We live next to Prem ground… ‘haunting’ problem keeps us up but it’s NOT the fans & there’s an extra issue on Boxing Day

WHEN you imagine what it’s like to live next to a football ground, you’d expect the cheering (and jeering) crowds to get on neighbours’ nerves.

But locals next to Boscombe’s Vitality Stadium, home to AFC Bournemouth, say it’s a different type of nuisance that’s getting under their skin.

AFC Bournemouth's ground is the second-smallest stadium in the Premier League


AFC Bournemouth’s ground is the second-smallest stadium in the Premier LeagueCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Andrew Martin says locals are annoyed by a'whistling' sound


Andrew Martin says locals are annoyed by a ‘whistling’ soundCredit: Chris Balcombe

One resident told The Sun there is a “haunting whistling sound” – allegedly caused by one of the club’s lights – that is keeping them up at night, which he likened to “a jet taking off”.

NHS worker Andrew Martin, 56, explained: “When Bournemouth was promoted they needed new lights for the HD broadcast on Sky, and since then it hasn’t stopped.

“On a normal day the noise makes it sound like our house is haunted, and on a bad day it’s like a jet is taking off.

“It used to keep us up at night but we’ve had to get used to it now.

“I have a real beef with the stadium about the lights – I looked it up and I believe it’s an easy fix.”

We visited Boscombe in Bournemouth as part of our Life’s A Pitch series, which documents struggles faced by those who live near sports stadiums.

Other locals told us parking can be a nightmare, heavy traffic means two-minute trips can take nearly an hour, and nuisance seagulls and ‘jobs worth’ parking wardens are a menace.

A stone’s throw from the stadium on Middleton Gardens, Clare Murgatroyd, 38, told us she hates the “whistling lights” too.

Claire Murgatroyd says her partner struggles to sleep due to noise from the stadium


Claire Murgatroyd says her partner struggles to sleep due to noise from the stadiumCredit: Chris Balcombe
Middleton Gardens runs alongside the Bournemouth's football club


Middleton Gardens runs alongside the Bournemouth’s football clubCredit: Chris Balcombe

The software sales worker said: “It drives my partner mental, but that’s because he’s OCD and a bad sleeper. It’s not bad during the summer, but when it’s stormy weather you hear it a lot.

“It’s a bit irritating and I don’t know why they can’t cap the ends of the light to stop the sound. A lot of people moaned but they didn’t do anything about it.”

It’s not the only noise issue that Clare’s noticed in her 12 years on the estate – which has private parking and is around 10 metres from the ground.

She said: “There are nesting seagulls that land on the stadium. They are not aggressive but they are really noisy and there are hundreds of them. It does my head in.”

Gulls weren’t the only unexpected visitors. Clare recalled spotting football fans standing on a nearby wall to try to watch the game from outside the stadium in previous years.

“We called them ‘the wall dwellers’. They could see through a gap in the stadium if they stood on the wall,” she said.

“There were a lot of them when Bournemouth played Real Madrid in a pre-season friendly, they all wanted to get a glimpse of Ronaldo.”

Locals claim the'haunting' sound comes from a light


Locals claim the ‘haunting’ sound comes from a lightCredit: Alamy
Locals say parking on match days can be an issue with journeys taking much longer than they should


Locals say parking on match days can be an issue with journeys taking much longer than they shouldCredit: PA:Press Association

Aside from that, Clare likes living in the area and believes it’s “probably quieter than living next to a road… apart from on match days”.

Andrew has lived on Thistlebarrow Road, which runs alongside Vitality Stadium, for 15 years and claimed some residents have taken extreme measures to deal with “thoughtless” football fans.

“We’ve had people phone the police when their driveways have been blocked and they will send someone to take the cars away,” he said.

“It can be a nightmare trying to get in and out, too. Once we got stuck trying to get home from the pub and it took three-quarters of an hour to make a trip that takes two minutes to drive.”

Andrew’s wife Laura, 45, said she now manages her life around the club’s matches, having battled “standstill gridlock traffic that can last over an hour”.

Smashed glass

Down the road Lucy Scott, 26, who works at a drugs and alcohol charity, admitted being apprehensive about the noise before moving there in June 2022.

But she was “pleasantly surprised” by the lack of disturbance, which she jokingly attributes to “Bournemouth not scoring often”.

Her biggest gripe is with rubbish and broken bottles littering the floor around the stadium after matches.

“It’s always in the same place,” Lucy said. “It’s where the fans walk through the gate. I think their bottles are smashed there because they can’t take them into the ground.

“When I take my dog for a walk it’s annoying because there is a lot of smashed glass after the game. I wish the club would do more about that.”

