Monday, 17th Aug 2009 22:30
Our visit to Walsall’s Bescot Stadium kicks off at 7.45 tomorrow night.
The stadium is to the south of Walsall town centre, close to the RAC Control Centre and one of the most congested stretches of motorway in the country. If you’re driving down from Leeds, you need to leave the M6 at Junction 9 and take the A461 towards Walsall. Bear right on to the A4148 (Wallowes Lane) and turn right at the second set of traffic lights. You will see the ground on your left.
There is a large car park at the ground (cost £3) and behind the away stand, which allows a relatively quick getaway after the match. Bescot Railway Station also offers car parking for £2. Alternatively there is some street parking to be had off Wallowes Lane. It looks tempting to park at the nearby Morrisons Supermarket (built on the site of the old Fellows Park), but unless you can prove that you are shopping there, you run the risk of being wheel clamped. There is free parking at Broadway Retail Park, but these car parks do take a long time to clear.
It’s not possible to get a train back to Leeds after a night match, but for the benefit of those who live a bit nearer to the West Midlands…You can get there by train by catching the local service from Birmingham New Street, but note that you have to get off at Bescot Stadium, one stop before the main Walsall station. It’s only a few minutes walk from the away turnstiles.
There aren’t too many pubs nearby, as the stadium is some way from the town centre, and surrounded by retail parks, the motorway and a large railway yard. At the stadium itself there is the Saddlers Club, which normally allows small numbers of away fans in at a cost of £1, but it remains to be seen if they will do so for our visit. The nearest pub to the ground is the King George V in Wallowes Lane, which is opposite the Morrisons Supermarket and gets rather busy on matchdays. Away fans though should avoid the Fulbrook pub. Food-wise, the best option is the Bescot Fish Bar, opposite Morrisons.
Walsall moved to the Bescot Stadium in 1990 from their former home at Fellows Park, and in 2003 they built the delightfully named ‘Floors 2 Go Purple Stand’. This is a two tiered end, which increased the capacity to 11,300. When the stadium first opened it had good modern terracing at both ends, but unfortunately under government regulations they had to go all seater a few years ago, once they had completed three seasons in the top two divisions.
Away fans usually get 2,000 seats behind one for the goals in the Homeserve Stand. It’s a bit cramped, as the seats have been bolted onto the former terracing, and there are a few supporting pillars at the front which will block the view for some of us, but at least this end is covered. And as a one-off they are also giving us the whole of the West Bromwich Building Society stand down one of the sides, so our allocation will be 4,000 places in total. The official Leeds website has announced that tickets for the away end will be on sale on the night, even to non-members, and that we have sold 2,500 tickets so far.
For the big games they usually have a large number of police on duty, which will be something to look forward to if they uphold the traditions of the West Midlands force. Alcohol is not served inside the stadium, but on the plus side, the food is OK by football standards, and they were the first club to stock Chicken Balti Pies!
Adult ticket prices are £18, with concessions £12 for those tickets bought in advance, but if you’re buying on the night you might find you’ll have to pay £2 extra.. As far as the future is concerned, the Club have announced that they have been granted planning permission to re-develop the Homeserve end of the ground. The new stand would look similar to the main home end and would add 2,300 seats to the stadium, raising the overall capacity to 13,500. It would also mean that up to 4,000 away supporters could be accommodated at that end. The back of the stand will also feature a giant advertising hoarding, clearly visible from the M6. The Club are seeking a suitable sponsor for this proposed development.
Some of this waffle comes from www.footballgroundguide.co.uk
Photo: Action Images
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