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|Ground Report||Submitted on 22/02/2005 by Smike|
The Mecca, The Cathedral of The North, The Fortress, the best ground in the country that is more than fitting for the North Eastís capital city.
On any approach to The Toon you simply can't miss it. It stands in regal splendour like Newcastle's very own custodian. No need for tacky, gaudy lettering in the seating as you know instantly where you are. It's the second largest ground in the country with by far the best atmosphere, and it's full for every game.
Football has been played here since 1880 and consequently there's a wealth of tradition. It's maintains time-honoured splendour, something these new purpose-built, carbon-copy stadia lack, yet it has been updated to provide an excellent view from every seat, comfortable, spacious concourses and an electric atmosphere.
The ground itself has changed beyond recognition over the years. The Milburn Stand and The Leazes End (Sir John Hall Stand) have a huge lower tier, with a row of executive boxes and a smaller tier (level 7) above. These stands have the largest cantilever structure in Europe and the impressive, spectacular roof allows the natural light to penetrate through for the benefit of the pitch. Away fans are housed in the corner of Level 7 and are offered up to 3,000 tickets. Most teams fill this section; however there have been some very disappointing away support recently, even from the 'big' clubs. A larger allocation is made available for cup games and support for Feyenoord in the UEFA Cup and more recently Coventry in the FA Cup, have really enhanced the atmosphere. Rangers also provided great support during a pre-season friendly competition. There is a tremendous view from Level 7 of the whole stadium, the Newcastle skyline and countryside beyond. The East Stand and Gallowgate End are lower and also provide an excellent view of the pitch. There is no horrid seat lettering anywhere to be seen, and regardless of the implementation of all seater stadia, SJP has lost none of its atmosphere.
SJP is one of the few grounds left in the country that is literally right in the centre of the city. You are only a few minutes walk from the main shopping areas and a vast array of pubs, clubs and music venues. Indeed, The Big Market and The Quayside are renowned for their party atmosphere. There are numerous places for a drink within direct vicinity of SJP. Most are usually pretty full on match days, however genuine away fans can sample a warm Geordie welcome in most of these pubs providing they behave themselves. The new Shearers Bar is certainly worth a visit. It is housed directly underneath The Gallowgate End (Newcastle Brown Stand), holding up to 1,400 people, it's said to be the biggest bar in Newcastle. There are loads of bar staff so getting served is not a problem, even at busiest times.
The City's China Town is also just a stone's throw away. It offers every type of Oriental food available with some very reasonable 'eat all you like' buffets before and after the game. You can't miss the new Chinese arch, just beyond the St. James ' Metro Station.
If you can get a ticket, come to St. James' Park - the stronghold that majestically dominates the skyline of a wonderfully cosmopolitan, cultural city.