Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Hawthorns – West Bromwich Albion

25th September 2013

WBA 1-1 Arsenal
(Arsenal won 4-3 on penalties)

I chose the Away Section this particular evening, for no other reason than general sale tickets became available in that area first.  And rather glad I did, for I was allowed the rare privilege of watching a match between two Premiership sides whilst standing - the Hawthorn’s stewarding staff having decided to adopt a sensibly laissez-faire approach to the standing/sitting business. 

Also adopting a laissez-faire approach I noticed were the Hawthorns’ ball-boys – there appeared to be only two or three of the little chaps dotted around the touchlines, none of whom did I see even once get up off their little stools to scurry after footballs.  Most odd.

As has generally been the case over recent years, Arsenal took the opportunity to blood a few youngsters in the League Cup (or the Capital One Cup, is it is presently being branded), although there were a smattering of first team names in the shape of Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen.  

Albion fielded what looked like a stronger side, although I was a touch disappointed to discover Morgan Amalfitano who had made hay at the expense of Paulo Di Canio the previous weekend, was only listed amongst the subs.

The home side’s plan A appeared to be to try to find Shane Long with (ahem) long balls at every opportunity, with the Arsenal pups, perhaps not surprisingly, taking a more measured approach.  And it was the latter tactic which bore fruit on the hour, when Thomas EISFELD opening the scoring.

The lead lasted only ten minutes, however; Saido BERAHINO heading an equaliser for the hosts from close in.  There was no further scoring, although the aforementioned Amalfatino, on as an extra-time replacement, did hit the Arsenal crossbar.

However, as a neutral I had no real desire to sit through the shoot-out lottery, so took the opportunity to leave the ground at full-time and miss the traffic.  Once outside, I was surprised just how many other folks of both persuasions had had the same idea.  Hence I was already on the M6 scooting north, whilst Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal was applying the coup de grace.

A word on the West Brom programme: an excellent read, with a number of well- written and equally well-researched historical articles.  The Giant Steps piece on former player Wayne Fereday, in particular, was a delight.

The Hawthorns - West Bromwich Albion FC.

The Hawthorns - West Bromwich Albion FC.

The Hawthorns - Outside the West Stand -
the little chap is peering down towards where
folks were congregating waiting for
the Arsenal team coach to arrive.

I briefly did the "Attempt to snap a player leaving the bus" thing,
but soon thought "This is silly".  I think I may have just
caught Arsenal's Ju-Young Park here.  But who knows?

The Jeff Astle gates - I always thought this was meant to
represent Astle celebrating scoring in the 1968 FA Cup Final -
but didn't Albion play in all-white that day?

Doesn't look as if there have been many banquets here of late.

The whopping edifice of the Hawthorns' Rainbow Stand

The Hawthorns' West Stand - it did fill up quite a bit.

West Brom v Arsenal - September 2013 

West Brom v Arsenal - September 2013 

No decent action pics this time around I'm afraid.  All fans in the away end were being
searched before entry, and there was no way my proper camera would have been allowed in
(a potential weapon, no doubt).  So we will have to make do with mobile phone images.

The packed Rainbow Stand

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