I was particularly
looking forward to visiting Villa Park; I've never been to far away from
it being a Walsall supporter, and of course also being a Walsall
supporter I don't get much chance to see such huge stadiums!
I was hoping to see some real quality football too, and to see what
Premiership fans were like. Another factor was that former Walsall player
Gino Padula was in the squad for QPR, and I had to drop by to say hello!
(We could do with him at the minute!)
My personal journey was easy; I took a train from Bescot Stadium station
to Witton, which was only a 5 minute walk from Villa Park.
Not being familiar with the surroundings, I decided not to go into a pub;
instead I went into Villa's superstore, Villa Village to buy a scarf (I
buy a scarf from every ground I visit). The shop was huge, in comparison
to Walsall's! The people working behind the counter were friendly, but I
was waiting there for a good 2 minutes before one of them realised I
wanted a programme (Nicely priced at £1.50).
After coming out of the village I waited behind the North stand for the
QPR team bus to catch a glimpse of Padula. I thought this stand was
impressive... this was before I realised the size of the rest of the
After saying hello to Gino I walked across the Trinity road stand toward
the stand I was going in; the Holte End. Never before have I had to walk
up so many stairs to get into a football stadium! There must have been 2
flights on the outside and another 2 inside. I allocated my seat, and took
in my surroundings. The first thing that struck me was the Trinity Road
stand - as huge as it is, its very very strange. In the centre are spaced
apart seats, and the top corners of the stand were diagonal... I
personally thought this made it look horrid!
I was then drawn to the North Stand. Another unusual stand, where away
fans allocated the lower tier and a spare amount of home fans the upper,
but what makes it strange is that the upper tier is slightly slimmer than
the lower! Also, the lower tier in this stand merged with the lower tiers
of the other 2 stands, but one side is fatter than the other, and it looks
very uneven and untidy. The Doug Ellis stand was probably my favourite
stand, as it looked the most standard!
Another thing I noted was the TV screen between the North stand and Doug
Ellis stand. It featured past matches with QPR and showed some great footy
footage... I think! It was so hard to see, you really need a pair of
binoculars to see that screen (If you're in the upper tier of the Holte
The game itself was a disappointment. Aston Villa made some silly
cock-ups, and only scored thanks to Angel (In my opinion). The Holte End
probably wasn't the best choice being a neutral fan, because the Villa
fans sung every minute of the match. Every other song they sang was about
Birmingham City, which annoyed me... they had nothing better to sing
The atmosphere for me wasn't there. There was lots of singing, the team
won 3-1, but although my hands and voice box was there my heart wasn't. I
would suggest to other neutral fans to avoid the
Getting away from the ground was slightly more bother than I'd expected.
There was a group of around 50 huge QPR fans, throwing things and
shouting. Various people were talking about someone having been stabbed.
But I was going to miss my train! So I walked through them, and although
unhurt I felt very intimidated. The thing that bothers me is that there
were only stewards there, but no police coverage! Surely someone would
have known if things were going to kick off, they'd have lined up some
On the way back to Witton station I collected some fish + chips from a
local chippy, which were as always, delicious!
While waiting at the train station, I met a QPR fan and an AFC Wimbledon
fan... I had a very good chat to them about the state of football at their
end; the AFC fan gave me the full story on the developments between
AFC/MKDons, which I enjoyed (Although he didn't!).
Overall, I had a mediocre night. The football was OK, the stadium was huge
(although horrid to look at) the atmosphere wasn't its best (Although it
was a midweek cup game.. still got 26,000!!).
An unexciting evening, but apart from my scrape with Hooligan danger, not
an unpleasant one either.