5.19pm. Aston station, Birmingham. John Mayer ‘Vultures’
On sunday morning I left my digs in Arnos Grove, London to head to Birmingham to catch the Aston Villa vs Manchester United game at Villa Park.
I set off at 7am and made the 30 minute tube journey to Victoria coach station where I then caught a coach to Birmingham, getting in at 1130am. I had wanted to have a quick bite to eat in Brum but after checking on the stadium location it was made clear that it wasn’t within walking distance from the city.
It was also pouring rain and freezing as well by this point so i was getting a bit drenched.
I ventured around the Bull Ring shopping centre and finally found a bus, the 7A Football Special (coincidence or not but my old high school bus in Brisbane was the 7A) the lady said it was 2£ but you had to have correct change so she just let me ride it. It was all a bit of a shambles really in terms of communication which was worse coming back but I’ll go into that later.
I caught the bus down the road to the Trinity Rd side and walked through a rubbish filled car park along with all the other punters and finally saw the stadium’s typical English shed like structure…. Just gorgeous!
I walked around the stadium twice, soaking up the atmosphere, taking pics and talking to police and punters.
I loved seeing the bike rack that was made available to fans who chose public transport to the match. What a creative idea to get fans active as well as cut down on match day private transport use.
I finally went inside and starving I ordered a serve of curry chips and a plastic bottle of beer. With the match day programme in hand and a full belly I took up my seat in the Holte Stand.
When I got to my seat I was stoked to learn that I was sitting next to 83 year old Janice, a life long Villa supporter who has been coming to games since she was 7 so since 1937! Just amazing. Janice and I chatted all afternoon about her love for the club and how this was her once monthly treat to come to the football. It was sad to hear that she comes to games by herself as a result of the passing of her husband but I’m glad I could keep her company for a few hours.
United won the match through 2 strikes to Wellbeck and one to Cleverley and then I was on my way back to Aston station and onto Birmingham new street. The communications and management of the stadium left a lot to be desired however as there was no real plan in place with signage or stewards to let people know where to go to get back to the city centre. At this stage it was 430pm and with the trains no where in sight and the line not moving I was getting slightly worried that I’d miss my coach back to London. I ran the 3km back to the city (luckily in the right direction) and made the coach to London with 8 minutes to spare.
Arriving back in London at 830pm and then back out to my digs by 10pm, I was in bed by 11 all set for the big day at QPR tomorrow.