Address: The Hawthorns, Halfords Lane, West Bromwich, West Midlands, B71 4LF
Telephone: 0871 271 1100
What’s It Like
Swans fans are on one side of the Smethwick End, which is shared with home supporters. The facilities and the view of the pitch in the Smethwick end are OK, although the leg room is cramped. The concourse at the back is pretty small, so it can be a bit squashed. The turnstiles have automatic bar code readers, with stewards on hand if you have problems.
Visiting the Midlands
Birmingham is the second largest UK city, and has a multitude of eating and drinking places to suit every appetite. Ethnic food is highly popular and every region of Asia is represented in its restaurants. Birmingham has loads of museums, art galleries and theatres.
Although miles from the sea, Birmingham has a National Sea Life Centre (B1 2HL). Tickets for Sea Life Birmingham bought online can mean savings of up to 40%. On-line it’s from £12.50 and entry for kids under 3’s is free. (Entry to the 4-D cinema is included). It’s open 10am-6pm and has a soft play area too.
The Thinktank is at the Birmingham Science Museum (B4 7AP) has various outer space based activities.
Cadbury World is open 10-3 in the week. Prices are £16.75 for adults, £12.30 for kids (under 4’s free), with Family tickets (2+2 £49.96) and (2+3 £59.95).
Unfortunately, the close by Drayton Manor Theme Park isn’t open until half tewrm week, a couple of weeks after the game.
The ELO Experience is on at the Solihull Arts Complex (B91 3RG) on Wednesday and Thursday night, tickets are £21. A bit further afield on Wednesday night brings ‘An Evening with Ian McCulloch’ (Echo & The Bunnymen frontman) to ‘The Robin 2’ (WV14 7LJ). Tickets are £18.50 in advance, £20 on the night.
StarCity (B7 5SA) has a Vue cinema, ten pin bowling, mini golf, laser station, a football centre, gym, casino, a climbing centre. It’s really close to the motorway and a place where quite a number of hours can be spent.
Pubs and Grub
There are no away fans pubs close to the ground. For a great pub and amazing Indian food, head to ‘The Vine’ (B70 8DB). There’s street parking in the area and it’s a 15 minute walk to the ground. You need to be there a good 2 hours before kick-off as it gets mentally busy in there. That tells you all you need to know about how good the food is there. ‘Desi Junction’ pub (B70 6PB) is close by too. ‘The Park Inn’ (B70 6RS) is a 10 minute walk to the ground. Their car park is £5 and away fans are welcome. There’s also plenty of street parking around the area of the hotel to save a fiver. The ‘Royal Oak’ (B71 3RQ) has good beer they also serve Asian food.
A little further afield and en-route is ‘Manchester Stores’ (B69 2AS), just off J2 of the M5. It’s a lively pub that does regular pub grub. Alcohol is also available within the ground along with burgers, a range of pies, sausage rolls and pasties. You’ll have to smuggle in McDonalds food from the local outlet as it’s not allowed in the ground.
From this year, there’s a new ‘Fan Zone’ across the road from the ground on the corner of Halfords Lane and Birmingham Road. It has live music, a large screen showing sport, plus food and drink is sold welcoming away fans
You do need to be off the M5 before 17:30. If not it could take an hour to do the last mile on the M5. There is street parking or a few private match-day car parks at local industrial units near the ground, or at Hawthorns station for around £5. One such place is The Beeches Road Methodist Church (B70 6QE). It has CCTV and is a ten minute walk away and easy to get onto the M5 after the match.
Train and Metro
The closest stations are The Hawthorns (5 minute walk) and Smethwick Rolfe Street, (15 minute walk). The Hawthorns is served by a Metro service from Birmingham Snow Hill station, whilst Smethwick Rolfe Street is served by trains from Birmingham New Street. The Metro service takes 8 minutes to the Hawthorns from Birmingham Snow Hill and trains run every 15 minutes.
Train tickets are not valid on the Metro and you have to buy a separate ticket for it (ask for a matchday special adult return). Birmingham Snow Hill station is signposted from Birmingham New Street and is a 10 minute walk away. On Halford Lane just below the train/metro stop is a chip shop called the Hawthrones (it is spelt incorrectly). Fish and chips cost are cheap and are of good quality and it also serves pies and kebabs.
Trains leave from Swansea at 12:28, 12:54, 13:28, 13:55, 14:28, and 14:55 arrive at The Hawthornes 3 and a half hours later. There are no trains back to Swansea from either The Hawthornes or Smethwick Rolfe Street after the game. Hotels near the ground are the Park Inn Hotel (mentioned earlier) and Park Inn, Birmingham West. Birmingham itself has loads of hotels.
For the Travelling Jacks making the trip – Be Loud, Be Proud and Be Positive!