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The Premier League Bucket List: Help Shape a Reader’s Tour of England

craven cottage1 The Premier League Bucket List: Help Shape a Reader’s Tour of England

In the movie The Bucket List, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play characters who go on an adventure to fulfill their wildest dreams before they, well, kick the bucket. You, too, may have a wish list of items you’d add to a bucket list, no matter how young or old you are. And I’m sure many of you would consider adding a chance of a lifetime trip to go see a Premier League game in-person near the top of your list.

Yesterday, EPL Talk reader Peter Stokes recounted his experiences visiting England with his son to catch two Premier League matches, one at Stamford Bridge and the other at Old Trafford.  While the story was a joy to read, we now have an opportunity to help shape a trip for a fellow reader before he’s actually booked it. It’s an opportunity for us to vicariously live through someone who is going to England, and to make sure he has the best time possible.

Before I share what the suggested itinerary is of the Fulham supporter from Portland (who prefers to stay anonymous), let me explain what his priorities are for this trip:

  1. His first priority is to go see his beloved Fulham play,
  2. The second priority is to see matches from the highest division (Premier League over Championship, if possible),
  3. He wants to see as many matches as possible in the timeframe when he’s in England,
  4. He wants to minimize the number of nights spent in London, to keep down costs and because he will have spent a good deal of time in London already on this trip,
  5. To minimize travel time, he will travel exclusively via train and tube,
  6. Lastly, his plan is to attend matches where he has the best chance of getting a ticket.

So far, here is the reader’s suggested itinerary:

Thursday, 9/22 & Friday 9/23

  • Continental Flight #1084 | 4h 44m | Economy Cabin Thu, Sep 22 10:15p from Portland, OR (PDX) 5:59a in Newark, NJ (EWR) Time between flights:13h 41m | Long Layover
  • Continental Flight #20 | 7h 0m | Economy Cabin Fri, Sep 23 7:40p from Newark, NJ (EWR) 7:40a on 9/24 in Manchester, United Kingdom (MAN)

Saturday, 9/24

  • 9/24 Train (Day 1) from Manchester Airport to The Hawthorns (2-3 hours)
  • Match: West Brom v. Fulham, 3pm, Saturday, Sep 24 The Hawthorns, West Bromwich (Just NW of Birmingham), 25 pounds, on sale 9/5
  • Accommodations for night of 9/24 in West Brom or Birmingham

Sunday, 9/25

  • 9/25 Train (Day 2) from The Hawthorns to London Euston (10:45am – 1:04pm)
  • Tube from Euston to Shepherds Bush Market
  • Match: QPR v. Aston Villa, 4pm, Sunday, 9/25, Loftus Road, London,
  • Tube from Shepherds Bush Market to Liverpool Street
  • 9/25 train from London Liverpool Street to Norwich (2 hours, leaving 6:30pm, 7pm, 7:30pm, 8:30pm, 9:30pm, 10:30pm, 11:30pm)
  • Accommodations for nights of 9/25 & 9/26 in Norwich

Monday, 9/26

  • Match: Norwich v. Sunderland, Monday, 9/26, 8pm, Carrow Road, Norwich; On Sale 9/9

Tuesday, 9/27

  • Train (day 3) from Norwich to Derby (3.5 hours, 2 trains leave per hour)
  • Match: Derby County v. Barnsley, 9/27, 7:45pm, on sale now, 30 pounds; can buy on day of game
  • Accommodations for night of 9/27 in Derby

Wednesday, 9/28

  • Train (day 4) from Derby to Middlesbrough (3 hours, frequent)
  • Match: Middlesbrough v Leicester City, 9/28, 7:45pm
  • Accommodations in Middlesbrough for 9/28 (match will end too late at night to stay with friend)

Thursday, 9/29

  • Train (day 5) from Middlesbrough to London King’s Cross (3-4 hours, frequent)
  • Accommodations in London for night of 9/29

