Opponents: Stoke City
Date: Saturday 11 August
Post code for sat-nav: ST4 4EG
Perched on top of a hill on the site of the former Hem Heath Colliery, the white steel structure that encases the home of Stoke City Football Club, the bet365 Stadium is no longer a relative newcomer to the stadia history books, having been opened 21 years ago.
Costing just shy of £15 million to construct and part-financed by a £3 million grant from the Football Trust, the stadium was the product of a move – another of which the Taylor Report was a catalyst – that saw the Potters leave their Victoria Ground home of 119 years which, at the time of its demolition, was the oldest operational stadium in the Football League. Initially named ‘The Britannia Stadium’ after the building society that helped plans become reality, the ground was renamed in 2016 after a six-year sponsorship deal with bet365 was agreed.
The inaugural season at their new base was met with disaster after the Potters were relegated from Division One following former players Chris Kamara, and later Alan Durban’s failure to turn the club’s fortunes around in their shorts stints at the helm.
In this, a Championship season littered with former Premier League members, the 30,089 capacity is dwarfed by the likes of Villa Park and Elland Road, yet the appearance of the two-decade-old structure is impressive and is designed in a such a way so as not to develop into a soulless bowl. As part of continued rejuvenation, the club had planned to continue their long-term task of replacing each seat in the stadium this summer but plans were stopped in their tracks in June when German supplier Stechert went into insolvency, forcing the Q-Railing Stand’s – on the ground’s west side – to go unchanged.
This will be just the fourth occasion on which the Bees have visited the bet365 Stadium, having lost all three previous games, the latest of which was a 3-2 Division Two defeat in November 2001. Ben Burgess and Lloyd Owusu had twice hauled the Bees into contention, but Sergei Shtaniuk netted an 80th minute winner to seal all three points.
Did you know?
Stoke legend Sir Stanley Matthews’ ashes are buried deep beneath the centre circle at the bet365 Stadium. The former outside right – who prolonged his playing career until he was 50 – had officially opened the stadium in 1997, three years prior to his death, aged 85.
How to get there
Leave the M6 at Junction 15 and then go straight across the roundabout onto the A500 towards Stoke. Continue along the A500 passing the junction with the A34 and leave the A500 at the slip road following signs for the A50 towards Derby. At the top of the slip road turn right at the roundabout (still A50) then move into the second from left lane (signposted Bet365 Stadium), where you can see the stadium over on your right. Turn right at the top of the slip road and then right at the next roundabout for the stadium.
Parking areas can be found in the stadium’s large car parks and a space for the afternoon will cost drivers £5 per car. Should you fail to find room there, the surrounding areas offer plenty of alternatives, particularly on Stanley Matthews Way. The local Power League five-a-side venue is a handy spot to leave vehicles for a small fee, while the same can be said for Longton Rugby Club on Eastern Rise. Various sites close to the club’s former home – the Victoria Ground – are also off-the-beaten-track locations, while the Screwfix site a few minutes’ walk from the bet365 boasts around 300 weekend parking spaces.
Travel to Stoke by train is almost as stress-free as it comes. Jump on at London Euston and arrive at Stoke-on-Trent station in a journey time of between 90 minutes and two hours, with not a single change along the way. For the bargain hunters, the cheapest tickets the thetrainline.com are currently offering come as two singles for £33.00 for adults and £16.50 for children, though off-peak returns on the day will set you back just £41.00 for adults and £20.50 for adults.
Where to eat/drink
The bet365 Stadium is set just a few minutes out of Stoke-on-Trent city centre and, as such, means supporters may prefer to take in the sights prior to making their way to the stadium via taxi closer to kick-off. Built adjacent to the A50, there is both a Holiday Inn and a Harvester close just metres away from Stoke’s home and both allow away fans, while the aforementioned Power League is another option. Local police often direct fans from the train station to the Venue Bar and the Terrace Bar on Leek Road. A shuttle bus to the stadium stops outside the latter, leaving for the match around an hour prior to kick-off and returning after the full-time whistle. A pre-match novelty worth checking out is the pair of canal boats moored on the canal behind the main stand; one sells local oatcake, while the other stocks cheap alcohol as well as tea, coffee and more. The latter is aptly named ‘Barge-Inn Booze’ and, with a five-star average review on Trip Advisor, you can’t go wrong!
Tickets for Saturday's trip to Stoke City are on General Sale now, priced at £25 adults, £19 seniors, £15 Under-16s, and £12 Under-11s. Get your tickets online here
*Be aware, we have been advised by Stoke that there will be NO Pay on the Day and any Brentford fans without tickets will not be able to buy to enter the ground. Advanced sales end at 4pm on Friday with matchday collections available on the day at the Bet 365 Stadium.