The 10 best away days in the Premier League and EFL

Jack Peat, author of The Great Pie Revolt, gives us his run-down of the best of the 92 for travelling fans

There is an unspoken truth among football fans who travel across the country to watch their club, that regardless of the result, the football isn’t really what matters.

Those who board the train early doors carrying packs of Stella, breakfast triple sandwiches and a copy of whatever tabloid grabs their attention are not making the journey in anticipation of witnessing a good game.

That is a big bonus, granted, but the hours before and after the game are what makes the trip worthwhile.

You can watch a stinking 90 minutes of football and still enjoy your day out if you make those hours count. Which can be a godsend for anyone who, like me, follows a less than mediocre club.

As such this guide to the best away days in the Premier League and English Football League isn’t just about the match atmosphere or the size of the stadium. It isn’t just about who has the best chants and which grounds have the comfiest seats. It’s about what happens in those precious hours around the game, which I’m sure is something we can all get on board with.

Tottenham Hotspur (The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium)

It’s not easy being an Arsenal fan these days. Relegation within touching distance and European football seeming like a distant dream. And to make matters worse, their neighbours now occupy the fittest football stadium in the land, right on their doorstep.

Home to a cheese room, a microbrewery, proper pubs showing live music and some of the best pie stands in the country, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is a beacon of light in what is otherwise an abject catering scene in the English football leagues.

Just be sure to stick around for a bit after the game, because getting home can be an absolute nightmare.

Newcastle United (St. James' Park)

There are around a quarter of a million people living in Newcastle. On matchdays, a fifth of them are packed into St. James’ Park.

The behemoth stadium stands proud over the city, with the Leazes and Milburn terraces offering unparalleled panoramic views of the sprawling Tyneside metropolis.

And the Tyne is precisely where the best drinking is to be had before and after the game. Old shipping containers sporting the same rusty complexion of the Angel of North sit underneath the famous arch bridge, offering some of the best drink and scran in the Toon.

Träkol, a Scandinavian meat joint, isn’t a bad place to eat pre or post-game, or for those wanting something north of the river, The Broad Chare offers Middlewhite Crackling with Bramley Apple Sauce in the bar or a warm Scotch Egg with a runny yolk centre.

Millwall (The Den)

There was a time when drinking around Bermondsey before a Millwall fixture would have been ill-advised. Today it is practically mandatory.

Since the advent of the craft beer revolution, the railway arches that occupy a mile-long stretch from London Bridge down to The Den have become home to many breweries that all showcase their wares in quaint taprooms serving a wide range of progressive and experimental styles.

The ‘Bermondsey mile’, as it has become known, is considered to be a mecca for ale enthusiasts, and one of the most impressive stops drops you within a short walk of the ground.

Sheffield United (Bramall Lane)

For reasons why Sheffield United appears in the top five away days in the English football pyramid, look no further than their very own Greasy Chip Butty Song – and do consult the glossary for those unfamiliar with Yorkshire bitter and cheap tobacco.

You fill up my senses, Like a gallon of Magnet, Like a packet of Woodbines, Like a good pinch of snuff, Like a night out in Sheffield, Like a greasy chip butty, Like Sheffield United, Come thrill me again. Na na na na na...Ooooohh!

Glossary:

Magnet: A Yorkshire bitter brewed in Tadcaster by John Smith's.
Woodbines: Once the most iconic cigarette brand in England, rarely smoked anymore.
Snuff: Smokeless tobacco made from ground or pulverised tobacco leaves. It is inhaled or "snuffed" into the nasal cavity.
Greasy chip butty: Chips in a butty, preferably from Man Friday.

Fulham (Craven Cottage)

Go to Fulham for the cottage, stay for the cottage pie.

Built on the banks of the Thames there are few nicer grounds to visit in the country than this. Fans walk through Bishop’s Park and can enjoy a beer in the stadium, such is the civilised nature of its surrounds.

