When there is more than one team from the same city in the same division, you get to know the routes to and from where you are to where they are. I’ve no doubt that, given there are six London clubs in this season’s Premier League, and that many fans will have been to all six by train, that people have come to know the various London termini quite well by now. However, this is as nothing when it comes to people travelling to see the two teams in the city at the end of the M62, because it isn’t just a case of travelling to the same city terminus…the proximity of the two of them means that they even share the same local station. Which is a bugger then that, because of a certain horserace putting the kibosh on my trip to the red half, I can’t simply copy the same post twice, and can only report back on my trip to Everton.
Date: 12th May 2013
Stadium: Goodison Park
Away Section: Bullens Road Stand
Score: Everton 2-0 West Ham United
Nearest station: Kirkdale
Local rozzers: Merseyside Police
Total Travel Cost: £78.00 (2 x Advance Singles, 1 x Weekend First, 1 x Soccerbus Train Return)
09:11 – New Cross to London Charing Cross (Southeastern Class 465/466 Networker)
Northern Line – Charing Cross to Euston (1995 Stock)
10:15 – London Euston to Liverpool Lime Street (Virgin Trains Class 390 Pendolino)
13:55 – Liverpool Central to Sandhills (Merseyrail Class 507)
17:14 – Sandhills to Moorfields (Merseyrail Class 508)
18:48 – Liverpool Lime Street to London Euston (Virgin Trains Class 390 Pendolino)
Northern Line – Euston to London Bridge (1995 Stock)
21:43 – London Bridge to New Cross (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)
Station to Stadium: Goodison Park, much like its near neighbour on the other side of Stanley Park, is something of a trek for those favouring “shank’s pony”; the nearest railway station is Kirkdale, which is around a mile away through myriad side streets. This is why it’s a lot easier to take advantage of the shuttle bus service that operates from outside Sandhills station and drops you on Walton Lane at the Park End of the ground. Then it’s merely a case of a short wander (which is nice if it’s sunny, and rubbish if it’s raining) along the road to Bullens Street, and hey presto, the away turnstiles.
Anything else?: The “Soccerbus” scheme operated by Merseytravel is in place for both Everton’s and Liverpool’s home games, and run from the same railway station, Sandhills. Similarly, Kirkdale is the closest railway station for both Goodison Park and Anfield.
Eventually, we all have to make that journey; the journey that all teams that win promotion to the top flight have to make at least once a season, and that is the one to the home of the reigning league champions. And, most years, that will involve a trip to what is arguably England’s second city…although the people that live there can fight out that claim with the other one that is arguably England’s second city. However, just for once, it isn’t to the home of the ones that bear the name of one city but reside in another that this accolade belongs, but instead to their “noisy neighbours”, Manchester City
Date: 27th April 2013
Stadium: City of Manchester Stadium
Away Section: South Stand
Score: Manchester City 2-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: Etihad Campus
Local rozzers: Greater Manchester Police
Total Travel Cost: £32.20p (1 x Off-Peak Day Return; 1 x Tram Only Dayrider; 1 x Matchday Return)
Line 1 – Nottingham Trent University to Nottingham Station Street (AT6/5 Incentro)
09:45 – Nottingham to Manchester Piccadilly (East Midlands Trains Class 158 Express Sprinter)
East Manchester Line – Piccadilly to Etihad Campus (M5000 Flexity Swift)
East Manchester Line – Etihad Campus to Piccadilly (M5000 Flexity Swift)
15:43 – Manchester Piccadilly to Nottingham (East Midlands Trains Class 158 Express Sprinter)
Line 1 – Nottingham Station Street to Nottingham Trent University (AT6/5 Incentro)
Station to Stadium: Initially, on construction of the City of Manchester Stadium, Ashburys was the closest railway station. The construction of the new Metrolink line to Droylsden has since seen a new transport link adjacent to the stadium, with a station serving it directly. The station is located at the north end of the ground, which is also where the club have built a “plaza” for pre-match entertainments; to reach the away end entails simply walking around the exterior of the ground. However, this can prove inconvenient as the police helpfully cordon off the away section at the end of the game – as a consequence, it may be more convenient for away fans to use Velopark, one stop further on, which is also closer to the away end, just five minutes down the Ashton New Road.
Anything else?: Etihad Campus was the third name assigned to the station before it opened, having initially been known as Sportcity-Stadium and then Eastlands City Stadium, before gaining its present name with the advent of the Etihad Campus development.