Friday, 9/30

  • [Craven Cottage Tour, 11:15am]
  • Tube from Putney Bridge to Liverpool Street
  • Train (day 6) from London Liverpool Street to Prittlewell (1 hour, frequent)
  • Match: Southend v Shrewsbury, 9/30, 7:45pm
  • Accommodations for night of 9/30 in Southend

Saturday, 10/1

  • Train (day 7) from Prittlewell to London Liverpool Street (1 hour, frequent)
  • Tube from Liverpool Street to Putney Bridge
  • Match: Fulham v. QPR, Saturday, 10/1, 3pm, Craven Cottage
  • Tube from Putney Bridge to Euston
  • 10/1 Train from London Euston to Bolton (3 hours as long as you catch the 8:20 train or earlier. 9pm train is 4 hours.)
  • Accommodations for night of 10/1 in Bolton

Sunday, 10/2

  • Local train from Bolton to Horwich Parkway station
  • Match: Bolton v. Chelsea, 10/2, 1:30pm, Reebok Stadium, Bolton, on sale 9/7
  • Train (day 8) from Bolton to Manchester Airport Hotel (1 hour, frequent)

Monday, 10/3

  • Return (MAN>PDX) Continental Flight #21 | 7h 50m | Economy Cabin Mon, Oct 3 9:25a from Manchester, United Kingdom (MAN) 12:15p in Newark, NJ (EWR) Time between flights:7h 0m | Long Layover
  • Continental Flight #1105 | 6h 5m | Economy Cabin Mon, Oct 3 7:15p from Newark, NJ (EWR) 10:20p in Portland, OR (PDX)

——————————-

  • Flight cost (as of 8/22/11) = $1005 on Continental site
  • Britrail England Pass, 8 day flex pass = $329
  • Currency: 1.65 dollars to the pound as of 8/22/11

——————————-

Resources to help you with your recommendations:

Now that you’ve had a chance to review his itinerary, you have the perfect opportunity to convince him (and the fellow readers) if he should make any changes or detours. Should he go see your favorite club or favorite football ground instead? Are there things in England that he should not miss if he has the chance to be there? Do you have recommendations of how he can avoid those mega-long layovers?

Feel free to share your recommendations in the comments section below. Your insight and feedback is always welcomed.

This entry was posted in Fulham, Leagues: EPL. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

24 Responses to The Premier League Bucket List: Help Shape a Reader’s Tour of England

  1. cfcuk says:

    Hi, nice trip mate and im sure it will be brilliant.

    just a couple of thing i would do:
    1.Im not sure how Britrail railcards work but individual train tickets in England get hugely more expensive the closer to your trip you buy them so i would buy it early just in case.
    2. I really would not stay in Middlesbrough it is an absolute sh*thole. I went up there with Chelsea a few years ago the day after it was voted the worst town in Britain – best avoided.
    3. Instead of QPR – Villa, which could be difficult for tickets due to the tiny capacity at Loftus Road I would try see if a lower league team are playing. Look out for Brentford, Leyton Orient, Crystal Palace, West Ham, AFC Wimbledon.
    4. On the Thursday I would go to the Europa League match Stoke v Besiktas, would be a brilliant atmosphere. two sets of incredibly loud fans.

    If i think of anything else that could be useful i would put it up here, i might end up seeing you somewhere in the crowd at the Bolton Chelsea match!

  2. OT says:

    Forget the Championship on Tuesday September 27 and Wednesday September 28.

    If you are going to be in the UK on those two days, there are only 2 matches worth watching:

    Tuesday September 27

    7:45pm UK Time – Manchester United vs Basel

    Wednesday September 28

    7:45pm UK Time – Arsenal vs Olympiacos

    Tickets will be very expensive, but nothing beats watching the UEFA Champions League live in person.

    There should be plenty of seats available for the Arsenal vs Olympiacos match. Arsenal vs Udinese (on August 13) was only about half full.

    You might get lucky and be able to score tickets for Manchester United vs Basel, which will sell out.

