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The Hawthorns
  West Bromwich Albion v
Peterborough United
FA Cup, 3rd Round
Saturday 3rd January 2009, 3pm
Geoff Harman

(Peterborough United fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

Have followed the Posh to all of the West Midlands grounds over the years, I needed this one to ‘complete the set’.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

One of the easiest grounds to find! Just off Junction 1 of the M5. Car parking was a doddle, we were actively being enticed into one of the many car parks on the industrial units on the Birmingham Road. Average cost seemed to be about £5

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

We all enjoyed the Chicken Balti pies at the ground, priced at £2.50. Very tasty , BUT the serving areas were far too small to serve the Posh fans that took over the Smethwick End. We ensured that we got our food well before the game. Heard from others that it was a nightmare at half-time. Loads of burger stands etc outside of the ground. Didn’t try the pubs as we were warned that all the local ones are home fans only. Staff in the shop were friendly, as we bought our traditional soft toy as a souvenir. At least they had a ‘Baggie bird’ rather than the boring teddy bears at most other grounds!

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

A nice, tidy ground. The East Stand looked particularly impressive, and dominated the ground. I was surprised at the small size of the Halford Lane Stand. I presume that this was the previous main stand, as it had the players entrance and the tunnel built into it. It looked like the bottom tier of the Family Stand at Posh! I was expecting something rather larger and more impressive. We were allocated all of the Smethwick End, which we pretty much filled, apart from the ‘no-man’s land’ between the 4000+ Posh faithful and the Albion Fans in the Halford Lane Stand. Strange, but all the threats were from the Albion fans on the other side, in the East stand!!

Paid tribute at the Jeff Astle gates! Quite moving to see fresh wreaths and flowers attached to them! A great player!

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..

A 1-1 draw! -Excellent game for a Poshie. An exciting FA cup tie which we could easily have won. Full of end- to- end play! We generated a fantastic atmosphere, but this was sadly lacking from the Albion supporters. (Also commented upon on the local radio!) – but it’s been a bad season for the Baggies so far. Apart from the replay, I wish them well for the rest of the season and hope they survive.

The stewards were fine, the ones we spoke to before the game were great, but they did have to take a bit of stick from some of the ‘less reputable’ elements amongst ‘us’. One lady steward showed great restraint at the taunting she received from one idiot near the front. Hope he was proud of himself!

Toilets fine, much better than the hopeless facilities we ‘experienced’ at Leicester a couple of weeks ago!!

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

The biggest problem was not being allowed out into the Halfords Lane after the game. We were all channelled out the other way, down a long fenced in alleyway, which eventually led the Posh fans back to their coaches. Not a problem if you came by coach!!! However, it was totally the wrong way to get back to my car, parked on one of the previously mentioned industrial estates on the Birmingham Road.

This was a minor inconvenience, as it was presumably to keep the fans apart. BUT this route was, in my opinion a serious danger! It was far too narrow for the 4,000+ away support to go down. I assume that normally only half that number use the Smethwick End and go down this route, while the Baggies home supporters in this stand are sent the other way. The WHOLE of the stand going down this alleyway was an accident waiting to happen! It was on a slight incline downwards and was starting to ice up. IF anyone had fallen, I dread to think of the consequences. There was no visible supervision down this way at all, just a huge crush!! I really think that someone needs to look at this before some-one is injured.

Then some idiot threw a flare down in the middle of all this!

Having eventually got back to the car, we were able to get back on the M5 quickly and away!!! – Just make sure that you park your car on the right side of the road for your journey back.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Travel and parking were easy, natives seemed friendly (apart from the few in the corner of the East Stand!) Prices great – Thank you Albion for making the prices so reasonable for this game. (£5 for concessions)

Facilities good, legroom better than at many grounds. Good, unobstructed views. Friendly stewarding and policing.

A great day out!

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