Finally, at long last, an away game to get excited about. You might wonder, dear reader, why this particular one is such a one to get my juices mixing and gushing with excitement. Well, I’ll tell you – I’ve been travelling around the country under my own steam (well, my own money, and National Rail’s steam actually) for some time now, and for most of that time I’ve been watching a Premier League team. And therefore I’ve been going to the same old away games year after year. That’s why last season was so exciting, as it meant trips to a load of places I’d not been before. This season, I’ve had just two opportunities, and one of them went for a burton right at the start of the season. That, and the lack of a run in either cup competition, has meant that this one is my only opportunity to add a new ground to my list. Hence I’m morbidly excited about the trip to Southampton.
Date: 13th April 2013
Stadium: St Mary’s Stadium
Away Section: Northam Stand
Score: Southampton 1-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: Southampton Central
Local rozzers: Hampshire Constabulary
Total Travel Cost: £37.50p (1 x Off-Peak Day Return)
10:58 – New Cross to Cannon Street (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)
Waterloo & City Line – Bank to Waterloo (1992 Stock)
11:39 – London Waterloo to Southampton Central (South West Trains Class 444 Desiro)
17:47 – Southampton Central to Reading (CrossCountry Class 221 Super Voyager)
18:39 – Reading to London Paddington (First Great Western InterCity 125 High Speed Train)
Bakerloo Line – Paddington to Charing Cross (1972 Stock)
20:02 – London Charing Cross to New Cross (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)
Station to Stadium: St Mary’s is yet another one of the brand new stadia that have sprung up around the country over the last few years, and is also one of those that is a fair heft from the railway station. Fortunately, although a fair old walk, unlike some others, it is still in the city centre, and therefore does not require walking along a dual carriageway. Southampton Central has two entrances – by leaving the station via the southern entrance, you find yourself on the Western Esplanade. Walk straight on up here, past the Civic Centre and onwards down to the major intersection, where there is a comprehensive pedestrian subway system. Ensure that the route you take through the subway brings you to opposite where you’ve just come from, and carry on walking down, past the gas holders, and you end up at Britannia Road, which will then take you to the away end.
There is also a shuttle bus that runs from the northern side of the railway station, which, today certainly, would have been a better option to avoid getting wet.
Anything else?: The South Western Main Line branches just north of St Mary’s; the main line continues on to into Southampton Central, while the branch continues past the ground and onwards towards Southampton Waterfront. The route has been safeguarded, and there have been calls for the route to be reopened for passenger trains, including a station to serve St Mary’s.
Ah, the derby. It is completely alien to me what it’s like supporting a team from a one club city, given that it’s a rarity that the Premier League has less than five clubs from London in it. As a consequence, when you support a London club it ends up as derby after derby, with the occasional visit from a team from the north-west. Well, this is the last of my away trips in the nation’s capital for this year, and the one that, were it a midweek game, would not even entail a rail journey to get to the ground, given that in my day job I work not ten minutes walk from Chelsea.
Date: 17th March 2013
Stadium: Stamford Bridge
Away Section: Shed End
Score: Chelsea 2-0 West Ham United
Nearest station: Fulham Broadway
Local rozzers: Metropolitan Police
Total Travel Cost: £4.80p (2 x Oystercard extension, 1 x Oyster Tram single)
13:39 – Lewisham to London Victoria (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)
14:36 – London Victoria to Clapham Junction (Southern Class 377 Electrostar)
14:46 – Clapham Junction to West Brompton (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)
District Line – West Brompton to Fulham Broadway (D78 Stock)
District Line – Fulham Broadway to Wimbledon (D78 Stock)
Route 3 – Wimbledon to East Croydon (CR4000 Flexity Swift)
18:47 – East Croydon to London Bridge (Southern Class 377 Electrostar)
19:27 – London Bridge to New Cross (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)
Station to Stadium: The area around Stamford Bridge could be described in part as one of the more affluent locations to host a football club, which is why Fulham Broadway station has an upmarket shopping centre with a cinema, several eateries and a gym/fitness centre over it. Of course, in order to avoid the centre being swamped with a load of plebby football fans on matchdays, there are now separate entrance/exit routes off the platforms, which bring you out behind the centre with a direct walk onto the Fulham Road. Then it’s simply a case of turning left and finding the right entrance, as, like other grounds I’ve been to, this one opens out in one direction. For the away fan, the entrance is the one on the east side of the ground, next to the two hotels that Chelsea decided were a better idea than a larger ground to build.
