By Paul Donegan
This ground guide is based on a visit to Hayes Lane to watch Crystal Palace play Reading in the Conti Cup on a cold Wednesday 17th November 2021 evening. Some of the pictures used are from a couple of other visits there this season (once to see Palace and another to see Bromley Ladies play) and of course things might be different if you decide to visit Hayes Lane.
Hayes Lane, Bromley, Kent, BR2 9EF
Location and Ground History
The Hayes Lane ground is in Bromley which is in south east London, about 10 miles from the centre of London. Hayes Lane stadium is to the south of Bromley town centre, off the B265. The ground opened in 1938 and has been home of Bromley FC since. Cray Wanderers FC also share the ground. The ground has a capacity of 5,000 with 1,300 seats.
Bromley South is the closest station and is well served by trains from London (Victoria (some trains to/from here are non-stop and take about 20 minutes) and Blackfriars stations) and into Kent (Orpington, Sevenoaks, Dover and Ramsgate). It is a 15/20 minute walk from Bromley South station to the ground. Hayes station is about a 25 minute walk in the other direction from the ground and Bromley North is the other side of the town centre, though there is no service to there on Sundays.
There are a few buses that go along Hayes Lane (119, 146 and 314) with the closest stops being Hayes Road/Hayes Lane or Hayes Lane/Norman Park/Mead Way. There is a car park at the ground and it costs £2 to park. Otherwise, it would be street parking near the ground. The ground is up a short driveway from Hayes Lane with some fields on either side where you might spot some horses.
I bought my ticket online (need to register with Crystal Palace if not already done so to buy) and it came as an attachment on the confirmation email which I printed off. Tickets can be bought at the ground (entrance desk) on the day and these can be paid for by cash or card. The price for adult tickets does increase by £2 if bought on the day of the match (both online or at the ground).
The way in for this match was through the main entrance at the back of the main stand where I showed my ticket at the desk and got my hand stamped. Then I went through the Ravens Bar (mind the step down just inside the door into the bar) and into the ground. The main stand (John Fiorini Stand), with the tunnel in the middle, is a seated covered stand but this was part of the red zone so it is only for the subs, press and VIPs. The bar is to the left of this with some flat uncovered standing in front of it and to the right is some uncovered terracing. The end to the right of the main stand is a covered seated stand (Glyn Beverly Stand) that covers the width of the pitch and all seats are unreserved. At the opposite end (left of the main stand) there is terracing with a narrow roof at the back of it and it is at this end that Crystal Palace fans put their flags up during matches.
The dugouts are opposite the main stand (subs have to go around the pitch when they are going to come on) and there is an uncovered terrace on this side that runs the whole length of the pitch with a tv camera position in the middle of it. The terracing on this side and behind the goal is amongst my favourites at any football ground as it is big, concrete, has a few crash barriers and, in my opinion, has a certain charm and character to it (as the whole ground does).
The ground has a 3G pitch which was installed in 2017 so matches can take place in most conditions (unless there is torrential rain but that is a different story!). There are toilets around the ground (mainly in the corners of the ground and a gents toilet under the main stand) as well as in the bar. Dogs are welcome in the ground as long as kept on leads.
Food and Drink
The Ravens Bar is spacious and has Sky Sports. If you want to have a drink in here, then payment is by cash or card. Even though there are windows overlooking the pitch from the bar, you cannot stay in there to watch the match as shutters are put down over the windows about 15 minutes before kick off. A tea/food cabin (Cookie’s Cabin) on the right hand side of the main stand was open for this match with a good selection of food and drinks available. Again, cash or card accepted.
As the Ravens Bar and Cookie’s Cabin are either side of the main stand and as you can’t walk in front of this, it is either a long walk around the pitch to get from one to the other or you could go back out the main entrance and in an exit gate at the other end of the main stand (I guess this might have been the reason for the hand stamps). Bromley town centre has plenty of place to eat and drink and this is about a 20 minute walk or 5/10 minutes bus ride away.
There were some scarfs and whole squad pictures available to buy at the entrance desk which again you could pay by cash or card. There is normally an online programme for matches with a link posted on their Twitter page and you can look at it for free but there wasn’t one for this match.
Editor's note: There is an official Crystal Palace Merchanside shop in The Glades, the shopping centre in Bromley Town, approximately a fifteen minute walk away. The shop is located on the second floor opposite Lush.