Friday, 2 February 2007

Stadium Review #13 - The Hawthorns

Ground Information: The Hawthorns (West Bromwich Albion FC) Capacity 28.,003

Appearance: From the exterior, some sides looked much like a new block of flats, but the blank blue corner aspects were very boring and jarring - just a huge blue wall. Was very surprised at how open the Birmingham Road end was, the exit gates being just normal bared gates straight onto the road; several people were watching the Arsenal match through them. From the inside, the smaller Halford Lane stand provided the 'novelty factor' What also surprised me was the seating on the Birmingham Road stand that was around the corner! 6/10

View: Sat near the back of the Smethwick End stand near the segregation, a bit far away but a good view unless people in the two rows in front stand, then you have no chance unless you stand too. 6/10

Getting there: One of the easiest grounds ever - turn right at M5 junction 1!. The Hawthorns metro station is nearby, but miles away from a mainline station. Car parking is available in any of the dodgy looking empty warehouses next to the ground. Ironically this is 'secured parking'. The coach drops you off a 5 minute walk from the ground, which seems bizarre to start with but makes sense at the end of the game (see stewarding/police section) 9/10

Facilities (toilets, TVs etc): Another stadium with excellent toilet facilities, though the concourse was a little cramped. Only one bar/food outlet facility is available, meaning long queues. The usual TVs were dotted around. Plus if you are of a larger build, you may want to book two seats, these are the most cramped I've ever been in - no leg or shoulder room at all. And what about the adverts played at half time? It's like going to a cheap cinema! 6/10

Food and Drink: Wasn't feeling too great so only had a chocolate bar. Even if I wanted a pie, there was only one left (which I gallantly offered to my mate). Reasonable prices. 7/10

Stewarding/Police: How many stewards and police does it take to evict three people? Answer 15 coppers and 13 stewards. Most probably one of the most over zealous displays ever witnesses, especially as one of the evictees had his head rammed into the metal advertising board when his resisted arrest. Plus the bizarre post-match segregation that leads you down an alleyway to the middle of nowhere, at the bottom of the hill back up to the main road. Very poor showing. 2/10

Surrounding area (what's there to do outside the ground): Grim northern s**thole is too nice really. Apart from a McDonalds, there's nothing else but a load of rundown warehouses and an electrical store nearby. There are very few pubs too, you need to hunt out an away-fan friendly one (or just arrive really early and claim one). 4/10

Home fans (their contribution to the atmosphere etc): Some would say they were poor, but home atmospheres are suffering all over the league this season, but at least they did sing even if many couldn't hear them. 6/10

Total score: 46/80

Stadium League Table:
Pride Park (Derby): 65
Poltair Park (St Austell): 57 [non league]
Stadium of Light (Sunderland): 55
Ricoh Arena (Coventry):51
= Carrow Road (Norwich): 50
= Walkers Stadium (Leicester): 50

Underhill (Barnet): 49
St Andrews (Birmingham): 48
The Hawthorns (WBA): 46
Deepdale (Preston): 43
Ninian Park (Cardiff): 42
Roots Hall (Southend): 41
London Road (Peterbrough): 36

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