Anything else?: Heading south from West Brompton, the Wimbledon branch of the District Line runs along the north side of Stamford Bridge to call at Fulham Broadway, while the West London Line runs along the east side to Imperial Wharf, effectively hemming the stadium in and making any expansion difficult, hence the reason for Chelsea’s bid for Battersea Power Station.
It’s a truism to say that there are certain places one goes as a follower of a football club whereby one should exercise what would perhaps be described asa certain degree of caution, owing to the fact that the supporters of the team you happen to be opposing on that particular day have a reputation for being…let’s say “vocal”. And by vocal you can of course use that as a euphamism for whatever you like. I have been to several such places in my time with, of course, no trouble at all. And yet at only one of them have I felt the slightest twinge of unease. Which of course would lead to any sane person asking the question “why on earth do you keep going back?”. To which my answer is “because I’m a fan”. And that’s why I’m yet again making a return to Stoke City
Date: 2nd March 2013
Stadium: Britannia Stadium
Away Section: South Stand
Score: Stoke City 0-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: Stoke-on-Trent
Local rozzers: Staffordshire Police
Total Travel Cost: £17.50p (1 x Off-Peak Day Return, 1 x Off-Peak Tram Only Single + 1 Shuttlebus return)
Line 1 – Royal Centre to Nottingham Station Street (AT6/5 Incentro)
12:08 – Nottingham to Derby (CrossCountry Class 170 Turbostar)
12:42 – Derby to Stoke-on-Trent (East Midlands Trains Class 153 Super Sprinter)
17:33 (Dep 17:38) – Stoke-on-Trent to Derby (East Midlands Trains Class 153 Super Sprinter)
18:39 – Derby to Nottingham (CrossCountry Class 170 Turbostar)
Station to Stadium: The Britannia Stadium is yet another of those new grounds, though certainly less of an “identikit” one than other new stadia around and about. That being said though, it is one of those new ones where transport to and from the city centre was seemingly less of a priority, being more than two miles from the railway station off a junction of the A52. Of course, this is a distance that is walkable, and, if you’re like me, in not a huge amount of time. But then why walk when there are shuttle buses on offer from a stand next to Stoke Minster, which is less than 10 minutes walk from the station. Simply turn right out of the station and down to the main road, then turn right again, under the railway bridge, over the bridge across the A52 and down the hill, and hey presto, you find yourself on Glebe Street with a line of buses ahead of you.
Anything else?: The Crewe to Derby line, which serves Stoke-on-Trent, is a fairly quiet, rural line with one train an hour in each direction, and yet serves four Premier and Football League clubs (Derby County, Stoke City, Port Vale and Crewe Alexandra), as well as Uttoxeter racecourse.
When one goes to watch football in England, there are certain places that perhaps resonate more than others. Wembley, the “Venue of Legends” is of course the ultimate one, one that I’m forever pleased to say I’ve now been to. As a Londoner, supporting a London club, trips to our local rivals are also up there. But then there are others, those major, major grounds that have history for practically everyone, which is what this one does – this one, the scene of yet another of those magical moments in my personal story, the home of Aston Villa.
Date: 10th February 2013
Stadium: Villa Park
Away Section: Doug Ellis Stand
Score: Aston Villa 2-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: Witton
Local rozzers: West Midlands Police
Total Travel Cost: £20.50 (1 x Off-Peak Day Return, 1 x Tram Only Dayrider)
NET Line 1 – Lace Market to Nottingham Station Street (AT6/5 Incentro)
10:27 – Nottingham to Leicester (East Midlands Trains InterCity 125 High Speed Train)
11:19 (Dep 11:21) – Leicester to Birmingham New Street (CrossCountry Class 170 Turbostar)
12:43 – Birmingham New Street to Witton (London Midland Class 323)
15:17 – Witton to Birmingham New Street (London Midland Class 170 Turbostar)
16:12 – Birmingham New Street to Derby (CrossCountry Class 220 Voyager)
17:40 – Derby to Nottingham (CrossCountry Class 170 Turbostar)
NET Line 1 – Nottingham Station Street to Royal Centre (AT6/5 Incentro)
Station to Stadium: Villa Park is unquestionably seen as one of the great stadia in England; one that all those that follow a club feel they want to go to at least once. So, it is perhaps fortunate that, while its position is not totally equidistant, it does sit between a pair of railway stations, making it somewhat easier to arrive at the ground from different directions. Of the two (Aston and Witton), Witton is the closer by some margin, being only around 500m from the entrance to the away section as the crow flies. Of course, fans will have to walk, which makes it a little bit longer. Coming out of the platform onto Witton Road means you need to turn left under the railway bridge, and then take the next left onto Manor Road, at which point you can see the stadium over the roofs of the surrounding buildings.