    ==

    On Thursday September 29, you definitely will want to watch Fulham host a UEFA Europa League match at Craven Cottage:

    8:05pm UK Time – Fulham vs Twente

    UEFA Europa League group matches rarely sell out.

  3. Taylor says:

    Will he get the tickets by getting it from the club’s “Travel Package” ? Because that will be expensive and it is usually sold as a package (not just the tickets but with parking spot, etc IIRC). If he wants to buy the tickets only, he might have to get it by signing up as an official member.

    Getting tickets is not easy (unless you are prepared to pay premium price). When I went to OT couple of years ago, in order to be eligible to buy home game tickets, I had to register as One United member. Only the members can be eligible to buy home game tickets and you have to sign up first for single game tickets. If there are more interests than available seats, you have to go on a ballot.

    If the reader hasn’t got the tickets yet or not really sure whether he can get it, he needs to contact the club ASAP. Peter Sokes could probably offer some advice

  4. OT says:

    What I would do with that itinerary if I were a Fulham fan:

    Saturday 9/24 3pm UK – West Brom v Fulham

    Sunday 9/25 4pm UK – QPR v Aston Villa or “rest” (i.e. non-football activity)

    Monday 9/26 8pm UK – either Norwich v Sunderland or “rest”

    Tuesday 9/27 7:45pm UK – Manchester United v Basel

    Travel to London on Wednesday

    Wednesday 9/28 7:45pm UK – Arsenal v Olympiacos

    Tour Craven Cottage on Thursday or Friday morning

    Thursday 9/29 8:05pm UK – Fulham vs Twente

    Friday 9/30 7:45pm UK – either Southend vs Shrewsbury or “rest”

    Saturday 10/1 3pm UK – Fulham vs QPR

    (Note: Fulham may move Fulham vs QPR to Sunday in order to allow players to rest after the UEFA Europa League match on Thursday. If that were the case, then try to score tickets for Everton vs Liverpool at 12:45pm UK. That one will be a tough ticket to score.)

    Sunday 10/2 4pm UK – Bolton vs Chelsea (or Fulham vs QPR at 3pm UK if the match were moved from Saturday.)

    ==

  5. IanCransonsKnees says:

    Glad to see you’ll try to sample QPR’s Loftus Road, my favourite away ground but the comment earlier on about getting tickets might be right.

    Stoke vs Besiktas, if you were up for it you should get tickets fairly easily as it’ll be on a first come first served basis as it’s not a league match. If you decide to try this one out let me know and I’ll make sure you get a ticket.

    This might help you out for train times etc:

    http://www.thetrainline.com/buytickets/

    You’ll enjoy the lower league matches that you’ve picked out too.

  6. cfcuk says:

    As Ian says above definitely try to go to lower league matches that is what football is all about.

    i would strongly advise against going to the arsenal champions league match. Spending a fortune to sit in a souless corporate stadium and watch most likely a pretty one sided match. As you said in your article if you want to go to England and see what English football is about you wont find any of it at the emirates.

    • John says:

      Don’t listen to this guy. He is just a bitter Chelsea fan, who is sad that his club does not have the history of Arsenal football club. The Emirates is a world class stadium with world class supporters.

      I would stay away from Stamford Bridge. Used to be full of hooligans, and now you have a bunch of glory hunters.

      You should visit some lower league matches, and maybe even a non-league games, which is incredibely cheap.

      • The Gaffer says:

        Don’t let team rivalries influence your decisions. Arsenal’s stadium is world-class, but it’s not going to be as noisy as some of the other clubs in England. I watched a Champions League match at the Emirates several years ago against Hamburg. The Arsenal fans were relatively quiet, but Hamburg were the ones that brought the noise.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

  7. Dave says:

    Looks like a fun trip. I’m very jealous.

    As an American who has only been to a handful of matches in Europe, my suggestions involve seat selection. I’ve had better experiences sitting or standing with vocal supporters. I sat midfield in the Johnny Haynes Stand at Craven Cottage and the crowd was dead. The upper middle sections of the Hammersmith End housed the loudest Fulham supporters.

