Arsenal - A Vital Guide To.....The Britannia Stadium
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A Vital Guide To.....The Britannia Stadium

Where next? Stoke City`s Britannia Stadium.

Where are we seated? In the South Stand, or Marston`s Pedigree Stand. We will receive an allocation of 2,800 tickets priced at £39 each. As ever, it`s completely sold out.

What`s It Like? The Britannia is only 15 years old, but it`s dated very quickly. All but one corner is completely open and there are nowt but fields surrounding the stadium, so even the slightest flutter of breeze is likely to turn your Southern, shandy drinking bones to ice. Aesthetically, the stadium is rather identikit to the other mid 90s built offerings such as Pride Park, Riverside, The Den and the Liberty Stadium. However, the fact that the stadium encourages unfavourable conditions and isn`t to the taste of architectural aesthetes plugs right into Stoke`s identity.

Roads around the stadium are named after famous ex players. The ground itself is on Stanley Matthews Way, with Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton lending their names to roads on the approach to the stadium too. A nice touch, it has to be said. There is even an erection of three Stanley Matthews statues outside the ground, facing towards the old Victoria Ground, where Matthews played for 19 years across two spells.

It`s the supporters that give the ground its real character though. The views are generally very good with the cantilevered stands the newer grounds give you. Being stationed directly behind the goal gives you an ideal view of all the shirt pulling Stoke players do at setpieces and you can watch on in bafflement as the official sees it all but does the square root of sod all about it. Or else you can enjoy the view I`ve had the pleasure of on many occasions as Fabianski / Almunia conduct wayward Superman impressions as Delap tosses another missile towards your goal.

What are the facilities like? Adequate. The concourses are roomy in the South Stand and the selection of food and beer is decent by football ground standards. (That`s to say, you can get a pint of bitter and it`s not John Smith`s). There`s plenty of room in your seats and access for disabled supporters is also very good. As a result of their, ahem, "boisterous" fanbase, the architects of the ground thoughtfully caged off the entrance to the away end to save you from a shower of spittle and invective as you access / egress the ground. How lovely. Be sure to smile and wave as your bus out of the ground takes you past a baying hoard of ogling locals.

What are the home fans like? The Britannia is one of the few Premier League grounds left that wantonly provides an intimidating atmosphere. Whether that will begin to evaporate as Stoke increasingly establish themselves as a Premiership club remains to be seen. Certainly Fratton Park was a cauldron of noise for Pompey`s first three years in the top flight only for it to dwindle under the lights of expectation and complacency.

Stoke fans have an attitude one might describe as Millwall-esque. It`s not so much that no one likes them and they don`t care, more that no one likes them and that`s exactly how they like it. The siege mentality pens itself into the ground from every corner. It has to be said, Pulis, as much as I`d like to dance on his face in Cuban heels, has excellently tapped into the home support and given them an identity that they have revelled in. Stoke supporters are the closest thing the Premier League has to the 12th man.

However, there are elements of oxygen thievery present. Away to my left in February 2010, it was by no means a minority of Stoke fans in the South End that made sickening gestures as Ramsey lay with his leg in tatters. The fact that Ramsey was booed upon his return there last season is a lesson in classlessness that would make a Chelsea fan spit his pint of wife beater out in amazement. It is necessary for the police to pen away fans in in the way they do. There is quite a bit of Burberry and Hackett to be seen in Stoke on a matchday if you catch my middle class, white bred drift. Avoid wearing colours unless you`re on official club travel.

How to get there? Like most newly built grounds, Stoke`s ground is a good two miles away from the main train station. There are shuttle buses that run pretty regularly from the station to the ground. You can get a return train ticket from Euston for £24 if you opt for the Midland Super off Peak Return, which is an open ended return ticket.