Anything else?: In my personal experience, Aston Villa is the only away trip I have made where “football specials” still run. These run on the former freight section of the Chase Line before turning back towards Birmingham New Street. As a consequence, it is possible on these trains to arrive and leave Witton on the same platform.
Just like buses are league derbies. You wait ages, and then three come along in succession. Not content with the last away game to Arsenal, the one prior to that was a home game against QPR. Would you Adam and Eve it (said Chairman Pip going all cockney on the world)? Still, there we are – we go where we must. And obviously a derby game is a must, no matter who it is against. There are the big ones against ones most hated rivals, and then there are the other ones – of course you still want to win, because you want bragging rights. But there is much less of the intrinsic hostility. That being said, I’ll be very annoyed if, having been their bogey team for so long, we fail to come away with something from the trip to Fulham.
Date: 30th January 2013
Stadium: Craven Cottage
Away Section: Putney End
Score: Fulham 3-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: Putney Bridge
Local rozzers: Metropolitan Police
Total Travel Cost: N/A (Zone 1-2 Travelcard)
District Line – Fulham Broadway to Putney Bridge (C69/77 Stock)
District Line – Putney Bridge to Wimbledon (D78 Stock)
22:17 – Wimbledon to London Waterloo (South West Trains Class 455)
22:55 – London Waterloo East to New Cross (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)
Station to Stadium: Craven Cottage is one of those funny grounds that looks like it should be fairly close to the nearest station, until you actually get there and find that it isn’t. Not that I’m saying that it’s an especially onerous walk – it’s quite pleasant in fact, as all you need do once leaving the station is cross over Putney Bridge itself and descend into Bishops Park, which then allows you to do something that you very rarely get to do when going to football, which is take a walk by the river. That being said, this particular walk will take you a good 10-15 minutes and (as I found out) is not to be advised for an evening game as the river path has no lighting at all.
Anything else?: The route between Putney Bridge and East Putney is one of only two points where the Underground network crosses over the River Thames rather than under it, the other being between Gunnersbury and Kew Gardens, also on the District Line.
One of the joys of supporting a London club is the presence in our nation’s capital of so many Premier and Football League clubs, which brings about a significant number of derbies. There are six London clubs in the 2012-13 Premier League, so out of a total of 760 games to be played, 60 of them (or nearly 8%) will be London derbies. All of this means that there are many opportunities for the gaining of bragging rights for me this season. Which takes me to derby number seven so far, and the scene of yet another memorable away day trip as I make the relatively short journey to Arsenal.
Date: 23rd January 2013
Stadium: Emirates Stadium
Away Section: Clock End
Score: Arsenal 5-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: Holloway Road, Drayton Park or Arsenal
Local rozzers: Metropolitan Police
Total Travel Cost: N/A – Zone 1-2 Travelcard
Piccadilly Line – Earls Court to Arsenal (1973 Stock)
21:47 – Highbury & Islington to Dalston Junction (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)
21:55 – Dalston Junction to New Cross Gate (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)
Station to Stadium: The Emirates Stadium is located on Drayton Park on a triangular piece of land with a railway station and two tube stations forming the three points. However, the eponymous Drayton Park is not open on match days, while Holloway Road has severe restrictions on it, which means that the closest is Arsenal tube station, which is literally a hop, skip and jump away from the ground – exit the station and simply turn right, and then left, following the road around, until you reach Highbury House, which contains the club offices, then up and over the bridge across the Northern City Line where you find yourself on the plaza outside the stadium.
Unlike many stadia, getting away does not necessarily involve going to the same station, which is useful for me. Rather than going back the way you came to Arsenal, go in thesame direction as you came, following Drayton Park (past the railway station), until you come to the Holloway Road, and then turn left, walking right down to the end until you get to Highbury & Islington station.
Anything else?: Gillespie Road tube station opened in 1906. Following a campaign by then manager Herbert Chapman, in 1932 Gillespie Road was renamed as Arsenal, making it the only underground station named for a football club.
When it comes to trekking around the country, there are certain things one has to take into account, with perhaps the most obvious one being “how far do I exactly have to go?”. The benefit of taking the train is of course obvious, because it takes a hell of a lot less time to get somewhere by train (usually) than it does on the road, not least because the driver doesn’t have to keep stopping, and that the weary passenger can at least have a wander up and down the length of the train, should he so choose. Believe me, being cooped up on a coach travelling virtually the length of England (been there, done that, had the bad knees to prove it) is not something I’d wish on someone I didn’t like. Well, actually I might, if I particularly didn’t like him. As it is, I don’t have to get up at stupid o’clock for this trip; merely going to work o’clock, as I journey up to the north-east for the game against Sunderland.
