This weekend, Newcastle take an unfamiliar trip for a league game. After years of facing up to Premier League giants in some of the world best stadia, Rafa Benitez’s men will face Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium in front of just under 7,000 fans, a stark contrast to the Emirates or Old Trafford of which United fans will perhaps be more used to. The Brewers are certainly an unknown quantity and no one really knows what to expect from Saturday’s game so here a small look at the Staffordshire side.
Burton were formed in 1950 in the Staffordshire town of Burton Upon Trent, a town associated with brewing beer rather than football, making their shock rise to the Championship even more surprising. The Brewers started their life in the Birmingham and District League and at first saw a slow start to life as a football club, taking the usual hard route of pressing through various divisions in the quest for glory and saw very little success and constant changes between the Northern and Southern Divisions of the Non League set up due to league rearrangements. However, Burton gained their breakthrough in the 2001/02 season when they won the Northern Premier Division by a margin of 15 points, allowing the club into the Conference for the first time in their history and most importantly being just one step away from the Football League.
The club were in the Conference for many seasons after this, however, the club was brought to national attention when they drew European giants Manchester United at home in the FA Cup they managed to pull off a great goalless draw and took Sir Alex Ferguson’s to a replay at Old Trafford. Despite taking a record 11,000 to Old Trafford, Burton were trounced by Sir Alex Ferguson’s men 5-0 on the night.
Albion found themselves at the top of the Conference in February 2009 by an extraordinary 19 points, however, after a publicity stunt by league sponsors Blue Square which declared them as the league winners their form dipped but the club succeeded in their aims and gained promotion to the Football League for the first time in the club’s history. In their first season in League 2, they finished a respectable 13th in the table. However, by the 2012/13 season Burton were in the play offs. Yet, they lost out to Bradford in the semis and the following season, they once again reached the play offs, this time getting to the final, however, they once again failed to make the cut, being defeated by Fleetwood 1-0.
However, in the next season, Jimmy Floyd Hasslebank took over and took the Brewers to the top of the table and into League 1 for the first time. Hasslebank left in December 2015 to take charge of Queens Park Rangers with Burton employing current manager Nigel Clough who led them into the Championship where they sit now.
Saturday will be interesting and arguably a testament to just how Burton have come as they face Newcastle United in the same division for the first time. United fans will undoubtedly be excited to visit a place in which they have never been and the fixture could be one to watch this weekend.