Who Are These Jobbers?
Oh, it’s you. Little old Burton Albion. Little annoying, infuriating, frustrating, relegating Burton Albion. Oh, look at you with your tiny stadium with a stand sponsored by a caravan company. You think you’re so great, don’t you? Coming up to the Stadium of Light with your blindingly yellow kits and your Darren Bent and your incredibly effective influencing of referees.
Oh, don’t worry, we remember. But let me tell you this, Burton. We saw James Vaughan score against you. Yeah, the James Vaughan. The hotshot James Vaughan. He actually scored against you, and he was dead, dead happy about it...
...well, I’m not actually sure he was; he proceeded to aggressively cup his ear to the away supporters - like he’d actually managed to achieve something.
Yeah, you may think you were big and clever relegating us, but we’ve got something now that you’ll never have. Loads and loads and loads of new red seats. Yeah, not so tough now are you, Burton?
Here we are again, ladies and gentlemen. Face-to-face with the side that provided the absolute nadir of supporting Sunderland AFC. That looping Liam Boyce header on a sun-kissed spring day seems a lifetime ago now and, in hindsight, it was a blessed relief that a team of Burton’s ilk put us out of our misery. A team of which no-one can really hold any ill-feeling towards, or any indifference for that matter.
The Brewers slammed the final nail in the Ellis Short era’s coffin and set the wheels in motion for a much more positive mood on Wearside. So thanks for that, I guess.
As for our fellow 2017/18 relegatees, after years of over-achievement they have slid back into League One and taken their place among the likes of Gillingham, Southend United and Wycombe Wanderers at the lower reaches of the table.
The perennially miffed Nigel Clough remains in charge and they feature a team of “hey, he’s still playing” characters such as Stephen Bywater, John Brayford, Stephen Quinn, David Templeton and Marvin Sordell. And luckily for yer da, Darren Bent will not be featuring this time round, so he’ll have to save his boiling piss rage for someone else - probably Lee Cattermole.
What’s The Ground Like?
Is it possible to fall in love with a football ground? Is it appropriate to get all dewy-eyed whilst thinking about a November afternoon when we bowled about rain-sodden terraces? Dancing under the Staffordshire moonlight as we thought a revolution was brewing under the guidance of a dreamy Welshman? Feels a long time ago, doesn’t it?
The Pirelli Stadium may not be the most glamorous, but it is delightfully fun. While the novelty factor of being crammed into a tiny standing section may well be waning due to our recent descent into a division which normalises this experience, Burton’s home remains an absolute treat.
Housed in the East Stand will be around 1,500 Mackems, whilst a handful of lucky (unlucky) Massive Lads’ Fans will also occupy a small portion of the seated Main Stand.
Any repeat of King of the Goals James Vaughan cupping an ear to a baying public is something we can only dream of. I’m getting all teary just thinking about it.
How Do I Get There?
After the mammoth trips to Luton, Gillingham and Wimbledon, a shorter drive to Burton-upon-Trent seems an almost leisurely jaunt. It is a pretty straightforward journey down to the land of milk and honey (or Carling and real ale, take your pick). Take the A1 (M) to junction 35 leaving for the M18 and M1. Follow this to junction 28 exiting for the A38 heading towards Derby before leaving at the Burton North exit for the A5121.
Now you’re in Burton, baby!
Follow the signs for the Pirelli Stadium and the ground is on your right hand side. Parking is available at the ground and the adjacent Ryknild Trading Estate for £5.
Planning on getting lost? Type DE13 0AR into your sat nav.
That being said, if there is one fixture that has to be experienced on the Great British railway network it is Burton Albion. Burton upon Trent railway station is around a 25-minute walk from the stadium or you can hop in a taxi for around £6.
Where Can I Get The Sesh Started?
Excuse me for a moment while I attempt to stop salivating uncontrollably at the thought of spending an afternoon in the brewing capital of the United Kingdom. If you enjoy a couple of pints before and after watching The Lads smash a bunch of League One no-marks then, brothers and sisters, you are going to love Burton-upon-Trent.
From the moment you step off the train, you will be greeted by the alluring aroma of hops and barley wafting on the breeze. Start your adventure on Station Street which is home to wealth of welcoming alehouses. Almost next door to each are The Roebuck Inn and The Last Heretic while venture a little further down and you will be able to enjoy an ale and a delicious pork pie at The Coopers Tavern on Cross Street.
If, like me, you are only swayed by the accolades a pub has accrued during its existence then you will be making a beeline to the 2018 Burton & South Derbyshire Pub of the Year which is The Dog on Lichfield Street. The establishment, which also claimed runner-up in the Staffordshire Pub of the Year, has 11 cask ales, six craft ales and over 15 types of gin - what more could you want?
Honourable mentions for the Prince of Brewers on High Street, Burton Bridge Inn on Bridge Street and the delightfully named Fuggle & Nugget Micropub on High Street.
I’m Staying Owa, Is There Owt To Do?
See what makes Burton so special by paying a visit to the National Brewing Centre. Here is where you will find out how a humble Staffordshire town became the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of the British Isles. The museum opens at 10am, so you can take the tour before the match and, don’t worry, there is a taproom where you can quench your thirst afterwards.
Tickets are priced at £11.95 for adults and from £6.95 for concessions. Book a visit here.
Hey, do you like jazz? How about jazz in a brewery? How about jazz in a brewery after a football match? Well, you, my friend, are in luck - the Burton Jazz Festival just happens to be this weekend with The Jazz Knights Orchestra headlining the shindig on Saturday evening. There is support from The Ben Holder Quartet which are described as “one of the most exciting bands to emerge in recent years” which possess a sound that “harks back to the fun and swing of the 1920s”. Nice. The festival is held at the National Brewery Centre (where else?), and tickets can be bought here.
However, here at Cans & Megabus we like to cater for all ages, so if you’re taking the kids to the Pirelli Stadium then maybe swing by the National Forest Adventure Farm on Sunday afternoon. Feed goats, traverse climbing walls, bounce on git big trampolines, dig some soil at the JCB Big Dig Zone, build a massive Lego structure, get lost in the Maize Maze, pet a pig, stare at a Shetland pony... actually this sounds more fun than the match.
Yeah, erm, if anyone wants a spare ticket for the match I’ll be at the National Forest Adventure Farm.