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Villa Park
Aston Villa v
Saturday, March 31st 2012, 3pm
Premier League

By Joe Fowler
(Chelsea fan)

I had been to Villa Park last season, and thoroughly enjoyed the day. Also, Villa Park is one of the historic Premier League stadiums, which always adds to the attraction. In saying that, we travelled to a ground where we have taken all 3 points on just one occasion in the last 12 visits.

The car journey to Birmingham was simple enough, however, once inside Birmingham, it becomes very hard to find your way. We had printed off a route planner, which was very helpful, but the stadium isn’t well sign posted. We parked the car in a match day car park for £4, about a 10 minute walk from the ground.

We decided to go straight to the ground, where we’d have something to eat and a drink. Walking to the ground in a Chelsea shirt seemed a tad risky, but only 4 drunken Villa supporters were abusive towards us. Apart from them, the fans seemed friendly.

From the outside, the ground gives the impression of being old, with its red bricked walls, although it is all relatively modern stadium. The stadium on the inside looked quite impressive, with each stand looking different. Our tickets were in the lower tier of the Doug Ellis Stand, in the corner, next to the Villa fans in the North Stand. Chelsea took the full allocation, and so there were 3,000 of us, but it didn’t feel cramped. The concourse is huge, meaning that it doesn’t get too congested (unlike in the upper tier). 

The game itself was brilliant! In the first half, we could have been 3-0 up if not for some good Villa defending. There was a rapturous applause in the 19th minute for Stylian Petrov, where both sets of fans showed their respect. The second half was crazy. We went 2-0 up, and appeared to be costing. However, in the blink of an eye, they had pulled it back to 2-2. This was the first time in the entire match that the Villa fans seemed to make any noise (except for the ones next to us, who spent the entire game chanting at us). We then made it 3-2, and in the last minute, Fernando Torres’ hard work paid off as we sealed a 4-2 win. Us Chelsea fans sung non stop throughout the game, and even got applauded when singing “there’s only one team in Europe! The stewards did a decent job of keeping the fans apart, escorting one Villa fan out of the ground who threw a flare. A number of Chelsea fans got removed from the ground too, after ‘over’ celebrating Torres’ goal, which seemed a bit unfair. The food was alright. I had a burger, which without being terrible, was okay. Away fans should take note that Villa doesn’t sell alcohol to away fans.

We walked out of the ground in good spirits, and except for a few clashes of fans, the Police made sure that there was no real trouble. We walked back to the car, but I thought it wise to cover up my Chelsea shirt, especially as we appeared to be the only Chelsea fans on the car park. We drove back, stopping at a service station for a drink.

This has been my favourite away trip, and I found every aspect of it really enjoyable (except the walk to the ground). The team put in a great performance, as did the fans. Look forward to coming back next year, and hopefully, the same outcome!

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