How Do I Get There?
A standard of start of taking the A19 until you reach the A1(M) which you’ll need to leaving at junction 35 to get onto the M18. Merge onto the M1 when prompted and you’ll need to stay on there until you reach the A42 at junction 32A. Eventually you’ll merge onto the M42 and keep going until you hit the M6. Leave the M6 at junction 8 for a brief sojourn along the M5 until you see junction 1 and take the first exit onto Birmingham Road, where you’ll start to see The Hawthorns.
If you park that side of the roundabout then there’s the usual industrial estate type parking available, for about £5. If you go to the other side of that exit, you can park near some pubs, about a half hour walk from the ground and save yourself the cost.
Where Should I Head For A Pint?
When I just said "near some pubs", there’s was only one I really meant - The Vine. A narrow, long bar, surrounded by houses, with little "snug" type rooms, it’s definitely a match day pub that is also a local for many Baggies fans. The main reason to go though, is the food. The Vine has won awards for their curries and you’d be daft not to try something as it will be certainly a lot more mouth watering than any of Sunderland’s football. Drinks wise, the local brew of Batham’s is always available as well as a decent lager selection.
Many away fans also tend to congregate at The Royal Oak, which is slightly closer than The Vine, around a ten minute walk away. They also serve food if you fancy a bite and it’s a good one to head to if you want a boozer with a more lively atmosphere.
Alcohol hasn’t been available on our recent trips to Albion and I wouldn’t expect it to be on this occasion, so don’t head into the ground early if you fancy a beer.
What Should I Do If I'm At A Loose End?
Located just outside the second city, if you’re staying in and around West Bromwich then there’s plenty for you to get up to.
If you’re a family heading down, then a visit to West Midlands Safari Park and seeing a load of huge animals is great one to take in. Lions, elephants, water buffalos - all the lads are involved. I’ve heard that one of the Rhinos is as hench is Victor Anichebe but I’d have to see that to believe it. You can drive through on your very own safari and guided tours are also available.
Regarded as one of the best comedy venues in the country, Birmingham Glee Club have a cracking bill on Friday and Saturday night, should you be staying over. You can catch Tom Allen, Jarlath Regan, Mike Gunn and Glenn Wool on either night, with Friday’s show admitting entry until 7.45pm and Saturday’s late show (the standard show is sold out, an indicator of how good a bill this is) admitting until 8.50pm. Tickets are only £16.50, with concessions available for students at £10.
If none of that takes your fancy, then there’s always The Pen Museum. The Pen Museum will always be there for you.
What Is The Stadium Like?
If you’re travelling down to West Brom, you’ll be watching the game behind the goal, in one half of the Smethwick End. Albion tend to allocate around three thousand tickets to travelling fans. I’ve been close to the front and right up the back at The Hawthorns and have never struggled with the view wherever I’ve been located.
As a whole, the way The Hawthorns has been redeveloped is similar to grounds like Deepdale, in the way it favours more steep, single tiered stands, rather than have shallower stands broken up by two tiers. The Smethwick End, Birmingham Road End and East Stand all have a similar look to them but The West Stand, where the managers prowl the touchline, is a bit more distinctive in it’s smaller size.
One slightly annoying aspect of being a visiting supporter to West Brom is that when you leave stadium, you’re made to exit to the left. This is fine if you came on a supporters bus, as it takes you right up to where the buses park but if you drove and parked closer to the way you came in, it’s a slight hassle. With any luck though, those of us who have to make our way the way round the ground will be skipping along after seeing our second away win of the campaign.