Burton Albion FC
Ground Number: 150
Sunday 8th November 2009
Burton Albion 3-2 Oxford City
FA Cup 1st Round
BURTON ALBION - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club was established in 1950 and started out in the Birmingham & District League. After finishing as runners-up in 1954, they joined the Southern League's second tier in 1958. Though they struggled at first, a 3rd place finish in 1966 saw Burton Albion promoted to the Premier Division. They'd stay in the Southern League until 1979, flipping between the two divisions. Finishes would range from 10th in the Premier (1976) to 21st in Division 1 (1960) during their first spell. They transferred to the NPL in 1979, enjoying top-half finishes in all but one season. A return to the Southern League came in 1987 where the success continued. There were two runners-up spots (to Boston United and Margate) around the turn of the century before a transfer to the NPL in 2001. They were champions in their first season, 15 points ahead of their nearest challengers Vauxhall Motors. Burton Albion fared well in the Conference, eventually winning promotion to the Football League as champions in 2009. A fair few seasons were spent in League 2 but following a couple of near misses in the playoffs, Burton were promoted up to League 1 as champions in 2015. Their first season in League 1 was hugely successful with a runners-up spot behind Wigan Athletic sealing them promotion to the Championship. The 2016/17 season saw the best finish in the club's history as they finished 20th in the Championship. Last season saw a 23rd place finish and relegation to League 1 with the club occupying a mid-table placing at the halfway point of the season.
Burton Albion were regular participants in the 'proper' rounds of the FA Cup as a non-league side but their best run came as a league club. The 2010/11 saw them beatOxford United, Chesterfield & Middlesbrough before a 3-0 defeat at Burnley in the 4th Round. This season has seen an incredible run to the League Cup semi-finals. They've beaten Shrewsbury Town, Aston Villa, Burnley, Nottingham Forest & Middlesbrough to set up a two-legged semi-final with Manchester City. Albion got to the FA Trophy final in 1987, however, they lost out to Kidderminster Harriers after a replay. Local Cup wins include the Southern League Cup (three times) NPL League Cups (three times), Birmingham Senior Cup (twice) and the Staffordshire Senior Cup (1956)
MY PREVIOUS VISITS
I had initially planned to visit the Pirelli Stadium in 2005. Wycombe had been knocked out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle at home to Northampton Town. It would prove typical that this was the season I had picked to see if I could do a game in every round of the FA Cup from the Extra Preliminary to the Final. I got quite far, reaching the quarter-final but was put off by the £400 price for the FA Cup Semi-Final games, that was being offered by a ticket tout website. The rest of that journey will be chronicled elsewhere on this site. Back to the day in question, all was fine until I got up to the Birmingham area, then on the radio, it was announced that my intended game - Burton Albion v Burscough, had been called off due to a frozen pitch at the Pirelli Stadium. So other plans were made. It was a toss-up between an all non-league clash at Nuneaton and Walsall v Yeovil. I am sad to say I chose Walsall, despite having been there, and I never did see a game at Nuneaton's old ground, Manor Park. But my way of thinking must have been different then, and to be fair, the game at Walsall was not bad, in fact, it was one of the better ties I saw that season.
So fast forward a few years to season 2009/10. Wycombe were in League One and I still wanted to visit Burton. They had a Sunday game against Oxford City, again in the FA Cup. As I finished work at 12 I decided to go. The journey up was easy enough and as per usual I visited a few grounds on the way up. I was with my mate Paul again and we eventually got to the ground just before 2. As there were no pubs that I could see, we went straight in and were immediately impressed. There was a bar under the terrace, and best of all, a fantastic tea bar. This is the best tea bar that I have seen at any football league ground, and I filled my boots as they say. Sausage, Curry Sauce and Chips were followed by Faggots and Mushy Peas, with a pint of Magners to wash it down. Good value and very nice too. The sight of a giant-killing on the TV as Northwich Victoria beat Charlton Athletic got me in the mood for the game.
The game itself was excellent. Plucky Oxford City's FA Cup dream ended in pride as Ryan Austin spared Burton's blushes with a last-gasp goal to snatch a dramatic 3-2 triumph. In the fifth minute of added time, the Southern League side had defender Andy Ballard sent off for a second bookable offence and, from Michael Simpson's free kick, full-back Austin stole in to head the winner off a post. Oxford's part-timers made a dream start by taking the lead after only six minutes when goalkeeper Artur Krysiak allowed an 18-yard shot from former Burton midfielder Michael Alexis to slip through his hands. But the League Two side were back on level terms inside eight minutes courtesy of a Shaun Harrad penalty after the striker had been flattened by City full-back David Perpetuini. Burton's improving play was rewarded by a second goal on the stroke of half-time when Michael Simpson's pass split the Oxford defence for Jacques Maghoma to slip a close-range shot past Richard Knight. But Oxford refused to lie down and fought back to equalise in the 55th minute when midfielder Jamie Brooks powered home a 12-yard header from a Mark Janes cross. But Austin had the final say deep into injury time. The Oxford City fans were delighted that we had come from Wycombe to support them as we went in their end and sang songs about our rivals Oxford United. All in all, it was a great day out and an easy journey home too.
