‘You are advised, if possible, to come in from Aston station’
Second City Derby Plans
Last week, MOMS along with a handful of other Villa supporter reps met West Midlands Police division that deals with Villa’s match day policing to hear their plans for the forthcoming Villa vs Blues derby and to see if we could see any issues with them.
Yes, there will be inconveniences on the day, but hopefully with fans getting a heads-up beforehand, these can be minimalised.
With a reduced allocation for Blues fans of around 2000 and certain seat blocking, the sell out Villa Park attendance will be around 41,500.
Obviously the 12.00 kick-off, as well as curbing pre-match drinking (although some bars will be open from 8am, if they applied for the appropriate licence) is devised to take some of the heat out of the day’s hype and build-up.
The earlier kick-off time did seem to temper feelings amongst fans in the reverse fixture, although some complained that it had an adverse effect in terms of sanitising the atmosphere of the derby.
Broadly speaking, the principle aim is to have Blues fans coming in via Witton station and Villa fans approaching from Aston station side.
Potentially making the police’s job easier is the 18 free coaches (up from the original 15) that will shepherd 900 Blues fans into the ground. All fans will receive a free beer/soft drink, which is a positive step by the club and sponsors alike, a good-will initiative that perhaps Villa should consider replicating next season for Villa away fans heading to St Andrews.
There will also be two Blues fans-only trains from New Street going directly to Witton Station without any other stops. Villa fans are obviously advised to avoid getting on them for obvious reasons and there will no doubt be a heavy police presence at New Street to facilitate this.
Once at the stadium the away fans will be directed around the back route via Station Road and Manor Road to avoid Lower North home fans. Blues fans arriving by car will be encouraged to park on the Brookvale Road side of the ground.
Around the Ground
As well as police vehicles parked to separate the flow of opposing supporters (including a barrier of police vans across Witton Lane), there will be impact protection vehicles in place at strategic points around Villa Park to prevent terrorism car threats (like those that have occurred in London, Berlin, Nice and Stockholm).
Be warned there will be a ‘soft’ ticket check on Witton Lane approaching the ground with Villa fans with only ‘R’ block tickets allowed through. For this reason, you are advised, if possible, to come in from Aston station, if you are getting the train to the game.
If you have tickets for other areas of the ground including P or T (Witton Lane Upper/North Stand Upper), you will be requested to go the other way around the ground.
With Witton Lane closed at 10am, fans will have to make the long walk round to get to their respective seats, so consider this and perhaps arrive a little earlier than normal before kick-off to give you time to factor in any inconveniences.
Disable Parking & Trinity Road Closure
Trinity Road will also be closed from 10.45am to traffic, although the good news for disable fans is they will be able to park there. There is an allocation of 50 passes. This is obviously a one-off for this particular match.
VIP’s will be asked to use the player’s car park to clear that area and avoid potential damage etc.
The general idea is to allow Blues away fans as quick an exit as possible from the ground. As well as the coaches, there will also be a Blues-only train from Witton to help them leave the area swiftly.
This is perhaps a better solution than keeping away fans behind for any duration. First of all, there really is no suitable area at Villa Park to hold them. Keeping Blues fans inside the ground could lead to damage (police will be keeping an eye on the toilets, which Birmingham City will have pay for, if smashed), so the police’s aim to clear away fans out within around 20 minutes of the final whistle.
Villa fans in R block will be let out on North Stand car park side onto Trinity Road & through a back gate onto Witton Road. The Lion gates on Witton Lane will also be closed – T block Villa supporters will not be allowed exit via Witton Lane.
As mentioned above, expect local pubs like The Aston Social and The Aston Tavern to be open from 8am, if they have applied for a temporary licence, which the police have no problem with (please check with your preferred pub for confirmation).
The Witton Arms will be HOME fans only during the day, but will be difficult to get to immediately after the game. So if you want to go their post-match, best to hold back getting there.
If you have any questions, drop them in a comment below or contact the club via Twitter on @AVFCSupport