In terms of parking, there is parking available at the stadium but I believe you have to book in advance. Otherwise, some pubs near the stadium allow parking (at a charge of about £5). Best place to park is probably the Screwfix Direct site on Stanley Matthews Way. Park anywhere else and you face a lung bursting uphill walk as the Britannia is set on a hilltop.

Any historical landmarks? The Stanley Matthews statue is worth a visit next to the stadium. There is nothing left of the club`s old Victoria Ground. It was demolished and nothing has been done with the space at all; it is merely an empty wasteland. (The next line writes itself surely?)

As for historical landmarks in Stoke. Errrrrrr, Errrrrrm. It`s not really that sort of place. Though if you walk around long enough, you might get an idea what it would have been like to live in pre industrial Britain.

Where to drink? The stadium is set in a pretty lifeless part of the town. Which is saying something. Pubs are few and far between. Fortunately, the Harvester pub nearest the ground does allow away fans in, though it`s probably best not to make it too obvious to the punters that you are an away fan. So when you`re at the bar, don`t go bellowing, "Ore woite gewl? 'Arf a lager top and daaan`t skip on the lemonade sweet`art!"

Most pubs in the town are home fans only. So even if you`re not wearing colours, an erect posture is likely to give you away. Beer is available in the South Stand concourse (since the stand is named after a nearby brewery, you`d hope so). Which is just as well. If you`re going to spend an hour and a half watching Stoke, I`d advise drinking plenty of it. LD.

NB: If you`re a Stoke fan or resident and you found any of that offensive; please, don`t waste my time or your time telling me so, because I really don`t care. Thanks.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday April 14 2012

Time: 11:00AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Very good and to the point:D
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14/04/2012 11:25:00

If only they'll do everyone a favor and simply get themselves relegated. A man can only hope. Sigh.
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14/04/2012 14:23:00

My worst nightmare.
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14/04/2012 16:41:00

I was so hoping that they would be one of the teams to go down (along with Blackburn). Off topic here but so sad to hear about Livorno player having a heart attack during a match and later dying. I know we keep being told that players are regularly checked and the best medical care is provided but more must be done.
Report Abuse
14/04/2012 17:09:00

Yeah, DBerg. Heard about that one; the games in the Italian league all suspended now. The chap is an active 26 year old and with the Muamba incident still fresh, you wonder at just what is going on.
Report Abuse
14/04/2012 18:08:00

A great review of a ground I fully intend never to visit. I admire the travelling Gooners for following the boys anywhere and everywhere, but I'd rather whack my ********* in a vice than visit The Britania.
Report Abuse
15/04/2012 14:46:00

Mhmmm. Chelsea are tearing Spurs to Shreds. Should we be worried about their visit to the Emirates? At least, we must prepare for a hard game.
Report Abuse
15/04/2012 19:43:00

It will be a tough game for sure, but Chelsea will be licking their wounds inflicted by Farcelona in mid-week. And Spurs are crap.
Report Abuse
15/04/2012 19:53:00

A rather ordinary looking side are making the Chelsea pensioners look better than they are. Chelsea is a team that knows how to win, and the complete capitulation of the hapless spuds central defensive pairing of crippled Ledley and aged Gallas makes the job easy for them
Report Abuse
15/04/2012 19:58:00

That may be right, Elbondo, but we can't rely on that for our points; I think they are a lot stronger and will give us a good game. Chelsea benefitted from a 'phantom goal' decision by the Ref.
Report Abuse
15/04/2012 20:02:00

We need to be at our best against Chelsea as we do all teams, you can't take anything for granted, but that said the Chavs were very ordinary today.
Report Abuse
15/04/2012 20:08:00

I never said it would be an easy game, quite the opposite. We will have to earn the win, but it is definitely a winnable match, surely them playing their third tough game in 8 days will take its toll on their bodies though, which should give us an advantage that we have to use. Oh, and Spurs are still crap.
Report Abuse
15/04/2012 20:26:00

