Top tips and advice from Gary McAllister and the Amalgamation of NI Supporters’ Clubs
At this stage, it’s safe to assume that fans will already have booked their flights for Southampton. If not, Aer Lingus this week announced a new route from George Best Belfast City to Southampton, so you may still find a reasonable option.
Southampton isn’t too difficult to get to if you’re prepared to connect by train or coach and we’re aware of quite a few who are flying into one of the London airports or even to Bristol before making the onward journey to Hampshire.
We would recommend looking at www.nationalrail.co.uk to book your train travel or www.nationalexpress.com if you want to look at coach options. Be sure to check the train timetables if you plan to travel back to be near your airport after the match, as some services don’t offer late night options.
The train journey from Southampton Airport to Southampton Central Station takes around seven minutes. You can buy your tickets from kiosks at the airport or alternatively online at the trainline.com.
As an example, an ‘Anytime Day Single’ was £4.40, an ‘Evening Single’ costs £3.90 and we were able to book a one-way journey to the airport for a group of three for £8.70. Have a look at the group discounts and even ‘buddy up’ with other fans making the same journey to save a little bit on the fare.
When travelling to Southampton for our pre-visit, I travelled from Heathrow by National Express coach. It took around two-and-a-half hours and the coach station at Harbour Parade in Southampton was located just a few minutes from the train station.
There’s a taxi rank outside the train station, but most places in Southampton are within reasonable walking distance from the train and coach stations.
If you’re staying at or near Above Bar Street, which is known locally as the ‘High Street’, then you can walk from Southampton Central Station or Harbour Parade within 10 minutes. St Mary’s Stadium is around 25 minutes walk. Obviously, if you’re travelling with younger children, you’ll need to factor that into your journey time.
If you do choose to use the bus, from Southampton Central train station take a short walk to Civic Centre bus stop and catch Bluestar routes 3, 16 or 18 or City Red route 8, to Brintons Road, which takes you to within a short walk of the stadium.
The journey will take you a total of 20-25 minutes.
Paying for buses is quick and easy with fares capped at £3.50 for all-day travel. Simply tap on 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 operate between Southampton Central Station and Chapel Road, which is near St Mary’s Stadium, on the day of the match against England — Friday, July 15. The last bus from Chapel Road departs 30 minutes after the final whistle.
Places to eat and drink
Southampton is a fairly compact city and an excellent match day venue. Above Bar Street is very much 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 off the bottom of Above Bar Street. The parties are free entry and will include live music, children’s activities including face painting and interactive games.
You can bring food and drink along, but bear in mind that there’ll be lots of families in attendance, so behaviour should be in keeping with that ethos.
There’ll be ample toilet facilities, including accessible toilets and parking nearby.
St Mary’s Stadium
St Mary’s Stadium has a capacity of just over 32,000 and is an all-seater venue. It’s a walk of around 25 minutes from the main train station and 15 minutes walk from the ‘Fan Party’ venues.
Your match tickets should be accessible via the Uefa Tickets app. Your tickets activate via the app as you get near the stadium. Follow the instructions.
The kiosks inside the stadium are cashless, so you can only pay by using card or contactless. Unfortunately, you can’t bring in 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 can’t be any bigger than A4 size, while flags and banners are restricted to 2 metres by 1.5 metres. Flagpoles are restricted to 1 metre in length and 1cm in diameter. You should also be aware that there’s quite limited space to place supporters’ flags within the stadium, so if a steward advises you that you can’t hang your flag then it’s best to respect that.
We mentioned that if you need to bring food into the stadium for genuine medical reasons, then special permission is required. The same applies if you have equipment that you need for medical reasons, such as a syringe for insulin. You should email firstname.lastname@example.org to request permission and you may require evidence to support your request. We would strongly advise that you do this now.
Keeping in touch
The Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs will be operating our voluntary Northern Ireland Fans Embassy service at each of the matches, alongside Irish FA staff and volunteers.
These will be located at the fan parties and around Above Bar Street.
You can also contact us via our Fans Mobile Network on +447943542100 or you can register for free text updates by sending GAWA in a text to 88802. The text to register is charged at your standard network rate.
You can also contact us via Facebook (TheAmalgamation) or at Twitter (@AoNISC_Travel or @WGMac)
For ticket related enquiries, you should contact email@example.com or WhatsApp a message to +447454226821.
(All games at St Mary’s Stadium)
Norway v N Ireland (July 7, 8.00pm)
Austria v N Ireland (July 11, 5.00pm)
England v N Ireland (July 15, 8.00pm)