m aware of the club’s reputation to visiting supporters and have been on the receiving end myself, but as a neutral or someone just visiting the area to look at the ground from the outside, it’s definitely enjoyable.