We are commemorating one of the most iconic stadiums in Britain by running through some of the key developments, the origin of the name and many other interesting facts.
West Bromwich Albion’s home was previously the Stoney Lane ground, which the Baggies moved away due to an expiring lease agreement. The current ground’s name, The Hawthorns, originated from the large amounts of hawthorn bushes that had grown in the nearby areas, as well as on the area on which the ground was built.
The inaugural fixture was played out against Derby County, which ended in a 1-1 draw. The initial capacity was around 35,000, but after the club bought the freehold in 1913, The Hawthorns saw a drastic improvement in its infrastructure.
After the first World War and in the club’s only First Division Championship year of 1920, concrete terracing was installed within the stadium. By the end of 1924, the capacity was increased to a massive 65,000. Further improvements ensued, making the ground the first in Britain to have an electronic turnstile fitted in 1949 – which was well ahead of its time.
The next big change came about with the Hillsborough disaster. New regulation meant that all grounds need to move towards an all-seater stadium, which was eventually inaugurated on Boxing Day 1995 in a game against Bristol City which Albion won 1-0. The Hawthorns added yet another feather in its cap by becoming the first ground to install big screens at the beginning of the 2002/03 campaign – the first-ever season in the Premiership.
In the 2011/12 campaign, the playing surface at The Hawthorns met all the requirements set out by the UEFA’s highest standard of pitches, giving the players the best place to play and be competitive. Further works were conducted along the way, introducing under-soil heating and remote-controlled irrigation systems as well as reducing the stadium capacity to 26,850.
The pitch was graced by the world’s best players at the time, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba, Sergio Aguero and many others during the time spent in the Premier League. After securing promotion back to the Premier League in the 2009/10 campaign, the Baggies remained in the division for the longest time in their history to enjoy an eight season-long journey.
As well as serving as the home ground of West Bromwich Albion, The Hawthorns has hosted a number of other football matches, including England Internationals in 1922 and 1924. Additionally, the Hawthorns hosted two FA Cup Semi-Finals in 1902, seeing a 1-1 draw played out by Derby County and Sheffield United and a second one in 1960 between Aston Villa and Wolves.
Other sports have utilised the Hawthorns, such as a cricket match between India and Pakistan which took place in the late 1970s, while in 2000 and 2001, the ground hosted Kabaddi tournaments.
All-time Record Attendance: 64,815 VS Arsenal, 6 March 1937 (FA Cup Sixth Round)
Modern All-Seated Record Attendance: 27,751 VS Portsmouth, 15 May 2005 (Premier League)
All-time Record Average Attendance: 40,083 (First Division, 1953-54)
Modern All-Seated Record Average Attendance: 26,776 (Premier League, 2002-03)
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