Massive fan surge creates headache

BY BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 05:00 17/08/2009

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Some Stags fans were forced to miss the opening 10 minutes of Friday night's Air New Zealand Cup match after a massive late walkup crowd created headaches for staff at Rugby Park.

Southland rugby officials anticipated a crowd of about 4000 for Friday's match against Manawatu with only 2700 tickets snapped up before the game.

A fine night and a public cry from Rugby Southland boss Roger Clark to support the team during the week obviously hit home, with a whopping 8500 people attending the game Southland's biggest NPC or Air New Zealand Cup crowd in more than a decade.

A walkup crowd of 6000 people who turned up at the ground only 30 minutes before the match placed intense pressure on ground staff and toilet facilities on the terraces during the match, though. The last fans eventually got into the stadium about 10 minutes after kickoff.

Clark said they could usually project crowd figures on the day from pre-ticket sales with ground staff numbers planned around this.

He admitted that the attendance at Friday's nights match exceeded his expectations.

"It's a bit of a catch-22 situation. It's the best crowd we've had in 10 years. There was a 6000 walkup crowd 30 minutes before the game. That created its own issues ..."

Southland has another home match on Friday night at Rugby Park against Hawke's Bay which should attract another large following. Fans will have an extra reason to get to the ground early with Southland Boys' High School playing Waitaki Boys' High in the final of the inaugural Highlanders First XV competition as a curtain-raiser.

brendon.egan@stl.co.nz

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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