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Awayday Review - West Brom, Hawthorns
Awayday Review - West Brom, Hawthorns
Sunday, 30th Sep 2007 10:11

The game that saw the end of John Gregory's reign as QPR manager - a 5-1 defeat in front of the Sky cameras. But the football aside, what was the Hawthorns like for the visiting supporters?

1- The Match
Well, this was the game that ultimately saw the end of John Gregory's reign as QPR manager and left us adrift at the bottom of the table. West Brom were far superior in every department but a bizarre team selection and our inability to get the basic things right helped pile on the agony.

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To be fair West Brom are a very good team, probably the best side in the division and almost unplayable by teams at this level when they play like this. Against a side like that you've got to get the basics right and the set up of our team, the players selected and our inability to do things as simple as defending set pieces meant the game was lost almost before it began. We didn't mark our men, we didn't defend as a unit, we didn't close the man in possession down, we stood off and allowed them time to play, we played a terrible offside trap, we didn't mark anybody at corners, the three full backs we used were truly horrific - in short we made it easy for West Brom and they're not a team you want to make it easy for!

In summary, Rangers got a severe footballing lesson as goals from Phillips(2), Miller, Koren and Greening gave the Baggies an extremely comfortable afternoon. Gareth Ainsworth gave the travelling faithful some hope, reducing the scoreline to 2-1 on 24 minutes, but that was as good as it got. It is no secret that Rangers save their VERY worst performances for the Sky Cameras

To quote NorthernR in his match report, describing the build up to the first goal, probably goes a long way to describing the entire afternoon.

A quarter of an hour in Ishmael Miller picked the ball up wide on the West Brom left and after Rehman backed off and backed off and backed off and backed off and backed off and backed off and backed off and backed off and eventually fell on his arse...'

2- Rangers' Performance
Well, being on Sky, most watched it and we definitely all know what the score was… nothing more to be said!

3- Rangers' Support
The Sky cameras and an early Sunday afternoon kick off reduced the away following to about 700, but with the above considered, wasn't a bad turn out by any means and despite what was happening out on the pitch, remained vocal throughout. Although after the 5th goal, the backing of the team turned into 'bye bye, John Gregory' and so forth…

4- The Ground
The Hawthorns is actually one of my personal faves, with the four sides of the ground being redeveloped, it is now fully modernised, but still holds the typical football traditions intact - no more so than the Jeff Astle Memorial Gates on the Birmingham Road. The view from the away end was good and unrestricted and looks to be the case throughout the stadium.

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Pretty much standard conditions in the concourse, although quite spacious with easy access to everything. The warm beer being served was probably the only down side.

5- Atmosphere
Not at all bad, but with the excellent £10 a ticket promotion offered by West Brom, there was probably a good few thousand more Baggies than the norm. Other than that, it was okay but nothing really to write home about - especially with the game being so one sided, there is only so many times you can hear and respond to 'EASY, EASY' and 'BOING, BOING'.

6- Pre-Match
All the guides we'd read had commented on the complete lack of pubs near the ground full stop, never mind those that welcomed away fans with open arms so it was more or less straight to the ground on arrival.

Despite reports to the contrary, there seems to be plenty of parking in the nearby industrial areas and reasonably priced. However, depending on the position you do actually get allocated, you could be in for a long wait after the game.

Plenty of burger vans for those partaking in the traditional football fair and also sweet stalls for the kids, or indeed big kids amongst us. Badge and unofficial merchandise stalls are also a plenty and some are well worth a look.

7- Journey
An absolute breeze for those travelling up from London with no problems on the M40 and furthermore, no problems on the M5 - not even the traditional mile queue at Junction 1. After the game there was a bit of a wait, as mentioned, in our car park, but the journey home was also trouble free - but what is it about a 5-1 defeat that makes it seem like you are driving back from Scotland?

8- Police/ Stewards
Well, we all know that the Midlands Police are not the most welcoming or indeed, friendly. But at West Brom, there was very little evidence of plod around, as probably many of the local constabulary didn't fancy any Sunday overtime. Instead, you are greeted by the local Gestapo, otherwise known as the matchday stewards and yes, they were their normal charming selves. One steward, who proudly was wearing his 'Chief Steward' yellow jacket, was throwing a bit of a hissy fit at the R's following at the back of the stand during the first half, but soon dispersed and left his loyal team of orange jacketed foot soldiers to be as miserable and unhelpful as ever. Still, they weren't as bad as the ones outside the ground, but fairs fair I suppose, they are made to wear bright pink jackets!

A shame really, because the Hawthorns is one of the better grounds to visit in the Championship.

Overall- 42/80

Photo: Action Images

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