West Bromich Albion – The Hawthorns
The Hawthorns is readily accessible from Birmingham City Centre (Moor St or Snow Hill) by a 10 minute train journey or the Metro from Snow Hill. If driving there are various places to park, including free parking at Smethwick Galton Bridge train station. However, this requires a brisk 20 min walk to get to the gates. There doesn’t seem to be many pubs in close proximity to The Hawthorns, but the gates are open sufficiently early to top up from the kiosks. Alternatively, have a few extra in Birmingham before heading out. On the approach to the ground there is the standard selection of burger vans providing vital sustenance for the match ahead.
The ground itself looks pretty smart from the outside and can be seen from the exit to the train station. Inside, I was lucky enough to have secured myself a seat in the more vociferous section in the Smethwick end, which was shared with the away fans. The relatively low roof helped create a decent atmosphere and when the chants of “boing boing” began following the opening goal of the game, the earth (or stand beneath my feet) literally moved for me. Under the stand, where refreshment and the bookies can be found, it was a slightly strange atmosphere unlike any other ground I’ve been too. It had the feel of a conference centre. The “refreshment” in itself was nothing special and is just what you’d expect.
Chelsea were pretty poor until WBA scored, then it was one way traffic! AND I saw Torres score. But it was disallowed. The chants comparing him to Savo Milosevic were a highlight!! Even though WBA were 3-1 down to the reigning champions, the stream of fans leaving early was surprisingly strong. Following the final whistle this helped in ensuring the remaining fans could flow out steadily. The walk back to The Hawthorns train / metro station was shorter than the wait to get down onto the platform but the trains were close together and we trundled back into Birmingham in no time.