I made subsequent visits when Burton Albion met Wycombe in the Football League. Three occasions I went, with a win and two defeats. The best was my first Wycombe visit when we won 2-1 in 2010 including a great goal by now manager Gareth Ainsworth. Subsequent visits in 2013 and 2015 produced defeats. Really, I should have used these opportunities to update my blog, but I wasn't that bothered about that sort of thing at the time, just buying a programme for my collection on my later visit. Hence my 2018 journey, which would also present me with an opportunity to visit the town's many excellent pubs.
VISIT 5: BURTON 3-1 WYCOMBE (26/12/18)
Continuing with my mission to go to all the Wycombe away games that I’d not done a blog on, I knew back in June that I’d be going to Burton. It was a ground that I’d already visited four times, my most recent visit being in 2015. I should have updated my blog then really, but for whatever reason, I didn’t. It meant that I’d miss out on a Boxing Day groundhopping double, but it wasn’t all bad news. I learned that the coach would be stopping in Burton town centre, a real treasure trove for pubs. I selected the best 6 and put them on a list, though in reality I’d probably only get to 3, narrowed down on the morning of the game by putting them into Google Maps. I’d had a good Christmas Day with the family, though it wasn’t the healthiest. It was a disappointment that my parents had chosen not to attend the game, meaning that it would be a pricey day out for me. I’d offset some of the cost by getting tickets for Burton and Scunthorpe away for Christmas presents though.
The day of the game came and I’d not had the best night’s sleep. I was up and ready with plenty of time to spare. After some breakfast, I walked to the coach stop. Due to an error on the driver's paperwork, he’d gone to town first, but despite being around 10 minutes late to pick me up, we still left Wycombe more or less on time. I passed the journey time by reading some of the book that I got for Christmas - Bloody Southerners - about Brian Clough and Peter Taylor’s short managerial stint at Brighton & Hove Albion. The menus came round for the pub that the coach was stopping at, offering a tempting array of dishes, however, I’d already decided that my pre-match would be spent elsewhere. I learned about where we were potentially stopping for Saturday’s game up at Scunthorpe, a reasonable looking place, but lacking in real cider. I decided to investigate further and weigh up my options, possibly going elsewhere. There was a minor delay due to congestion on the M42, meaning we didn’t get to Burton until 12.30.
With me slightly peckish by now, I decided that my first stop would be the Lord Burton Wetherspoons so I could get something to eat. A pint of Devils Leaf cider and an all-day brunch was enjoyed for little over £8. From there I made my way to the recommended Last Heretic Micropub where I had a pint of Burrow Hill Farmhouse. This was the pub of the day, with a good friendly owner. My final planned stop, the Coopers Tavern was closed, so I walked back towards where the coach was. I stopped at The Dog Inn, having a pint of Broadoak KB. By now it was 2pm, so I made my way back to where we stopped, The Crossing. I was tempted to grab a quick half as we had 10 minutes to kill but decided not to bother as they only offered Mango and Rhubarb ciders. It was a very short journey to the ground, with us getting there at 2.30. I didn't have time to go to the pub down the road. Instead, I went into the ground. They had a reasonable cider on, Aspall's Harry Sparrow, so I had a pint of that along with sausage and chips. The day had been pretty decent up until that point, but this was Wycombe Wanderers. True to form, we turned in an absolute stinker of a performance. We were abysmal against bottom of the league AFC Wimbledon on Saturday and it carried on today. We actually took the lead in the first half, a lucky Jake Buxton own goal putting us ahead. We only held the lead for a few minutes when Burton equalised. It was all downhill from there. The damage was done by a brace by from Lewis Akins and a goal by David Templeton did the damage and that was before we reached halftime. The second half saw little prospect of a comeback and it made for a disappointing day out. I slept most of the way home, getting back just before 8. I had a couple of bottles that I'd got for Christmas before watching Match Of The Day and going to bed around midnight.
THE PIRELLI STADIUM is a smart and modern ground and a pretty decent new build, even for League One. The only thing that is slightly low is the seating capacity with only one seated stand - capacity just over 2,000. The rest of the ground is covered terracing, split equally on three sides and a capacity of around 5,000, making it 7,000 capacity overall. Away fans get 1,400 standing places behind one goal, plus 400 seats. Views from these as you would expect from a modern stadium, are good. The club shop at the ground is pretty basic, offering a small range of items. Overall, it is a nice place to visit, with friendly fans and stewards.
Food at the ground is excellent, probably one of the best in the Football League with reasonable prices. Faggots and Mushy Peas are especially unique and are very tasty. Away fans also get their own bar, though it's quite limited, there is an indoor room where you can sit. Burton town centre itself is situated around a mile and a half or 25 minutes from the ground and this has a huge range of pubs to suit all tastes. Nearer to the ground (around 10 minutes walk) is the Derby Inn which has a range of real ale and ciders.