Top tips and tricks from Gary McAllister and the NI Supporters Club Merger
At this point, it’s safe to assume fans will have already booked their flights to Southampton. Alternatively, Aer Lingus this week announced a new route from George Best Belfast City to Southampton, so you can still find a reasonable option.
Southampton isn’t too difficult to get to if you’re willing to connect by train or coach and we know of several who land at one of London’s airports or even Bristol before continuing their journey to Hampshire.
We recommend you visit www.nationalrail.co.uk to book your train journey or www.nationalexpress.com if you want to check bus options. Be sure to check train times if you plan to return near your airport after the game, as some services do not offer late night options.
At the arrival
The train journey from Southampton Airport to Southampton Central Station takes approximately seven minutes. You can buy your tickets at the airport kiosks or online at trainline.com.
For example, an ‘Anytime Day Single’ costs £4.40, an ‘Evening Single’ costs £3.90 and we were able to book a one-way airport ticket for a party of three for £8.70. Take a look at group discounts and team up with other fans on the same trip to save a little on the fare.
On a trip to Southampton for our pre-visit, I traveled from Heathrow by National Express coach. It took about two and a half hours and the Harbor Parade bus station in Southampton was located a few minutes from the station.
There is a taxi rank outside the station, but most places in Southampton are within reasonable walking distance of the train and coach stations.
If you are staying in or near Above Bar Street, known locally as the “High Street”, you can walk from Southampton Central Station or Harbor Parade in 10 minutes. St Mary’s Stadium is about a 25 minute walk away. Obviously, if you are traveling with young children, you will need to factor this into your travel time.
If you choose to use the bus, from Southampton Central Station take a short walk to the Civic Center bus stop and take Bluestar lines 3, 16 or 18 or City Red line 8, to Brintons Road which takes you a few minutes walk. of the stadium.
The journey will take you a total of 20 to 25 minutes.
Paying for the buses is quick and easy with fares capped at £3.50 for a day trip. Simply press the card reader when boarding with a debit or credit card that allows contactless payment. Cash payments are also accepted.
A free shuttle bus will run between Southampton Central Station and Chapel Road, which is near St Mary’s Stadium, on the day of the England game on Friday July 15. The last bus from Chapel Road leaves 30 minutes after the final whistle.
Where to eat and drink
Southampton is quite a compact city and a great matchday meeting place. Above Bar Street really is the place to be with a multitude of bars, restaurants, fast food outlets and plenty of places to shop.
The official “Fan Party” venues are at Palmerston Park and Houndwell Park, both located at the bottom of Above Bar Street. The parties are free of charge and will include live music, activities for children including face painting and interactive games.
You can bring food and drink, but keep in mind that there will be lots of families present, so behavior should be consistent with this ethos.
There will be plenty of sanitary facilities, including accessible restrooms and nearby parking.
St. Mary’s Stadium
St Mary’s Stadium has a capacity of just over 32,000 and is a venue for all seats. It is about a 25 minute walk from the main train station and a 15 minute walk from the “Fan Party” venues.
Your match tickets must be accessible via the UEFA Tickets app. Your tickets activate through the app when you approach the stadium. Follow the instructions.
The kiosks inside the stadium are cashless, so you can only pay with a card or contactless. Unfortunately, you cannot bring your own food unless you have a genuine medical reason. More on that in a moment!
There are UEFA regulations regarding bags and flags. Bags cannot exceed A4 size, while flags and banners are limited to 2 meters by 1.5 meters. Masts are limited to 1 meter in length and 1 cm in diameter. You should also be aware that there is quite a bit of space to put supporters’ flags in the stadium, so if a steward advises you not to hang your flag, it’s best to respect that.
We mentioned that if you need to bring food into the stadium for genuine medical reasons, special permission is required. The same applies if you have equipment that you need for medical reasons, such as an insulin syringe. You must email [email protected] to request permission and you may need evidence to support your claim. We strongly advise you to do so now.
To stay in contact
The Merger of Official Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs will operate our voluntary Northern Ireland Supporters’ Embassy service at each match, alongside Irish FA staff and volunteers.
These will be located at fan parties and around Above Bar Street.
You can also contact us through our Fans Mobile Network on +447943542100 or you can sign up for free text updates by texting GAWA on 88802. Text to save is charged at your network’s standard rate.
You can also contact us via Facebook (TheAmalgamation) or on Twitter (@AoNISC_Travel or @WGMac)
For ticket inquiries you should contact [email protected] or send a WhatsApp message to +447454226821.
(All matches at St Mary’s Stadium)
Norway – Northern Ireland (July 7, 8:00 p.m.)
Austria v Northern Ireland (July 11, 5:00 p.m.)
England – Northern Ireland (July 15, 8:00 p.m.)