Why do we always get more of a friendly welcome when we visit Villa Park than up the road at St Andrews? The fans (Villa and Brum) are like chalk and cheese. Mind you - the ticket prices are a JOKE! Aston Villa FC - Villa Park Directions & Car Parking The ground can be seen from the M6, if you are coming from the North side of Birmingham. Leave the M6 at Junction 6 and take the slip road sign posted Birmingham (NE). Turn right at the island (the fourth exit), the ground is well signposted from here. However to be on the safe side, turn right at the second set of traffic lights (there is the King Edward VII pub on the corner) on to Aston Hall Road. This road will take you down to the ground. Mostly street parking (don't be surprised though if you are approached by kids wanting to 'mind your car'), although this is not as plentiful as it once was due to a local residents only parking scheme now in place in the streets around the Witton roundabout area. By Train Take the short train journey from Birmingham New Street (around 10-15 minutes) to either Aston or Witton station. Witton station is nearer to the away end and is only a few minutes walk from the ground. Turn left out of the station exit and continue down to a roundabout. Turn left at the roundabout into Witton Lane and the entrance to the away section is down this road on the first corner of the ground that you reach. Aston station is a ten minute walk away from the ground. Extra trains are laid on to the ground on matchdays. Where To Drink There are a number of pubs in the vicinity of Villa Park, but most of them on match days are either members only or have bouncers on the door. However, Dave Cooper recommends the following for away fans; 'The Witton Arms (formerly the Cap and Gown), is not a bad pub, to which half the pub is given to away fans (there is even a separate entrance for visiting fans). It is only two minutes walk from the away entrance, right on Witton Island, however it does charge £2 per person to gain entry' If you arrive a bit earlier then you may wish to visit the historic Barton Arms, located about a 15 minute walk away on High Street Aston (A34). This Grade II listed building, is one of Birmingham's finest pubs, with superb Victorian decor, serving Oakham ales and Thai food is also on offer. It is a regular entry in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. Darren Williams a visiting Manchester City fan adds; 'We have always park at an entertainment complex called StarCity. It is just off Junction 6 of the M6, going towards Villa Park. Huge free car park, plus plenty of food and drink outlets. It is then about a mile and half walk to the ground'. Please note that alcohol is not available in the away end. Away Fans After many seasons of being housed at one end of the ground, away supporters are now located on one side of the Doug Ellis Stand, towards the North end, where up to 3,000 fans can be accommodated. This was at the request of Manager Martin O'Neill who wanted Villa fans to be present behind both goals. One bi-product of this move has been that the general atmosphere inside the stadium has been boosted somewhat. Away fans are allocated both the upper and lower tiers of the stand. The concourse at the back of the upper tier is particularly tight and easily becomes crowded, whereas there is more space behind the lower section. There is a fair selection of food available and it is the first football ground that I have visited that offers meat products that are Halal. There are a selection of pies (all £3.30), Burgers (£2.60), Fish & Chips (£3.50), Southern Fried Chicken and Chips (£3.50), Vegetable Samosas (£2) and Chips & Curry Sauce (£2.50). There are wide screen televisions on the concourse, showing past encounters between the teams before kick off. There is also betting facilities available in the form of a Ladbrokes outlet. Entrance to the stand is gained by entering your match ticket into an electronic reader. A visit to Villa Park is normally an enjoyable experience, with the stewards normally taking a relaxed and friendly attitude. One concern though, is that there is very little separating the home and away fans and this could lead to crowd problems in the future.