Football fans don’t see stadia like this every week. Featuring four independent stands – including the famed Holte End and its iconic brick-built façade – Villa Park is the largest of the six stadiums in the West Midlands and one of the UK’s best known.
Opened in 1897 - some 13 years after the club’s foundation – the stadium has gone through various guises to reach its current state; its final renovations were completed in 2001 when Prince Charles did as his grandfather King George had done over three-quarters of a century earlier and opened the newly-built Trinity Road stand. Those renovations mean that today, a maximum of 42,682 fans can watch Steve Bruce’s men, a number that is dwarfed by the stadium’s record attendance from March 1946, when 76,588 spectators piled in to see Villa’s FA Cup sixth round tie against Derby County.
Away fans are housed on one side of the Doug Ellis Stand, which runs parallel to the pitch and can hold 2,972; Brentford have received an initial allocation of 1,350 tickets as they head north searching to build on successive draws at Villa Park.
Did you know?
Since hosting Tottenham’s 4-0 FA Cup semi-final win over West Bromwich Albion in 1901, Villa Park held the event on 54 further occasions until 2007 – more than any other ground in the country – before the showpiece returned to Wembley a year later.
Despite its location, the journey from London Euston to Witton – just over a quarter of a mile from the ground - is just 1h 44m in duration and though, at the time of writing, offers on the trainline.com price the return journey for an adult at £27.50, a Super Off-Peak Return comes in at a reasonable £35 for adults and £17.50 for children.
There is only one service back to Euston from Witton post-match which departs at 10.40pm and arrives into London at 1.13am on Thursday morning. The last services from Birmingham Moor Street back to Euston depart at 10.10pm and 11.10pm.
The journey by road is relatively simple and takes around two to three hours, depending on traffic in the Birmingham area; join the M4 in Brentford at Lionel Road South and join the M40 via the M25. At junction 3A, join the M42, merge onto the M6 and leave again at junction 5 (due to weekend roadworks) as you approach Birmingham. Use the postcode B6 6HE which will take you to the ground, but be mindful that parking at Villa Park is not allowed without a matchday permit. The club’s official website lists the following official parking sides on the north side of the stadium: Brookvale Road car park, Birmingham City University and Broadway School. And on the south side of the stadium: Powerleague, Star City (free), Aston Social Club, Aston Tower School and King Edward School.
Where to eat/drink
The most convenient pub for away fans is probably the pub previously known as the Cap and Gown – now the Witton Arms - which is just a stone’s throw from the Doug Ellis Stand, though the payment of an entry fee might deter potential customers. Nonetheless, there are plenty of pubs in the surrounding area including the Hare of the Dog, which is close to Birmingham City University, the Grade II listed Barton’s Arms on High Street Aston or, should you arrive into Birmingham New Street railway station, the Shakespeare arms, adjacent to the main entrance, has previously proved a hit with travelling supporters. It’s worth taking note that alcohol is only served in the lower tier of the stand in which Brentford fans will be situated.
Tickets for Wednesday's visit to Aston Villa go off sale tomorrow afternoon. Click here for more information and to buy online.