By the time Burton Albion – or Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion to give them their official title – joined us in the Conference, we’d been there for nine seasons already. You could be forgiven for thinking the 2002-3 season was the first time we crossed paths with this Staffordshire side, but – like with your Wokings and your Crawleys – our acquaintance was made long before the Conference. A club we first met back in 1984, Burton Albion became quite a familiar sight in both the Conference and the Football League; the Brewers are old friends in many ways.
That first chance meeting was an FA Cup clash indoors, and one we’d lose comfortably in the end. After that and an FA Trophy tie in the mid-1990s, it wasn’t until Burton were promoted to the Conference themselves in 2002 that meetings became more regular. While we beat them to the Conference, the Brewers beat us to the Football League; just by a single season, but it still counts (and hurts). Our jostling continued after that too; us getting into League One before them. We were, however, completely outdone after the Brewers’ promotion to the Championship in 2016.
It’s now up to us to match it. And outdo them once again too; promotion to the Premier League anyone? You wouldn’t say no. The Brewers are also an odd one in that we have bad memories of them. But, actually, we’ve done alright against them; winning 10 of our 21 matches as of summer 2023. As we enter the 2023-4 League One, it’ll have been eight years since we last met – a joyous reunion perhaps? Or one laced with a little bit of needle if you consider that ex-Boro’ forward and manager Dino Maamria was in charge there? We’ll see…
Burton Albion aren’t actually the oldest club on the scene. They only came to life in 1950, joining the Birmingham and District League straight off the bat. Eight years later, the Brewers became members of the Southern League and won promotion to the Premier Division in 1966. A poor 1967-8 should’ve ended in relegation. But it didn’t. Why? Well, they got a reprieve because Stevenage Town went bust and that spared them. Who knows what the story may have been?
Yes, they still fell out of the Premier Division two years later. And they were incredibly inconsistent during the 1970s. Bored of all that, the Brewers switched to the Northern Premier League in 1979. It wasn’t a bad call either. They were among the stronger teams in the competition. Never won anything, but you can’t have it all. So, we’re not sure why it was decided to go back to the Southern League in the late 1980s.
In 2001, they came second in the Southern League. Not winning promotion to the Conference, they decided to make the switch back to the Northern Premier League. A bit odd? Not really. They stormed to the title; losing two games all season. That secured them a place in the Conference. And that opened up the pathway for them to move forward an extra step. The year before we did it, Burton Albion won the Blue Square Premier and were in the Football League.
How to get to Burton Albion – Travel Information – Distance: 123 miles
There are two ways of getting to Burton itself. And it’s really down to the flick of a coin as to which you prefer. You can exit the M1 at J22 and trek across the midlands past Ashby-de-la-Zouch on the A511. Or you can continue up to J24 and go across the quicker – but longer – A50 route; turning off southbound at the A38.
Take the A511 for around 17 miles; passing Coalville and travelling through Ashby-De-La-Zouch, Woodville and Midway. This area is dotted with speed cameras, so beware! When you enter Burton, get into the right hand lane at the bottom of Ashby Road (A511); going over the traffic lights and across the Trent Bridge.
Staying in the right hand lane, go straight on through both sets of lights at the end of the Bridge into Horninglow Street. Head straight on again at the next lights, then turn right at the traffic lights underneath the Brewery fly-over into Hawkins Lane. Go through the industrial estate, straight across the mini-roundabout and over the Railway Bridge.
As you go over this, the floodlights are visible. Once over the Railway Bridge, you’ll come to a roundabout. Go straight across into Princess Way and the ground is on the left.
Take the A50 west until you reach the Toyota Island and the junction with the A38 (around 12 miles). Head south on the A38 (Burton and Birmingham) until you reach the first Burton turn off and take this exit (A5121). Proceed along Derby Road, passing McDonald’s and the Pirelli factory on your right and a BP Garage on your left until you reach a roundabout. Turn right at this roundabout into Princess Way and the ground is 100 yards on your left.
You can park at the stadium if you arrive in time. There are 400 spaces and it’ll cost you £5 for the pleasure. One other option is to park at the Ryknild Industrial Estate; again at a cost of £5. This can be reached from Derby Road Island by taking the first exit. You’ll see it signposted on matchdays too.
Services to: LONDON ST PANCRAS via DERBY; PETERBOROUGH via NOTTINGHAM; LONDON EUSTON via TAMWORTH
The station is about 0.5 miles to the west of the town centre on Borough Road. The walk is roughly 25 minutes. Leaving the station, turn left and then take the next right into Derby Street. Keep going down Derby Street for about 1.5 miles; continuing straight across the first roundabout by the Derby Turn pub.
Turn left immediately at the next roundabout into Princess Way. The way into the ground will be 300 yards on your right.
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