Did you sleep last night? Was the suspense a killer? Well fret no more as Ed Diggins reveals the top five Premiership away grounds.
The top ten away grounds in the Premiership (1 – 5) –
1. Ewood Park
Away End: Darwen End
Allocation: 4000 (big teams get up to 7000)
The trip to Ewood Park gets the vote as the best away outing in the league. Considering that away fans can get the entire stand behind the goal, it can be sometimes difficult to get tickets. The atmosphere in the away end is often superb, especially as up to 7,000 fans can fit in there. The Fernhurst Pub before the game is perhaps the top away pub of the year and is always bouncing; check it out on youtube!. Their fans are a little bit quiet however, perhaps a little spoilt from the good times in the mid 90s! To get there, Blackburn Rail is a good 20-25 minute walk away.
2. The Britannia Stadium
Club: Stoke City
Away End: South Stand
This ground could easily make the second worst as well as the second best, but in the last two years we have had two cracking trips there . The atmosphere is one of the best in England, in what is a real old style football ground, with fans close to the pitch. Pubwise, there are not many places to drink by the ground. If you are travelling on coach club travel, they will drop you off right outside turnstile. A word of caution however – a section the Stoke fans do not have a good reputation. There is a rough element to the ground at times which is a definite negative.
3. The DW Stadium
Club: Wigan Athletic
Away End: North Stand
The huge allocation for away fans here (one entire stand) makes this a place where away fans can have a great day out. The ground is 20 minutes walk from the city centre so no need to worry about trains. If you are getting to the city by train, Wigan North Western and Wallgate stations are 20 minutes away, with a few pubs on the way to shorten the walk! There are lots of pubs by the ground as well with plenty of cheap beer to be bad! There is also the option of the Asda by the ground to buy cans and sing outside one decent pub called The Red Robyn, if I remember correctly.
4. The Reebok Stadium
Away End: South Stand
The allocation here depends on the game. The right hand side of the south stand and upper tiers are dedicated to away fans, but sometimes you get the entire stand, which adds to the atmosphere. A lovely stadium and a decent view, but the home fans are a bit quiet and sometimes not so welcoming. The Beehive pub just beside the ground is where all the away fans congregate and in all honesty, it can be absolutely rocking before games. Access to the stadium is quite good by train. Horwich Parkway railway station is close to the Reebok, with regular trains from Bolton Station.
5. Villa Park
Club: Aston Villa
Away End: Doug Ellis Upper and Lower
Allocation: 1800-3500 (depending on who is visiting)
One of my favourites. Great piss up on Broad Street in the Yates and Lloyds pubs which are regularly rocking with away fans. There is also a few pubs to drink round the ground. I cannot remember the name of the one closest to the away end off the top of my head, but for the last trip, the power went out and we all had to leave. It is an old fashioned stadium in terms of design and closeness to the pitch, but is as modern as they come. Always a good atmosphere in the away end, but we have noticed that the home fans have got quieter over the past five years. The away section has moved since Martin O Neill took over, from the North Stand Lower behind the goal to the Doug Ellis upper and lower. It is very noticeable that it has got more expensive this year, with some fans claiming that tickets have gone up £8 since last year. They also cut the allocations of some of the bigger teams, which is a very bad piece of business and has probably led to the overall atmosphere diminishing. This is why this ground is not at the top. Accessibility to the stadium is quite good; we generally get the train out from New Street and is only three stops away, with two stops within five minutes walk of the ground.