Something that is quite interesting for fans of English football, in addition to the great players and managers that can be seen in the English Premier League or the exciting matches that we see on a regular basis during the season, is the tradition that surrounds that country in terms of history, whose environment is the closest thing to what was lived in other times in this sport.
English people have maintained some little things that have kept that atmosphere alive, remembering that they were the first to create the official rules of football, which is why they consider themselves the creators of this sport. This environment is largely possible thanks to the stadiums that retain details from other times but which turn out to be part of the charm of these structures.
Thus we find a clear example of the aforementioned in The Hawthorns, the home stadium of West Bromwich Albion, a club that has just been relegated to the EFL Championship after finishing 19th in the Premier League in this recent season. Despite this current situation, it is a traditional club of the first tier of English football that has 148 years of history in which it has had the honor of winning, at least once, the most important trophies of British football (First Division, FA Cup, Football League Cup and FA Charity Shield).
The Hawthorns ended 22 years of West Brom moving from one stadium to another since the club’s conception in 1878. Stadiums such as Cooper’s Hill, Dartmouth Park, Bunn’s Field, Four Acres or Stoney Lane were some of the places where they played as locals until the year 1900, where The Hawthorns would be born.
The stadium is located on the outskirts of the city of West Brom, unlike the rest of the stadiums that hosted the Baggies, which were located closer to the city’s center. In the area there were many hawthorn bushes that ended up being the ones that would give the stadium its name, which, as a curiosity, had a construction time of no more than 4 months.
The Hawthorns has a current capacity of 27,751, all seated. However, at the time of its construction, it had a maximum capacity of 35,500 spectators. The club did not own the pitch since they had a lease until it was able to acquire it in 1913 where it was able to carry out modifications such as the installation of concrete terraces that by 1924 allowed increasing the capacity to 65,000 spectators.
Over time and for various reasons, the capacity of the stadium gradually decreased until reaching 30,000 by the end of the 1980s. Once the Premier League started under the current name and format in 1992, West Brom had to reduce once again the capacity to which the stadium currently has to comply with the regulations of the nascent competition that required all spectators to be seated. Hence, the attendance record for The Hawthorns is 64,815 (vs Arsenal on March 6, 1937), much higher than the current capacity of the stadium.
A less striking record that the home ground of West Brom has is that of being the stadium located at the highest altitude in the entire United Kingdom because it is 552 feet above sea level, surpassing Oldham’s Boundary Park. Another interesting about The Hawthorns is that it was the first stadium in England to have an electronic scoreboard, back in 1949.
Facts and Stats
One of the highest points in the history of the stadium it is also one for West Brom as a club since it is the only First Division league title (first tier) of the institution, which was in the 1919-20 season, when football returned after World War I. The Baggies were not only champion, but they also did so in an overwhelming way by playing offensive football that led them to exceed the record for the most points and most goals scored in a league to date.
That season, The Hawthorns would see one of the most outstanding players in the club’s history, Fred Morris. The striker was the tournament’s top scorer with 37 goals. During the 20s and 30s, West Brom was one of the most attacking teams in England, although they maintained that characteristic inconsistency of theirs since in that period they were league and FA Cup champions and were also relegated to the Second Division.
Something that is common in football and, more specifically, in English football, is to place figures such as statues or plates of their great legends in their stadiums. In this regard, The Hawthorns is no exception as there is a statue of Tony “Bomber” Brown, an attacking midfielder from the 60s and 70s, formed at the club and who scored more than 200 goals for the Baggies.
Jeff Astle Gate
Another tribute to a legend can be seen in one of the gates of the stadium that has the figure of Jeff Astle in his classic goal celebration. Astle was one of the great goalscorers in the history of the club and one of the great architects of the last two major titles that West Brom ever won (along with Brown), the 1966 Football League Cup and the 1968 FA Cup. The Hawthorns also saw the birth of one of the great English players of all time, Bryan Robson. Before reaching stardom at Manchester United, Robson excelled greatly at West Brom.
The Hawthorns has had the honor of hosting three matches of the Enlgand national team during its existence: two were from the defunct British Home Championship (a tournament played by the countries that make up the United Kingdom) and a friendly match against Belgium, although all were played in the first half of the last century. In 1998, the stadium would be used by England B, an alternate national team that was sometimes used by the FA, against Chile.
Despite not being a stadium of one of the largest clubs in England, The Hawthorns is a place that combines the modernity of today’s stadiums with the history of English football, having seen the birth of great players and serving as home to one of the traditional clubs of that country.