Across the river Putney Pies awaits hungry fans, or The Eight Bells for those with a thirst, nestled next to a quaint book shop and a rickety old tube station.

Wigan Athletic (DW Stadium)

Ever heard of a Wigan kebab, smack barm pey wet or a Babby's yed? They are just some of the delights on offer in Wigan’s famous pie and fish and chip shops.

The foremost delicacy is renowned in the local area and comprises a buttered barm (bread bun) with a meat and potato pie wedged in the middle. So popular is the carb-loading food staple, it even has its own Facebook page, but don’t shy away from a smack barm with a pea sauce (pey wet) too before taking a short stroll down the river to the DW.

You can also grab a good pint in the Wigan Central pub, where ales and ciders are served out of a converted train carriage. Anyone who hasn’t yet had their fill can choose from a selection of pork pies, cheese and scotch eggs.

Brighton and Hove Albion (AMEX Stadium)

On Brighton’s seafront, a short walk from Hove Station, lies a café that will make travelling football pans purr.

The coffee is freshly ground and locally roasted, as you might expect in the ‘hipster capital of the world’, and their breakfast danish, topped with a fried egg, bacon and black pudding, goes down a treat sat on the pebble beach, surrounded by hungry seagulls that peck away at wayward scraps of pastry and chirp gleefully in response.

A short walk from there is Brighton Beer Dispensary, with regular rotating beers chalked up behind the bar. You also have The Lanes or simply the beech, which has played host to countless tinned-up football fans over the years.

Leeds United (Elland Road)

You’ve heard of the Yorkshire Pirlo, but have you heard of the Yorkshire burrito?

Tucked away among the food stalls of Kirkgate Market, the Yorkshire Wrap Company serves slow-cooked meats in a Yorkshire pudding wrap with gravy and all the trimmings. Early birds will also be able to sample the breakfast wrap, with the contents of a full English delivered in the same style.

Wash it down with a Leeds Pale at The Brewery Tap or a bit of Faith from Northern Monk.

Bradford City (Valley Parade)

Ever wondered about the origins of Bradford City’s claret and amber strip? Rumour has it that it is probably based on the resemblance to the colours of either wine and beer or the locally loved rhubarb and custard, and you can be sure they will all be in good supply on any trip to Valley Parade.

Local brewers Timothy Tailors can be found on taps across the city, with one particular pub, the Sunbridge Wells, a must for those wanting to explore the city’s historic tunnels.

Of course, no trip would be complete without a good ruby to send you home. For that, the Curry Capital of the UK has an endless supply of top top places to eat. Try the Sultan Restaurant for a good Chicken Karahi, or PIND for a ‘taste of Lahore’.

Barrow (Holker Street)

Dave Myers and Martin Tarbuck have both written the book on pies. The former, as one half of the Hairy Bikers, from a cooking perspective and the latter from an eating perspective. But both came to the same conclusion that the best pie shop in the country isn’t to be found in Wigan, or in Melton Mowbray or even the East End of London but in the humble Cumbrian town of Barrow-in-Furness at Green’s Bakers.

For it is there that after sampling hundreds of baked delicacies across a two-year odyssey that Tarbuck cried out, “Yes! Yes! Yes! This is what I’ve been searching for!” as he sank his teeth into a delicious meat and potato creation. It was the very pie that Myers would eat as a child having been born nearby and still does whenever he returns.

Recalling his perfect pie moment in The Ultimate Pie Bible from the Kings of Pies, Myers points to "the smell of the freshly baked pies from the corner shop in Barrow," a scent that draws many hungry punters daily who queue down Jarrow Street to get a taste. Succulent meat with a hint of pepperiness and chunky potato is clothed in pastry that is both delicate and crisp yet sturdy enough to hold the substantial filling.

Any trip to Barrow is not complete without sampling one and then stuffing your backpack with several more for the journey home.

The Great Pie Revolt: A Gastronomic Guide to the Premier League and EFL is now available to buy from Waterstones.