There’s a host of different ways for Villans to experience match day. We take a look at some of the experiences undertaken by the faithful.
Words by Alan Wilson | @VILLAlan54
With the excitement of a new Premier League season just around the corner, we take a look at the various means by which the Aston Villa faithful get to B6 – and what they do when they arrive at what for many is their second home – Villa Park.
Looking at the advanced season ticket sales numbering around the 30,000 mark, plus a host of Claret Members and Villa Cubs – not to mention the away following from visiting clubs – there is no doubt that Villa Park will be close to capacity at 42,000 for almost every home game of the 19/20 season.
So what will these marauding Aston Villa fans do when they arrive at B6, and what are some of their traditions on a match day?
By far the biggest numbers still arrive by car. Incredibly, despite arriving in their tens of thousands, most still manage to park up somewhere legally.
Rare are the occasions now when an announcement blares over the PA system reading out the make, model and registration number of a vehicle that should be ”moved immediately”.
Depending on the direction in which Villa’s motoring fans are arriving from, they have a choice of arriving up to two hours before kick-off to find free ‘on street’ parking, or within an hour of kick-off to squeeze into the many temporary car parks near to the stadium for a five or six pound fee.
For disabled Villa fans, there are car parks in the immediate vicinity of the stadium whereby after pre-paying between £150 and £300 for the season, they can park directly behind the Holte End, North Stand, or in one of three or four designated car-parks adjacent to Villa Park.
There are of course, still thousands of fans arriving by train into both Witton and Aston stations. The rail networks run regular services into these stations from Birmingham New Street which have passengers travelling in from stations such as Tamworth and Redditch.
Hundreds still use buses and pre-booked coaches to get from almost every corner of Birmingham and the greater West Midlands area.
So what do these tens of thousands of fans do upon arrival, up to two or even three hours before the Aston Villa players come running onto the hallowed turf?
Season ticket holders can gain access to The Holte Suite, which is under the stand, or the old Holte Pub where hundreds enjoy a pre-match drink or a cooked meal for under £10. This is a hugely popular choice and the numbers are strictly controlled by doormen employed by the club. There are also pubs and clubs, like the Aston Social, that open their doors to Villa fans usually for a small fee – where chanting of Villa songs and high spirits can be overheard in the surrounding streets.
Then of course there are the Corporate facilities, whereby for an annual membership starting from around £3,000 plus, supporters can enjoy a three-course meal served to their table in The McGregor Suite, or the 1874 Lounge.
For those who want more, Aston Villa offer Executive boxes which will include meals, drinks and hospitality throughout the match, although these luxury facilities will cost upwards of £10,000 to £15,000 or more per season. This is a vital area of the clubs strategy and Villa Park offers some of the finest experiences in English football.
For the most part, the away fans arrive on coaches and have a designated coach park adjacent to the North Stand/Doug Ellis Stand at the Witton end of Villa Park.
Most Villa fans will tell you that they have been meeting their friends in a time honoured traditional fashion that is unique to them, for many years. Whether, by sharing car journeys, public transport or a bit of a stroll from the immediate area, some 40,000 loyal fans will go in and out their regular haunts and of course Villa Park, every other weekend during the forthcoming football season.
How do you do a match day? Let us know in the comments below.