Football’s Best Away Days
Football away day culture has been a prominent movement in Britain since the 1970s when die-hard fans would devote the weekends to following their favoured team to various corners of the country to watch them play, preferring the grassroots version to the emerging luxury of football on Sky Sports TV. Today we are honouring those who are an active part of this culture and love their designer brands by considering the best trips in the game right now, taking into account a whole host of different- and sometimes obscure- factors into consideration.
Grounds like Anfield and Old Trafford are the most iconic in the country and are steeped in tradition; these are always the fixtures away fans look for when their team’s campaign begins, but does it mean they are the best away day?
Terrace Casuals- In a bid to avoid attention from rival fans and police, devoted fans would dress in neutral colours and smart designer clothing, which is where this- sometimes negatively portrayed- term came from.
Arsenal – The Emirates Stadium
The Gunners’ home is the epitome of modern football super stadiums; with 60,000 seats it is the third biggest domestic ground in the UK after Manchester United’s Old Trafford and Celtic Park in Scotland. But unlike these older grounds, the Emirates has been kitted out with all the mod cons including luxury, spacious seats. Is there any wonder they have the most expensive matchday ticket in the country?
Wembley – “The National Home of Football”
It doesn’t matter who you support, every fan savours a trip to our nation’s home of football where cup finals, play-offs and of course England matches are all played out. Most fans love a trip down to London anyway to visit teams like Fulham, Chelsea, Crystal Palace or West Ham, because the hustle and bustle of the capital combined with a thriving pub culture make for a great atmosphere, but it is the sheer size of Wembley and walking down Wembley Way on match day that makes it feel like a big adventure, and it’s a rare experience for fans of most teams. People were worried that it’d lose its sense of tradition when the old one was replaced by the new one, but it has the best facilities and entertainment in the country so the permanent buzz around the ground means it is still the special occasion for any fan.
FC Barcelona – The Nou Camp – Overseas Trip
Nestled into the ground in the middle of one of Spain’s most prominent cities, the Nou Camp is truly a spectacle to behold. Its unique architecture seats an enormous 99,000 fans in a dome-shaped stadium with an open-air layout. The pitch itself actually lies below ground level with half of the stadiums capacity sat underground to support the structure. It is totally unique and worth seeing for this reason alone, however, a weekend in the Catalan region’s capital allows for a much more diverse cultural experience with the chance to see famous tourist sites like “las Ramblas” whilst you’re there too. Added to the fact you get a weekend of good weather and the chance to see one of the world’s best players, Lionel Messi, this is a trip worth making for any football fan. Be warned though, not many away fans see their team succeed here.
Sheffield United – Bramall Lane
You are probably wondering why League One side Sheffield United’s ground is on a list with the likes of those above but many people won’t realise that Bramall Lane is a historic British stadium because it is the oldest major ground in the UK having being developed initially an astonishing 159 years ago in 1855. In the past, it has hosted major events such as the FA Cup Final, England international matches in both cricket and football, as well as iconic music events. Its 32,000 capacity is huge for a League One side and lower league fans relish a visit as it always boasts a strong attendance and atmosphere. Added to this, Sheffield is a city that loves its football and the derby with Sheffield Wednesday is still one of the biggest in UK football despite their lowly league statuses.
Morecambe FC- The Globe Arena
Even more obscure is the inclusion of Morecambe on a definitive guide to the best away days in football, but then only those who have been will know the unique appeal of this fixture. The small Lancashire seaside town of Morecambe and its local club have played at the Globe Arena since only 2010 and they seat a modest 6000 fans (on a good day), added to which they have never played above the fourth tier of English football. It’s fair to say they are a true minnow of the game and the prospect of travelling to play there may not excite many away fans, but one factor which makes this ground worth a visit is that they have mastered one of the most important considerations for an away fan- match day pie. Morecambe have been awarded the British Pie Award for “Best Pie in Football” – the second time in four years now. Their pies are so good in fact, they are now being sold in Harrod’s of London, so if that doesn’t make it worth a visit then what else will?
The “Family Friendly” Away Day
Norwich City and Fulham FC are traditionally known as “family clubs”- whatever that actually means. Both have overachieved on the pitch in recent years by competing with the bigger name teams and their fans have become well known as friendly and welcoming. Their quirky atmospheric grounds put on entertainment such as face painting, competitions and magicians, so you could say there is something for everyone.
What would be your ideal away day?
Football’s best away days is a very subjective debate and people value different qualities on their ideal weekend trip, the result might be the biggest factor! Traditional football fans might value the passion of Leeds or Millwall and their intimidating grounds on match day for example, and some may prefer grassroots football where you can relate to players you are paying to watch rather than the Premier League prima donnas.
Get the look: the football away fan
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