Part of a densely-populated area of England and thus a football hotbed, the Hawthorns is one of a number of famous stadiums in the West Midlands.
As the famous old home of West Bromwich Albion Football Club since 1900, the Hawthorns has seen thousands of games with not just West Brom matches but also internationals and FA Cup semi-finals having taken place here.
Given West Brom’s various close rivalries, the Hawthorns has been the setting for some classic derby games against Aston Villa, Birmingham City and of course Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Hawthorns sits just in the south-east of the town, around 1½ miles from the very centre of West Bromwich.
History of the Hawthorns Stadium
The Hawthorns became West Bromwich Albion’s sixth home venue when it was built, while it also had the distinction of being the first football stadium in England to be completed in the 20th century when it was finished in early 1900.
Initially capable of holding 35,000 people, the Hawthorns was extended a number of times in the early days. The first 50,000+ crowd came in 1923 when the team hosted Sunderland, while in 1925 more than 60,000 watched Albion play Villa.
It wasn’t until 1937 that the record crowd of 64,000 squeezed in for an FA Cup game, but things began to go down gradually from there.
The subsidence in attendance was of course exacerbated by the Taylor Report when the ground had to be turned into an all-seated venue but despite crowds these days being closer to 20,000 the atmosphere famously remains booming and tumultuous here.
In fact, the Hawthorns was rated by a football magazine in 2017 to be the best English league stadium of all, purely because of its atmosphere.
With West Brom remaining the classic yo-yo club, constantly being relegated from and promoted to the Premier League, expansion plans seem unlikely. Putting the obsession of getting huge crowds into modern football stadiums aside however, the Hawthorns remains one of the favourite venues for visiting supporters anywhere in Britain.
The Hawthorns has changed a lot over the years, but looks like this these days:
- Capacity: 26,688
- Record Attendance: 64,815 for an FA Cup match between West Brom and Arsenal in 1937. In the all-seater era, the Baggies’ game against Portsmouth in the Premier League in 2005 was the best attended at 27,751
- Pitch: 105m x 68m, made up of a Desso GrassMaster playing surface
- Stands: West Stand, Birmingham Road End, Smethwick End and the East Stand. The Birmingham Road End includes the popular Woodman Corner while the East Stand is considered the main stand. The famous statue of Tony ‘Bomber’ Brown also stands outside of here.
Memorable Games at the Hawthorns
This is a famous old stadium, so the great games here are almost too numerous to count. At the risk of leaving out some classics however, these really stand out:
- West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Valencia
This UEFA Cup last-16 victory meant a 3-1 aggregate win, a match that ranks among the biggest ever achievements at the Hawthorns ever.
- West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Swansea
Back in 1993, Albion needed to beat Swansea in the play-offs to keep their promotion hopes alive. Having been beaten 2-1 in the first leg, the side made the most of a hugely raucous atmosphere to claim a 2-0 win and head off to Wembley for the final.
- West Bromwich Albion 4-1 West Ham
Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, Albion had their work cut out in the second leg of the 1966 League Cup semi-final.
Tony ‘Bomber’ Brown, Clive Clarke, Graham Williams and John Kaye all scored as the Baggies rolled over the Hammers to reach the final in some style.
- West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Portsmouth
This is what proper support is all about. While some stadiums are full for the top of the table games, Albion’s record modern attendance was set when they faced a real relegation scrap against Pompey in 2005.
Until this point, no team had been bottom of the Premier League at Christmas and survived, yet Albion was one win away from achieving the feat and achieve it they did.
Goals from Geoff Horsfield and Kieron Richardson proved enough as a late equaliser for Crystal Palace against Charlton proved enough for the Baggies to stay up.
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