Aston Villa are a top flight club, playing in the Barclays Premier League, & I had the good fortune to visit their historic Villa Park home on a Sunday last season, for an FA Youth Cup tie versus Middlesbrough on 6th March 2011, which had a 12 noon kick off.
Despite being modernised down the years I could feel the history that permeates the place, & I was so glad I had made the effort to get up early & take the coach, for a day trip, from Victoria coach station.
The signage at the station clearly shows you are at the right place.
Walking from there to the ground there's no doubt who the clientele in this pub support.
There was a healthy sprinkling of these stickers in the vicinity, which was good to see.
Approaching the stadium there is plenty of signage.
A close up of the map on it.
The famous Holte pub, right by the ground.
And here is the facade of the Holte End, demolished a few years ago, but some it still in theo ld style. I'm not sure if it original brickwork or replica.
Looking at it face on.
The mosaiced club crest.
And stained glass windows, not too clear from here though.
The club name is also proudly displayed.
As you can see here, from the gates to the car park, club lion standing guard at the entrance.
Zooming in on one of them.
More gates further along.
The stand ahead is the Trinity Road Stand, very unusual, in that it was re-built OVER the road behind, as there was no space to built on the road itself.
The stand has this modern emblem, nothing wrong with it, but it seems a bit too plastic & modern, to me, almost cheap, not in fitting with the place.
As we walk under the stand there are the entrances for the posher fans.
A poster advertises the next first team match.
Also the standard list of ground regulations.
We are now outside at the next corner, this is the only stand that is open today, but we're not going inside yet.
The rear of the North Stand, opposite the Holte End.
Set back across the car park behind the goal in the picture above, is the Villa Store. Club shop in 'old money'!
And looking back toward the ground, to the left of the North Stand, as we look toward it, is the Doug Ellis Stand.
Turning back to the Trinity Road Stand there's a cycle rack, those hooks look a bit menacing!
Programme booths, not open today, just a single sheet given away on entrance. Which is more than Chelsea bother to do on their FA Youth Cup nights!
Outside the ground is a statue of one of their founding fathers, the Scotsman William McGregor, who was the instigator behind the Football League, way back in 1888.
As the plaque below it tells you.
There are more fancy gates at this end of the stadium.
Old and new styles for the club name.
These are the turnstiles that were open for the match. Note the shaped tiling on the left of the picture.
Personal engraved messages on them.
The club mascots are inside... boy...
There is plenty of service points in the concourse, though most are closed today.
Not too sure about all this healthy food lark though.
This leads through to the Family Stand part of this side.
With snazzy murals for the youngsters to 'wow'! at.
Inside the stadium itself now, we are in the Trinity Road Stand. Only the lower section is open, & I won't be able to take you round the whole place, like I prefer. But we will still see most of the ground from this side, as we move along it, going backward & forward, as the match progresses.
This is the Doug Ellis Stand, opposite.
To our left is the two tiered North Stand.
with the still huge Holte End, to the right. I'm not 100%, but I think that when this was a terrace back in the day, it was the largest terraced end in the country.
In the corner by the Holte is the electronic scoreboard. Again , informative, unlike Chelsea, who kept theirs switched off at their FA Youth Cup ties which I went to last season.
Still in the socreboard corner we see a number of executive boxes.
Back down the other end, above the boxes in the North Stand, a commentator's quotation from their finest moment runs across the length...
I couldn't fit it all into one snap!
Below the glass of the boxes the seats are completely empty, bar the ball boy!
Here we see the same stand from the side.
Up in in the lower corner of the Trinity Road we look across the pitch, to the stands on the other sides.
And now along the length of the Trinity Road, boxes inbetween the two tiers above us, to the right.
A bit of a wonky angle as I hold my camera up to snap the posh seats in front of the glass.
Moving along, but down a little, we glance along the same stand.
Back in the corner by the North Stand, this walkway shows that the Trinity Road could be classed as 'three tiered' if you class the front area, by the pitch, as another section.
Here we see the front bit, which includes a section for the press.
This is the centre part of mid/lower tier, which wasn't open to sit in, presumably more of an executive area.
This looks like the directors' box.
Sneaking up a little, another view over the pitch, toward the Holte End.
A leftwards turn now, back to the North Stand.
Another look at the scoreboard, as the game is in progress.
At the other bottom corner of the Trinity Road, we see the modern majesty of the Holte.
Down at the corner, we turn & look back along the Trinity Road, from the bottom.
In the same place, along the touchline, North Stand as the backdrop.
From the front this is probably the 'best' picture I could get of the upper tier, above the boxes.
Still at the front, over the pitch with both North & Doug Ellis stands as backdrop.
In the centre, at the front, are the perspex dugouts.
The far corner of the Doug Ellis Stand opposite. How often do you see a spiral staircase at a football ground?
The seats reflected in the boxes on the North Stand glass.
On top of the Doug Ellis flags proudly fluttering in the wind.
Unfortunately 'back to front' for me, due to the wind direction.
The final score, a deserved home win.
And the small pocket of noisy home fans are about to pack up their flags.
And so...back to the match, a few pictures of the game itself:
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What a majestic ground.
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