It was a class day, but the Toon fans got a bit carried away after the game and there was looting of some of the shops where the supporters buses were parked.
We got back on the coach and two lads carried a full-sized rolled up CARPET that had been stood outside one of the shops, and after a struggle to get it on, placed it on the floor between the seats.
One said: "Wor lass will be awer the moon when I tek this in the hooose!"
What Is It Like For Visiting Supporters?
Away fans are housed on one side of the Smethwick End, where the normal allocation is 3,000 seats. This means that this stand is shared with home supporters. For cup games, the whole of this stand can be allocated to away fans, raising this figure to 5,200. The facilities and the view of the pitch in the Smethwick end are okay, although the leg room is a little cramped. I have been to the Hawthorns on a number of occasions and have always found it to be a fairly friendly place. The only thing against a visit in terms of a day out is a nearby pub for away fans, meaning that most elect to drink inside the ground instead. Considering that the concourse at the back of the Smethwick End is pretty small in comparison to its overall capacity, then it has an uncomfortable feel, especially when there is a large away support. One tip on finding your seat in this stand, is to remember that although your ticket is marked with the letter of the row, say Row B Or Row LL, the plates indicating the row in the stand read B1 or LL1. As you would expect a number of fans get confused by the addition of the number 1 and start to wander around the stand looking for their seat. So you have been warned. Also in first gaining entry to the stand, the Club operate automatic turnstiles, where you have to put your ticket (which has a bar code on it) into a slot reader, which then allows the turnstiles to admit you. There are stewards on hand if you get a problem and on my last visit fans were also being searched before entering the ground. Strangely I noticed that fans were not allowed to bring in take away food from the nearby McDonalds.
Look out for the West Brom Mascot called 'Baggie Bird', who does a good job of entertaining the away fans before the game. This even involves going in goal and challenging players to take a shot!
Greg Whitaker adds; 'I've been to the Hawthorns twice as an away fan and had a similar problem on both occasions. There is a huge metal gate, outside the stadium, next to the away fan section. On my first visit, this was closed before the game, meaning we had to walk in a big loop through a load of residential streets to get round to the other side of the gate. On my most recent visit, the gate was closed after the game. There are no signs to give you directions and, with it being an evening game, I ended up wandering deserted streets in the dark trying to find my way back to Rolfe Street station'.
Where To Eat & Drink?
There are no pubs for away fans that are particularly close to the ground. Huw Morris, a West Brom fan, recommends 'The Vine' which is about a 20 minute walk from the ground. From Junction 1 of the M5 turn left towards West Bromwich town centre (opposite direction to the ground). Take the first left into Roebuck Street. The Vine is down on the left. You can also street park in this area and walk to the ground. This pub also does Indian food and has an indoor tandoori barbeque (from 1pm on Saturdays), plus has a beer garden with children's play area.
Dave Wilson recommends; 'The Park Hotel which is just off junction one of the M5 and a 10 minute walk to the ground. You can park on their car park for £5 and away fans are always welcome. There are plenty of families who meet in here before games and it is a very safe environment. There is also plenty of street parking in and around the area of the hotel if you don't want to pay the £5.'
Sean Mowat a visiting Sheffield United supporter adds; 'As you pass the ground on the right on the main Birmingham Road. Carry on about another half a mile and there is a pub on the right set back off the road called the Royal Oak. We've been in the last two times we've visited WBA. The beer is okay and they also serve Asian food (try the chicken kebabs!). It had a friendly atmosphere'.
How To Get There By Car & Where To Park
The ground is located on the A41 (Birmingham-West Bromwich Road). If approaching from outside the area the ground is about half a mile from Junction 1 of the M5. On leaving the M5 take the A41 towards Birmingham, the ground is on your right. Beware though of speed cameras on this stretch of the A41. Street parking or alternatively there are a few private matchday car parks at some local industrial units near the ground, or at Hawthorns station which costs £4.
The closest railway stations are The Hawthorns which is about five minutes walk from the ground and Smethwick Rolfe Street, which is about a 15 minute walk from the ground. The Hawthorns is served by a Metro service from Birmingham Snow Hill station, whilst Smethwick Rolfe Street is served by local trains from Birmingham New Street. The Metro service takes eight minutes to the Hawthorns from Birmingham Snow Hill and trains run every 15 minutes. Please note though that train tickets are not valid on the Metro and that you have to buy a separate ticket for it (ask for a £2 matchday special adult return). Birmingham Snow Hill station is signposted from Birmingham New Street and is around a 10 minute walk away. C Price adds; 'On Halford Lane just below the train/metro stop is a chip shop called the Hawthrones (which yes is spelt incorrectly). Fish and chips cost under £2 and are of good quality and it also serves pies and kebabs'.