Lucy Scott is annoyed by broken glass around the stadium


Lucy Scott is annoyed by broken glass around the stadiumCredit: Chris Balcombe

Several other neighbours complained about littering, including Andrew, who said he’s started putting his bins on the street to encourage boozers to ditch cans and bottles there instead.

He said: “You used to come out to find lots of beer bottles and cans on or over our wall, but they are getting better at putting them in the bin now.”

Landlord Lee Matthews, 64, believes more should be done to solve the littering problem, but said he has seen attempts by the club to reduce it.

“You do get the odd carton, can and bottle in the hedgerows,” he added. “It’s not great. I shouldn’t have to put up with it, but you do.

“There’s also broken glass, but it’s just something you accept. After match days they should send a few more people around to get rid of the rubbish generated by the club.”

Retiree Mark Elson, 55, said the stadium’s lights were “so bright” that he moved from his front bedroom to one at the back of his house to escape it.

He said: “When I’m in the front two rooms it’s very bright. The club’s sign is all lit up at night. I think they turn it off at about 1 o’clock some mornings.

“I sleep at the back of my house now so I’m far away from it, but whenever visitors stay with me they always complain. I guess I need to get better blinds than I have at the moment.”

Mark Elson moved into his back bedroom to escape the stadium's bright lights


Mark Elson moved into his back bedroom to escape the stadium’s bright lightsCredit: Chris Balcombe

Boxing Day blight

On weekdays, Thistlebarrow Road and some of the nearby streets have strict parking conditions that state no one can park there from 11am until 12pm and 2pm until 3pm.

Some residents said this causes problems for Boxing Day fixtures when they fall on a weekday and Bournemouth are playing at home.

Andrew said parking wardens “have a field day” because people wrongly assume they can park on the street without consequence.

He explained: “You will suddenly see 10 parking wardens out there. It’s just a cash cow for them because people forget they can still get a ticket.

“If Bournemouth are playing on Boxing Day, not only will people who go to the game and park on the street get a parking ticket, but also visiting family members if they park on the street, too.

“It does get a bit silly really. It was much better when they used to put cones at the top of the road to block it off.”

Parking payday

Alice Neale charges cars £10 to park on her driveway on match days


Alice Neale charges cars £10 to park on her driveway on match daysCredit: Chris Balcombe

While some are annoyed by the parking restrictions, some entrepreneurial locals see it as an easy way to turn a quick profit.

At least 10 rent out their driveways to fans and visitors online; we found the most someone charges is £22.50 for nearly six hours.

Andrew said he lets his drive to “some rich guy” for the whole season for £200.

There’s also retiree Alice Neale, 80, who proudly waves her makeshift wood and cardboard sign offering £10 parking on match days.

The resident of 47 years told us: “I can get four cars on my drive so I can make £40 on a Saturday just from people parking.

“I’m slowly building up clientele from far and away. On match days I normally put up the sign outside and stand around sweeping or do a bit of gardening and people approach me.

“When Manchester United came down I charged a minibus £40 to park.

“It tends to happen more often in the summertime but it’s a little bit of extra cash.”

Unsurprisingly many residents in the area are die-hard ‘Cherries’ fans, but for locals watching the games from their living rooms, there’s an annoying twist.

“You can normally hear if our opponents have scored before it comes on the TV. There’s a good 10 to 15 seconds lag,” Mark says.

Many of the gardens on Thistlebarrow Road face the stadium


Many of the gardens on Thistlebarrow Road face the stadiumCredit: Chris Balcombe

Alice pointed out she doesn’t mind the stadium being an occasionally noisy neighbour because she doesn’t have anyone living behind her.

“They only play 19 matches at home and within a few hours it’s quiet again, so it doesn’t really bother me,” she said.

“It’s much better than having neighbours with barbeques who have summer parties and play music all the time.”

Councillor Mike Cox, Portfolio Holder for Finance at Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, said there was a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TRRO) to prevent on-street parking on specified roads close to the football stadium.

He told us: “Irresponsible parking can create unsafe conditions on our roads and has an impact on our communities and residents.

“This matchday TTRO has been produced in conjunction with the Police and the football club. It seeks to keep these roads free from parked vehicles both for the safety of those accessing the stadium on foot and in case emergency access is needed.

“Temporary signs are erected on the street to publicise this on match days, as well as ‘No Parking’ cones which are put out by the football club.”

Lin and Ray Allen, who live in Thistlebarrow Road where their garden backs onto the ground


Lin and Ray Allen, who live in Thistlebarrow Road where their garden backs onto the groundCredit: Chris Balcombe

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