Date: 12th January 2013
Stadium: Stadium of Light
Away Section: North Stand
Score: Sunderland 3-0 West Ham United
Nearest station: St Peter’s or Stadium of Light
Local rozzers: Northumbria Police
Total Travel Cost: £87.40p (2 x Advance Singles, 1 x Daysaver)
08:33 – New Cross to London Bridge (Southeastern Class 376 Electrostar)
08:45 (Dep 08:47) – London Bridge to London St Pancras (First Capital Connect Class 377 Electrostar)
09:30 – London Kings Cross to Newcastle Central (East Coast InterCity 125 High Speed Train)
Green Line – Central Station to Stadium of Light (TWM Metrocar)
Green Line – Stadium of Light to Central Station (TWM Metrocar)
18:04 (Dep 18:18) – Newcastle Central to London Kings Cross (East Coast InterCity 125 High Speed Train)
Victoria Line – Kings Cross St Pancras to Highbury & Islington (2009 Stock)
22:25 – Highbury & Islington to New Cross Gate (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)
Station to Stadium: The Stadium of Light appears at first glance to be one of those new stadia that have been built with ease of access in mind, being, as it is, not too far from the city centre, good road access and two nearby metro stations. That being said though, reaching the ground from self-said metro stations (or at least the one that bears the name of the stadium) is a little more difficult than you may give credit for. Even though you can see the prominent cantilever roof of the North and West stands as you exit the station, using the main road is likely to take longer than following the little back street that I used. Cross the main Newcastle Road and you’ll see, cutting through a row of terraced houses, what looks almost like an alleyway. Up this and turn left, and then keep going straight on following the road round until you come out at the Southwick Road, and there in front of you will be the ground.
Anything else?: The ground is served by both Stadium of Light and St Peter’s metro stations – they are sited so that supporters for the northern end of the ground should get off at Stadium of Light, and those at the southern end should use St Peter’s.
It’s been a while since I’ve headed out of London, and when it comes to going to football I do have a tendency to get slightly itchy feet if I miss a few away games. As it happens, the first half of this season has only seen me make three away trips up to now, and two of those have actually been in London. Which is why it is nice to actually get out of the big smoke and on a nice journey out, this time to the West Midlands and the scene of one of my most memorable previous away trips, West Bromwich Albion.
Date: 16th December 2012
Stadium: The Hawthorns
Away Section: Smethwick End
Score: West Bromwich Albion 0-0 West Ham United
Nearest station: The Hawthorns
Local rozzers: West Midlands Police
Total Travel Cost: £31.40 (1 x Super Off-Peak Return; 1 x Anytime Single; 1 x Metro Single)
11:40 – New Cross to Canada Water (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)
Jubilee Line – Canada Water to Baker Street (1996 Stock)
Bakerloo Line – Baker Street to Marylebone (1972 Stock)
12:33 – London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street (Chiltern Railways Class 168 Clubman)
14:45 – Birmingham Moor Street to The Hawthorns (London Midland Class 172 Turbostar)
Line 1 – The Hawthorns to Snow Hill (Midland Metro T-69)
18:40 (Dep 18:45) – Birmingham Snow Hill to London Marylebone (Chiltern Railways Class 168 Clubman)
Hammersmith & City Line – Baker Street to Whitechapel (C69/77 Stock)
21:30 – Whitechapel to New Cross (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)
Station to Stadium: This is not a route to The Hawthorns that I had taken before, as I usually go from Nottingham via Birmingham New Street, which means that I tend to get off at Smethwick Rolfe Street and walk. However, The Hawthorns station is so much nearer to the ground that I’m sorely tempted to forego my previous decision, walk the short distance from New Street to Birmingham Moor Street and catch a train from there. It literally is a case of leaving the station to find yourself on the Middlemore Road, from where you can see the stadium at the top of the hill – walk along the road and you’ll see a sign for away fans, which takes you up a (slightly meandering) path right into the away end. Job done.
Anything else?: The Hawthorns station was a matchday only halt between 1931 and 1968, when it closed. The current station opened in 1995 as part of the project to bring a light rail system to the West Midlands. The light rail platforms opened along with the rest of the Midland Metro in 1999.