|Blackburn Rovers 0 v 2 Leeds United
Saturday, 9th December 2023 Kick-off 12:30
Friday, 8th Dec 2023 09:16 by Tim Whelan
This season’s trip to Blackburn Rovers is on Saturday with kick-off at 12.30, and it looks like we’ll be taking the biggest away following in the Championship this season. It’s not on Sky, but the Police insisted that this game would have to kick off early if we got the full allocation.
By car it should be pretty easy to find Ewood Park as you need to head for junction 4 of the M65 and then take the A666 (no idea if the number of the road comes from any local satanic rituals) towards Blackburn for about a mile and the ground will appear on your right behind a couple of side-streets.
Street parking is very limited near the ground but there are a couple of car parks available further away, including several for around £5 in the industrial estate on Branch Street, which is a sharp right-hand turn off the A666 just after you’ve passed a petrol station on the left.
To avoid getting stuck in traffic after the game it’s best to turn left on leaving the car parks (going away from the stadium) then right at the second mini roundabout to get back to the M56. The small retail park opposite the ground warns football fans not to deny parking spaces to the good customers of Aldi and Iceland, or else.
Blackburn has a direct train service to and from Leeds, and according to the National Rail website it will be back to normal after the latest of the series of strikes. The 08.57 from Leeds should get you there in plenty of time, but it would be advisable to check how the trains are running before setting off on Saturday morning.
The main railway station is 1.6 miles to the north of Ewood Park and is opposite the main entrance you can catch the number 1 bus, which goes down Bolton Road past Ewood Park on the way to Darwen. You can catch it from stand 1 and it runs every ten minutes or so. Alternatively, there is another railway station called Mill Hill, which is only half a mile from the stadium, which is also served by that 08.57 from Leeds.
The main pub for Leeds fans in the town centre is usually the Weatherspoons ‘Postal Order’, and amazingly they still seem to keep letting us in, even though Leeds fans have caused damage there on at least one occasion in the past.
Near the ground is the Fernhurst Hotel, which visiting supporters can normally use, but it fills up pretty quickly on a matchday. And to maintain the ‘family atmosphere’ they want us to refrain from singing songs, or otherwise being boisterous in any way. As if! For anyone driving in there is the Golden Cup near the motorway intersection, while another option is the ‘Navigation’ next to the canal near Mill Hill railway station.
If you need some grub in town before or after the game, you should head for Darwen Street where every other outlet is a take-away of some description. Nearer to Ewood Park the options are on the other side of Bolton road from the stadium, where you can find a kiosk, a cafe and a chippie. And on our last couple of visits there was also a fan zone area behind the away end, where you could get refreshments and watch the highlights of previous meetings between the two sides on some large screens.
Ewood Park now holds 31,367 and it had three new large two -tiered stands built during the 90's, as the stadium was expensively rebuilt by Jack Walker. And the oldest stand (the smallest) on the riverside was built as recently as 1988. Around ten minutes form the end of a match you can expect around half of the spectators in the main stand to leave their seats and walk along the track in front, leaving the stand half empty.
We have been allocated the whole of the Darwen end, which means an allocation of 7,337. And despite their generosity, Leeds fans have snapped every one of them up. This time we weren’t able to agree a reciprocal deal, but adult tickets are still a mere £30, even though it’s category A, with various categories of concessions from 96 to £24.
There have been a few moans from Blackburn fans about the big allocation, as the extra support might give us a boost on the day, but most acknowledge they need the money, and that it wouldn’t make sense to deny us tickets when plenty of space remains in the stadium. Their website is currently saying that tickets for home fans are still available in most sections, but you’d need to have a previous booking history to be able to buy one.
The away stand itself offers pretty good facilities, as we would expect from a modern stadium. It is disappointing that there wouldn’t be much legroom if we ever sat down, but at least the toilets are pretty good and spacious, and the stewarding is relatively relaxed.
At one time there were plans to replace the remaining original part of the ground, the smaller Walker Steel Stand by the riverside, with a new structure holding 15,000 fans. But this scheme was shelved when Rovers fortunes began to dwindle and it remains to be seen whether it will ever be completed. If a new stand was built on this side it would raise the overall capacity to 40,000, but these days Rovers don’t get large enough gates for such an increase in capacity to be needed.
Some of this stuff came from www.footballgroundguide.com .
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