|West Bromwich Albion 1 v 1 Leeds United|
Wednesday, 1st January 2020 Kick-off 17:15
West Brom Awaydaze
Tuesday, 31st Dec 2019 13:34 by Tim Whelan
Our visit to West Bromwich Albion kicks off at 5.15pm tomorrow, and yet again we’re live on Sky TV. We’re not famous any more!
The Hawthorns is an easy ground to get to by road, as it's only half a mile from junction 1 of the M5, along the A41 towards Birmingham. There are a few private matchday car parks at some local industrial units near the ground which you can use for about a fiver, or park at Hawthorns railway station at a cost of £4, though there aren't many parking restrictions on main roads around the stadium.
The problem will be getting away afterwards, as there are long queues to get back to the M5, so you might be better off going the opposite way from the motorway junction and heading west towards West Bromwich town centre. There is street parking here and you still won't have too far to walk, while you will also be closer to the best of the pubs and the takeaways.
There are a couple of options for getting there by public transport. From Birmingham New Street you can walk to Snow Hill (a 5-10 minute walk through the city centre) and then catch a train or tram to The Hawthorns station, which is a 5 minute walk from the stadium. Tomorrow the trains from Snow Hill will be at .22 and .52 past the hour, but after the game the frequency will have dropped to hourly, at 19.31 and 20.31.
Or you can catch a train direct from New Street to Smethwick Rolfe Street, which is about 15 minutes walk to the stadium. Trains there will be at 15.03, 15.25 and 16.05 and 16.25. Again it’s only hourly coming back, at 19.41 and 20.39.
And one more option is the West Midlands metro, which has been extended to the ‘Grand Central’ stop next to the exit from the north side of New Street station. You can get a tram to the Hawthorns from there, which run far more frequently than the train services, though will take longer as though they have a lot more stops.
There are only a few pubs close to the stadium, and most of these are home fans only, but there are one or two decent establishments a bit further afield. Towards West Bromwich town centre (going west from the motorway junction, as above) there is the 'Vine' (take the first left into Roebuck street once you’ve left the junction) which sells curry as well as beer. The pub is also close to the Kenrick Park Metro stop.
Also recommended to the west of the motorway is the ‘Park Hotel’, where you can park for £5. In the opposite direction from the motorway is the 'Royal Oak', which also sells Asian food as well as beer and can be found on the main road half a mile after passing the stadium. One final option is to sample the ‘Rose Villa Tavern’, ‘Red Lion’ and ‘Lord Clifden’ CAMRA listed pubs close to Jewellery Quarter station.
There is also a ‘fan zone’ on the other side of the road from the stadium, on the corner of Halfords Lane and Birmingham Road, which normally admits away fans and sells booze and food. Albion usually sell alcohol inside the stadium, but it remains to be seen whether they will do so for our visit!
The Hawthorns first opened in 1900, and by 1924 the capacity had increased to 65,000, though that figure was steadily reduced as safety standards became increasingly stringent in modern times. The old Halfords stand fell into disrepair and had to be rebuilt from 1979 to 1982, then the Taylor report meant that the terracing at both ends had to be replaced by new stands, a task which was completed by 1995 at a cost of £4.15 million. Finally, the old Rainbow Stand was replaced by a new East Stand, which opened in 2001. The current capacity is 26,850.
Away fans usually get 3,000 seats on one side of the Smethwick End, but for this game our allocation is only 2,000. This is ridiculous when we could have sold far more, but I suppose none of us will lose sleep over Albion missing out on the extra income they could have had. The tickets were sold through the ‘Attendance tracker’ loyalty scheme, and inevitably they have all sold out. They cost a mere £20 for adults, with various categories of concessions from £5 to £15.
To buy a ticket for any of the home sections of the stadium you would have needed to got your hands on 10 loyalty points, but even if you’ve managed to do that, it’s too late to get a ticket now, because they have also completely sold out.
The facilities are ok, and the view is pretty good, but the leg room is a little bit cramped, or at least it would be if we ever sat down. The biggest problem is on the concourse, which is pretty small for the size of the stand and often gets crowded. There is also a review from a Leeds fan on the football ground guide (see link below) saying the stewards were a bunch of pillocks last season, so hopefully they’ll be better behaved this time.
After the game away fans can't leave the same way they came in, but have to go down an alley which goes round in a big curve before reaching the main road ten minutes later.
The club have plans to increase the capacity to over 30,000 in the future, by re-developing the Halfords Lane Stand', which is now the oldest part of the Hawthorns. But this scheme was first suggested over a decade ago and there is still no timescale as to when it will actually happen. So it is possible that we will get a more generous allocation of tickets in the future, but if you held your breath waiting for it the chances are that you would suffocate.
Some of this stuff came from www.footballgroundguide.com.
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