    For the matches you’ll attend as a neutral, I’d consider trying to get tickets in the visitors/away section. I’ve found the supporters that are willing to travel to see their club are more into it and fun. I’m sure this varies from club to club, but I figured I’d throw it out there. Sitting in the away section will often limit your ability to explore other sections of the stadium and may give you worse food options, though (the pies & sausages sold in Goodison Park’s away section had to have been weeks old & there was like one person working the stand, so the lines were long).

    Also keep in mind sitting in a covered areas, as sitting in the rain isn’t as fun.

    • IanCransonsKnees says:

      Bang on the money with the comment about treatment of away fans in terms of food etc.

    • John says:

      I’d avoid Goodison Park all together. The place is crumbling, and you’ll find people smoking in the stands. Hopefully, someone can step in and help Everton out of their financial mess.

      • The Gaffer says:

        Goodison Park, along with Craven Cottage, are my two favorite grounds in the Premier League. Goodison Park is very historic and a classic old English football ground that’s rare to find in the Premiership. I would highly recommend going there to see a match.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

        • IanCransonsKnees says:

          Goodison and Craven Cottage are old skool grounds, have to say that Goodison was a huge let down in terms of atmosphere and standard of stadia when I went. You can see why it needs pulling down, and I’d go so far as saying Anfield isn’t much better.

  8. brian c says:

    There will be champions league matches on the 27/28th but in all fairnness, that does not say where they’ll be playing if any of them will be in England. I expect that at least one would. I’d much prefer to see a CL game if I could.

    • OT says:

      Champions League

      Tuesday 27th September

      7:45pm UK – Manchester United vs Basel

      (This one will sell out all 75000+ seats. Too many people are willing to pay top dollar to watch Man Utd.)

      Wednesday 28th September

      7:45pm UK – Arsenal vs Olympiacos

      (Good seats should still be available on match day because Arsenal is pricing out the working class.)

      =============================

      Thursday 29th September

      8:05pm UK – Europa League – Fulham vs Twente

      (Plenty of good seats will be available because casual fans in general don’t care about the Europa League until the quarterfinals at the earliest.)

      ==

      Reminder: the person making the trip is a Fulham fan. He will NOT be going to Stoke on September 30 when Fulham has a Europa League match at home.

  9. Mike in Idaho says:

    First of all, there have got to be better flight plans you can make than having a 13 hour layover to start the trip. The jetlag will kill you to start, especially coming all the way from Portland. You should have got tickets months ago, if this is the best you can do you should just wait for later in the season and plan the trip better. Second, you should see more than just football while in England (yes I know it’s a soccer site but still).

    • The Gaffer says:

      You can still get affordable flights a few weeks before a flight. Sometimes the earlier you book, the more expensive the tickets are. Check out the Price Predictor at bing.com/travel

      I wouldn’t postpone your trip until later this season. But I would throughly recommend putting your flight path into http://www.hipmunk.com to see what it returns. Mike’s right. Those layovers are brutal.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  10. Burt Reynolds says:

    Ewww… Middlesbrough? That’s not being a good host nation. How about instead of not doing anything the 29th, skip the 28th to see stuff, and go to either Tottenham-Shamrock Rovers or Stoke City vs. Besiktas on the 29th?

  11. TOM S says:

    Also making my first trip to England this year! Just booked my flight that lands on 12/26 at 10 am. Any tips would be very appreciated!!! Being a huge Chelsea fan, I would love to catch the match vs Fulham that day (would also be a great chance to see Dempsey!). Is my flight arriving at 10 gonna leave me enough time to catch the match at 1? Does anyone know how to get a pair of tickets without paying 4x face value? Thanks in advance!!!

  12. ????? says:

    Glad to see you’ll try to sample QPR’s Loftus Road, my favourite away ground but the comment earlier on about getting tickets might be right.

  13. nick says:

    Villa Park is an excellent stadium to go watch a game, highly recomend it if u want old, historical grounds to visit, has great atmosphere and birth place of the football league.

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