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Oakwell

Barnsley, England

Home of the Barnsley FC

2.7

N/A

Oakwell (map it)
Grove St
Barnsley, England S71 1ET
United Kingdom


Barnsley FC website

Oakwell website

Year Opened: 1887

Capacity: 23,009

There are no tickets available at this time.

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All's Not Well at Oakwell

Oakwell is home to 2013–14 season Championship club, Barnsley FC. The stadium is very traditional, being opened in 1887, and has a capacity of 23,009. During the 1990s, most of the stadium was renovated, but the “West Stand” was left untouched. It was planned that the stand would be redeveloped because of the increasing crowds at Oakwell, but due to declining fortunes of the club and sale of the stadium, the stand was left alone. The away end is the most modern stand, having a capacity of 6,000 and is rarely half full.

In recent times, Barnsley is a team that has just avoided relegation to League One year in, year out. This has happened for the past six years – ever since they got promoted back to the Championship in 2006. For the fans, it’s been very bleak, and they’re getting increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress of the club. On the contrary, during the 2007–08 season, Barnsley had an unforgettable FA Cup run. During the run, they beat Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield and defeated Chelsea 1-0 at home, before losing at Wembley in the semi-final.

As for the history of the club, Barnsley won the FA Cup in 1912. Other than a few lower-league titles, nothing much has happened. Arguably, the most celebrated success was the promotion to the Premier League in 1997.

(Note: exchange rates are as of the time of this posting, September 2013.)

2.7

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

Like every other football stadium in England, there is no "standout" piece of grub, and the food is very basic. As a fan at an away game, all you want is food served hot and a pint. And as expected, you can have this. Burgers, hot dogs, fries, crisps, chocolate, and pies are all sold here and at reasonable prices. As for drinking, Carlsberg bottles are sold for £3.40 ($5.50) in the stadium, which is very expensive.

Atmosphere    2

The atmosphere at Oakwell is very flat, and most of the time, the stadium is half empty. 2012-13's average attendance was only 10,207, which was second worst in the Championship. Rarely will an atmosphere be generated, and Oakwell just isn't a fortress. But the thing that annoys me is that the stadium can be very loud and intimidating at times. On the last day of last season, the crowd was a huge factor for spurring "The Reds" onto victory, and ultimately keeping them in the Championship.

Seeing the stadium full is like meeting the president: it's that rare! The last time I can remember Oakwell being packed to the rafters was against Chelsea in the FA Cup. That was a game when the stadium was literally shaking! It should be like that more often.

Neighborhood    3

Barnsley isn't known for being the "nicest" place in England. The former mining town is still recovering since the pits were closed many years ago. In and around Barnsley, however, there's quite a lot you can do. During the summer, you can visit the "Maize Maze" at Cannon Hall Farm, which is about fifteen minutes away from the ground. It's great family fun, and I fully recommend visiting.

As for around the stadium, the town centre is a two-minute walk from the stadium and is worth a visit. You can grab a bite to eat in the town centre, which is much better than in the stadium. Right outside the ground is Barnsley Metrodome, renowned for its fun, indoor swimming facilities and bowling alley, which hosts the Webber Cup. People are put off by the reputation of Barnsley, but please, don't be!

Fans    2

The support "The Reds" receive is very poor. Everyone recognises this. Mostly, everyone who lives in Barnsley supports them, though barely anyone goes out and watches their team play. Each year, season ticket numbers go down. I do feel sorry for the fans that have seen their team be dismal for years, but it's not right to be disloyal to your club just because they're going through a bad patch.

Barnsley's local rivals are Rotherham, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield, and their arch enemies Leeds United. When Leeds come to town, the home crowd are out-sung and no noise is made by the Barnsley "faithful". To be honest, the home support is embarrassing. The away support is creditable, though.

Access    3

As a frequent visitor to Barnsley on a non-match day, traffic around the roundabouts can be busy. On game days, however, traffic is dealt with very well, and is a smooth process to get into the ground. Parking wise, it's very good for an away supporter. The most popular choice for away supporters is the parking in-between the ground and the Metrodome leisure complex. This is only £4.00 ($6.50), which is fair. Otherwise, street parking or parking at Barnsley Metrodome are good backups, but from past experience, getting out of the car park at the leisure complex can be a nightmare. If going by train, Barnsley Railway Station is a ten-minute walk from the ground. And if going by bus, Barnsley Bus Station is a five-minute walk from the ground.

Return on Investment    3

Barnsley's ticket prices are very admirable. That is the main reason that persuaded me to not give this section a low rating. Their main aim are the youths, and this is reflected on the relatively cheap ticket prices. For an under 12, it's only £5 ($8.10) (if you buy more than ninety minutes prior to kick off) and for an under 18, it's £16 ($26).

But, there is a negative to this. You may be paying good prices, but the quality of football from the home team is dreadful. The actual standard of Championship football is excellent, with some of the brightest talents in the country playing week-in, week-out. For an adult, it's £23 ($37.35) to get in, and £16 ($26) admission for OAP's and students.

Extras    3

Located just behind the stadium is a modern outdoor training centre, mostly used for youth development. Also, a match day programme is on sale for £3 ($4.90). As for a cool fact, Premier League giants, Manchester City, played a UEFA Cup qualifier at Oakwell in 2008, as the Etihad's pitch was unfit to play on. Also, Oakwell has hosted a few England U17's games in recent years.

Final Thoughts

I think that the current situation at Barnsley FC is in dire need of improvement. As of writing this review, Barnsley are second bottom of the Championship table, with only four points from eight games. The stadium and surroundings themselves are very good, but the atmosphere and quality of football from Barnsley is very poor.

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