Back on topic. I can tell you that these 'bluffer's guide' articles bring out a good many chuckles from me and I'd say it's a good thing Stoke fans do not have a photo of L.D. The point made about the 12th man reputation of the Brittania stadium fans took me by surprise, though, as I have always thought the Liverpool fans topped the "premiership table" for most vociferous fans and an atmospheric ground. The question I have is: why do our fans choose only the few 'special' occasions to make the Emirates stadium a difficult place to come to and fall short of driving our players on, each game? Could it be that we have a greater sense of entitlement, from years of being spoilt with silverware or is it the fact of London being the Capital with cosmo fans? Could it yet be the size of the stadium? Just asking.
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15/04/2012 20:51:00

Anfield is exactly the same as every other Premier League ground. How or why this myth about their atmosphere has been allowed to carry, I've no idea. Totally laughable. Ditto European nights. Exactly the same there as everywhere else.
Little Dutch
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15/04/2012 21:39:00

Yes, you'll notice that Liverpool's "famous atmosphere" is only ever commented on in games vs Man Utd or Barcelona or something. The best amosphere I've ever experienced was at "The Library" vs Real Madrid, absolutely rocking, it's easy to get up for the big games. I've also been to Anfield for a Liverpool match with a friend and you could have heard a pin drop.
Report Abuse
15/04/2012 23:44:00

OT : Does anyone know how to disable the ads that start playing on this site. I know its free and we need ads etc..but these ads are just plain annoying. Especially when I keep visiting this awesome place to read awesome stuff about our awesome club.
Report Abuse
16/04/2012 01:41:00

Sajit - The only thing I do is mute my laptop before logging on. I'm really sorry about the ads. They are a massive pain in the arse.
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16/04/2012 06:09:00

You can disable flashmedia on your browser...
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16/04/2012 06:58:00

Off article topic... we were absolute rubbish yesterday,Manager / Players, and were well beaten, with aid of the referee, So now there is only the PL 4th & 3rd place to fight for. So lets hope both our clubs get them, and Chavs/ barcodes do not.
Block D Spurs
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16/04/2012 07:40:00

No lover of the spuds obviously, but I thought Mike Atkinson's decision for the 2nd Chelsea goal was shocking. He's totting up some truly bad performances this season. Wenger reiterated the need for technology to help the refs only this week. its time the FA stopped playing with themselves and did something to save the reputation of the game.
Wyn Mills
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16/04/2012 10:06:00

Go onto your add-ons in the browser options lads and disable flash media. It makes Vital Football usable again. Wyn Mills: I believe FIFA are actually finally going to start implementing video technology for goal-lines as soon as this December. Thankfully.
Report Abuse
16/04/2012 14:44:00

Ooh nice suggestion. thanks everyone. I was worried whether disabling flash would make youtube unusable.. But apparently not. :).
Report Abuse
16/04/2012 15:02:00

which adverts? Without them we can't provide the sites or pay eds. If you mean the video player, there is a mute button that lasts for the session if you hover over the video being played? Give it a click whilst doing so! ;o)
Report Abuse
16/04/2012 15:15:00

Why do we have to wait for FIFA? A simple solution would be to have the 4th official watching a TV feed giving advice to the referee in situations where he was unsure or unsighted. It would barely interrupt the flow of he game, especially in cases where all the ref required was confirmation of his decision. Whats the point going to a linesman who may have less sight of a situation than the ref?
Wyn Mills
Report Abuse
16/04/2012 16:00:00

Mhmm. A Spud coming on the VA site for comfort/solace and does get it. That's one for the books (not sure which kind) o- :
Report Abuse
16/04/2012 17:23:00

Wyn mills, it works in cricket, and tennis American Football and other sports. Why we do not have this technology in PL is really unacceptable.

In respose to Naijagunner, have a look on VS and Bounce back article, see Galway Gooners posts. Well received by us.
Block D Spurs
Report Abuse
16/04/2012 18:05:00


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