Monday, 2 January 2012

West Bromwich Albion - The Hawthorns

West Bromwich Albion FC
The Hawthorns
Halfords Lane
West Bromwich
West Midlands
B71 4LF

0871 271 1100
Official Website

Matchday Number: 186
Saturday 7th January 2012
West Bromwich Albion v Cardiff City
FA Cup 3rd Round

As Wycombe's game against Huddersfield was switched to a Friday night, owing to being picked as a live game by Sky TV, I had the opportunity to take in another game on the Saturday. I am working towards completing the 92, and after looking at prices and travel cost, I narrowed it down to 2 choices. Initially I was thinking of going to Doncaster v Notts County, but my mate Dan couldn't make it as he was going to Barrow v Darlington (though that could change if events this week take a turn for the worse) So I looked at the other game, West Brom v Cardiff City, this was much closer and a lot easier to get to, plus the chance of Wycombe playing West Brom anytime soon was fairly slim. I was delighted when my mate Jack (of the excellent Jack and the 92 website) decided to come with me.

I had prebooked my ticket before, at the fairly cheap price of £20 for one of the best seats in the stadium, right in the centre of the East Stand, high up on the halfway line. I also got a bit of a bargain on the train tickets, £5 each way to Birmingham from the website RedSpottedHanky and then only £2 for a return to The Hawthorns from there. It would have cost me £30 in petrol, plus parking, so it was a bit of a no brainer to be honest. The only bone of contention was that I had to get exact trains in and out of Birmimngham, namely the 09:23 from High Wycombe and the 18:45 back from Birmingham. But it was a sacrifice worth making considering the saving. And I could get to have a look round Birmingham, taking particular interest in finding a decent pub!

On the day, I woke up at 8 and was out of the house by 8.30. I nipped into town and got a breakfast sub from Subway, as well as a paper and a few drinks for the journey up there. It was a trouble free journey, and I arrived in Birmingham just before 11am, so 90 minutes on the train was not bad. But a complete change of plan regarding going for a drink. I had completely smashed my liver in the previous night, due to the pathetic performance on the pitch of my beloved Wycombe. You see dear readers, the team had been completely humiliated live on Sky, the team could not give a monkeys and were outclassed by a far superior Huddersfield side 6-0 in fact. So I had plenty of drink to dull the pain, frustrated that I was.

One thing I did notice about Birmingham was the sheer amount of A) daft haircuts - some of them were more embarrassing than the Wycombe showing last night, believe it or not. B) Religious fanatics, trying to dish out pamphlets and DVD's - both Christian and Islamic. And C) The sheer amount of baguette shops, there must have been about 10 within a couple of minutes walk of each other. And it kept the prices down, with some starting from 50p. And they weren't bad either, I had a Sheekh Kebab one and a Spicy Chicken Tikka one and they were both nice with fresh bread. And the market was huge too. So before long, it was time to get the train to West Brom, which should have cost me £2 return. But I accidentally got on the tram, thinking that that was what I was meant to do. But it cost me another £2 as my ticket was now not valid. I eventually got to the Hawthrorns Station at about 1.30 and waited around for Jack. We were unable to find the famous Motherf*cker burger van, so had to settle for a normal one, which was OK but nothing special. We then had a look around the club shop before going into the ground. We had some time to kill so watched the end of the Birmingham v Wolvcs game, which wasn't up to much. We hoped that our game would be a lot better, and we were not disappointed as this match report from Clubcall shows...

Simon Cox scored a hat-trick as West Brom overcame Cardiff to progress to the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Roy Hodgson's side conceded a two goal lead in the game and were made to work for the win by a Cardiff side who had one eye on their Carling Cup semi-final first-leg against Crystal Palace on Tuesday.
Bluebirds boss Malky Mackay made ten changes to the side that beat Reading on Monday and the warning signs were there early on when Peter Odemwingie fired The Baggies ahead. The goal will be the major talking point from the game as the Nigerian forward appeared to be clearly stood in an offside position as he received the ball from Craig Dawson but referee Lee Probert allowed it to stand.
The hosts doubled their lead on 33 minutes when Nicky Shorey's free-kick was headed in by 24-year-old Cox who had scored just one League Cup goal this season.
The Championship visitors looked dead and buried but former Baggies striker Robert Earnshaw had other ideas. He guided in Filip Kiss' cross moments later to halve the deficit and five minutes after the restart Cardiff were level when Joe Mason's shot went through the legs of Ben Foster.
West Brom made an immediate response as Nicky Shorey saw his 25-yard strike clip the crossbar before former Swindon striker Cox fired them back into the lead with a wonderful strike from distance.
Kiss and Paul Quinn both saw late opportunities to equalise saved by Foster and the game was eventually put beyond doubt as Cox secured his hat-trick in the 90th minute.
Odemwingie could have added further insult to injury in injury time when he shot wide from a one-on-one opportunity but The Baggies place was already booked in the fourth round. Cardiff meanwhile will be disappointed to have fallen at the first hurdle but have bigger fish to fry in their Carling Cup semi-final next week.

After the game we made our way back to the station before going separate ways, having enjoyed each others company. I got back to Birmingham with an hour to spare, so had another look around the city. I eventually got back to Wycombe and home by 8.30, having had a really good day out. 

THE HAWTHORNS has seen extensive refurbishment over the years. I was sat in the East Stand along the side, which is the biggest stand in the ground. The views from here are excellent, with no pillars obstructing your view. Opposite is the Halfords Lane stand, which is smaller. The away fans are located in the Smethwick End, whilst at the other end of the ground is the larger Birmingham Road end. Overall there is a capacity of around 30,000, making it one of the smaller grounds in the Premier League, but still better than some of the larger capacity grounds in terms of atmosphere and view. There isn't a lot around the ground, the nearest pub is about 10 minutes walk away, though there is a rather amusing burger stall nearby that sells Motherf*cker and Daddyf*cker burgers!

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