I am a third generation Chelsea supporter, and growing up in England means I’ve seen my fair share of Premier League (EPL) matches. As a seasoned attendee at Chelsea away games, I can share some insight into maximising your EPL experience.
At the start of the 2018/19 Premier League season, Sports Where I Am writer, Sean Brown, shared his essential tips on how EPL supporters, who are based Down Under, can buy match day tickets and avoid an EPL faux pas at the match (*cough* buying half and half scarves).
In the same spirit, here’s one of my best tips for attending EPL games:
Go to an away game for your team
Every season, thousands of overseas EPL supporters descend on English soil to watch their favourite team in action. The common choice for avid Aussie fans wanting to catch a glimpse of their team is to buy tickets to home games – which is obviously not a bad way to start. But I’m here to tell you that there is a much better way of enhancing your Premier League experience in England (and getting value for your money). Well, it’s pretty simple – go to an away game, stand in the away section and join the fans who travel up and down the country every week to see their team play. The real fans. You will not regret it.
Travelling with the fans
Most EPL clubs provide supporters with the option of subsidised travel on coaches, in particular for the longer journeys. Travelling on a train is another option, but the tickets are pricey. If you are on a budget, I would advise buying a cheap coach ticket via your team’s website and travel with the fans to the destination. Depending on where the match is being played, the coach might leave first thing in the morning, so prepare yourself for a long day. Along the way, you will have the chance to mingle with the fans who dedicate their weekends to their beloved EPL team over a pint or two on the coach. No doubt, you will be taken under their wing. There is most definitely a sense of belonging to the tribe on away trips.
Atmosphere at away games
The atmosphere in the section with the away supporters for EPL games is special. Attending most matches as a home supporter can, at times, be bland – especially at top-tier clubs such as Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester United and Manchester City. The smaller EPL teams tend to have more energy inside their stadiums on match days. It is important to note it does depend on who your team is facing that week. If your team is playing a rival club, expect the atmosphere to be livelier than most home games. Unfortunately, teams do not play their rivals every week. Here’s where the away games come in. Teams play away 19 times every season, so there are plenty of options to choose from. Consider this option – purchase away tickets to see your team compete against their main rivals. It adds more of a thrill to the occasion.
A stadium’s away section has a certain buzz to it. You are in unfamiliar territory and the opposition’s home support doesn’t like you, making a potential win on the road even sweeter. The bars inside the away section will be packed with lively fans drinking beer and singing the club’s songs, eager for the match to start. In excitement, pints of beers will be thrown in the air, leaving many drenched. Get involved and contribute towards the partisan vibes; grab a beer or soft drink and sing along with the fans before the madness on the pitch unfolds. This is only the beginning. The stands are where the real action takes place. There will be a sea of supporters piled into the away section, stacked all the way from row A to Z, with no room to spare. It is here where you will find yourself surrounded by the most vocal and passionate fans on the Premier League circuit: The away faithful standing, singing loudly and proudly, until the final whistle blows.
Going to away matches is a bug. Once you catch, you will not lose it.
James’ Top 3 Away Days Trips
Known as the Coliseum – Selhurst Park is home to Crystal Palace FC. It is one of the smaller stadiums in the EPL, with a capacity of 26,000. As they say – small things can pack a big punch. This is one of them. The Eagles’ home ground boasts one of the best atmospheres in England, if not the best. The raucous home support will leave visitors stunned and amazed – the high energy does not stop throughout the 90 minutes. The Holmesdale End is home to the club’s noisiest fans who will sing no matter what the scoreline is. As Sean Brown recommended in his EPL guides – get to the stadium early and take it all in. Selhurst Park is one of those venues. They know how to crank up the volume on match day.
St James’ Park
Home to the Newcastle United and the loyal Toon Army. The Geordies love their club; it’s like a religion up in Tyneside. The 52,000-seater stadium will be full of Newcastle supporters proudly sporting their team’s colours (black and white stripes) on match day. For away fans at St James’ Park, you will be placed up with the Gods in the Leazes stand. If Newcastle score first, expect the Toon Army to up the tempo and increase the noise inside the ground. Not to worry; you will be in good company, as the away section seats between 2,000-3000 fans. Get behind your team, cheer them on with your fans and silence the Toon Army. No matter the result, it is a cracking day out.
Of course, Anfield makes the list. Liverpool FC’s home is one of the most iconic stadiums in world football. It houses the famous Kop end, a must see for any football fan. The Kop is located directly opposite the away section. Minutes before kick-off, thousands of Liverpool supporters in the stadium will raise their red scarves and banners up high in the air as they sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Once the famous song has concluded, Anfield will erupt with the home crowd bellowing out “Come on, Liverpool”. The stage will be set. However, the away supporters will not be intimidated, they are here to see their team cause an upset and claim all three points on the road. Both sets of supporters will try and out-sing each other for the whole 90 minutes. As an away fan, you will be able to watch your favourite team play at Anfield and still get to see the Kop End in full voice at an EPL game. What more could you want on a Saturday afternoon?
Honourable mentions: Goodison Park (Everton) and Turf Moor (Burnley)
Don’t hesitate and start creating your ‘Away Days’ EPL itinerary ASAP. Away game tickets are in huge demand. For most EPL games, the away teams are only allocated a couple of thousand tickets for their fans. Grab yourself a golden ticket here.
Note: The header image for this piece was adapted from this photo.