Ground No.103
Visited - Saturday 16th September 2006
Result - Barnsley 1-0 Wolves
Competition - Coca-Cola Championship
Attendance - 11,350

When the fixtures for the 2006/07 season came out, Barnsley away was one of the first games I looked for. Not because of any rivalry, or willingness to play them, but because Oakwell was a ground that more than most I was looking forward to visiting. Thankfully, the computer had paired us with them fairly early on in the season, so there wasn’t long to wait until the day finally came around.

The journey up to Barnsley went reasonably well, changing trains in Birmingham and Sheffield, before arriving into the town at about 11am. As usual, I had hoped to be able to have a look round before the turnstiles opened, so after walking the short distance to the ground, I soon found a way in, asking a lady who was guarding an open gate, who happily let me in to take a few pictures.

After going in, the first stand that catches your eye is the East Stand. Although not the newest stand at the ground, it is arguably the best, being an attractive two-tiered design with a row of executive boxes running across the middle, and the upper tier slightly overhanging them. Adjacent to that, in the South-East corner, is an unusual little stand for disabled people, which features a number of balconies giving a good view out over the pitch. Bordering it to the one side is the Pontefract Road End, which is a fair sized single tier stand, which stands next to the West Stand. The oldest structure at the ground, the West Stand is a classic grandstand, with an uncovered lower tier (formerly terracing, now filled with seats), and an upper tier above that complete with wooden seating, and numerous pillars obstructing your view! Completing the picture at Oakwell is the North Stand. Slightly larger than the Pontefract Road End, this was another single tiered stand, and was where we were due to be sitting later on that afternoon.

Having got enough pictures, I soon left, stopping off in the clubshop, before walking back into the town to spend a few hours, prior to coming back and going in at about 2:40pm.

As mentioned, we were in the North Stand, which offered good views and facilities, however seemed far too large for our travelling support, which was around 1600, which was slightly disappointing, if not surprising given the rising costs of watching football these days. 

After finding a seat (plenty to choose from!), it wasn’t long before the game got started, and from the off, Barnsley had set their stall out to attack. Michael McIndoe went close early on, before on 10 minutes, Gary Breen managed to thwart another attack by putting the ball out for a corner to Barnsley. Unfortunately, thanks in part to poor positioning from Matt Murray, the home side managed to take the lead, when Marc Richards found some space from McIndoe’s corner, and was able to turn and lash the ball home. After that, it was all Barnsley, with Murray making up for his earlier mistake with a series of excellent saves, keeping us in the game. Despite the odd attack from ourselves, we never looked likely to score, and so at the break, we were fortunate to go in at only 1-0 down.

When the players came out for the second half, Mick McCarthy had clearly had words, and we looked much brighter, taking the game to the hosts, who looked content to sit back on their one goal advantage, but for all the effort, nothing would really fall for us in the box, and so when the ref blew his whistle for full-time, the score still stood at 1-0, with Barnsley taking all three points.

Throughout the game, the atmosphere from the home fans had been quite disappointing, with barely a mutter being heard from them, however despite hardly creating a ‘cauldron of noise’, we did make ourselves heard, with a sizable group singing throughout the game, which was nice to see, and not something that has been too common following Wolves on the road over the past few years.

Leaving the ground, we were kept separated from the home fans, being forced through the car park, and up some back streets back towards the town centre, which seemed slightly over the top, considering that there didn’t seem to be an air of trouble, but we soon got away, and after going back into the town for a bit, I eventually caught the train home, changing in Birmingham and Sheffield again, and getting home in reasonable time.

Overall, despite it being a bit disappointing from the result perspective, it hadn’t been too bad a day out. I had found myself liking Oakwell a lot more than I had expected to, with the ground having quite an enclosed, and complete feel, even with the West Stand being somewhat older than the other three stands. Whilst I had expected it to look out of place, like say the East Stand at Vicarage Road, or the Pavilion Stand at Deepdale, it fitted in well, and helped add something to the ground as opposed take from it.

Welcome to Barnsley!

Rear of the West Stand

Rear of the Pontefract Road End

The Club Shop

Rear of the East Stand

Rear of the North Stand

The West Stand

The Pontefract Road End

The East Stand

The North Stand

The East Stand

The Corner Stand

The Pontefract Road End

The West Stand

Gable on the West Stand

Oakwell Panoramic 1

Oakwell Panoramic 2

Visited - Saturday 25th April 2009
Result - Barnsley 1-1 Wolves
Competition - Coca-Cola Championship
Attendance - 18,288

Following a successful season, Wolves had managed to clinch promotion at home to QPR, but the title race was still on, with second placed Birmingham still able to catch us. Whilst it did look unlikely, with Wolves sitting 6 points clear with two games left, not to mention a better goal difference, the Wolf in me has taught never to have faith in overwhelming odds, so along with 6000 fans from the Black Country, we made our way North to see what should have been an exciting game, with Barnsley still having serious relegation fears going into the last couple of fixtures. It turned out to be a bit of a dull affair in the end, livened only by the pitch invasions, first from the home fans when they scored, and secondly from the visitors when we equalised, before everyone piled on at the end! It was my second visit to Oakwell, and as with the full review above, it's a ground I like, having a nice mixture of old and new, which makes it a cracking place to win a Championship at, particularly for Mick McCarthy with it being his home town, and the ground where he started out in football. No captions for the pictures below, just scenes of a memorable day.

Oakwell Panoramic 3

Oakwell Panoramic 4
(click here for full size picture)

Oakwell Panoramic 5
(click here for full size picture)

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