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Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant
Emirates Stadium (Arsenal)
Member Name: freediveheaven
Emirates Stadium (Arsenal)
Advantages: Great modern stadium
Disadvantages: Crowding on the way out
Home to the countries finest football team, Arsenal, on Saturday those attending were not just entering a new place of worship we were also there to pay homage to Dennis Berkamp who has retired after spending the last eleven years playing for Arsenal (loyalty that is amazing in a foreign player something Cashley Cole may do well to reflect on) with great skill, panache and the occasional elbow.
Arsenal have long needed a new stadium, the old home Highbury could only hold 38k and tickets were hard to come by so a new stadium was always needed as the location of Highbury and the fact that parts of it were listed meant that it could not be extended. Fortunately Islington Council were desperate to keep the club within the borough and the new site for Emirates is a mere two minute walk away from the old ground.
Located in North London the ground is best reached via the underground. There is a choice of two stations. Arsenal tube station is on the Piccadilly line and is the closest to the ground as you can see the old West Stand of Highbury as you exit the station. As you get off the train you will see the old tiles on the wall with the name Gillespie Road which was the original name for the stadium and those supporters of the scum, sorry Tottenham (old habits die hard) still refer to it by its old name. One point of warning is that this is a small tube station and is prone to crowding, indeed after the game the queues stretch along Gillespie Road as people try to enter. As you exit the station turn right and follow the road around and you will see Emirates Stadium ahead of you.
An alternative tube station is Finsbury Park which is served by both the Piccadilly and Victoria lines and an overland service. It is a fifteen minute walk to the ground and is easy as you just follow the crowds or the smell of the fast food. Also at Finsbury Park you will find the Arsenal Shop however there is a newer and bigger one at the ground and with more choice.
Another alternative is Highbury and Islington Station which is on the Victoria and Northern Line. Even though it looks close you are strongly advised not to get off at Holloway Road station as there is no escalator and you either have to crowd into one of two lifts or face a long climb up some dusty circular stairs and there is a very real danger of getting crushed.
Driving to the ground is not easy and the local parking restrictions cover a large part of the Finsbury Park area which has a permit parking system for residents only which apply during the week and on match days.
Finsbury Park is also a major bus terminal should the tube not be running and has a large number of buses travelling through it.
Even with an increased capacity of 60, 000 the chances of getting a ticket are slim if you are not a member of the club so your best bet is to make friends with a Gooner who is a member or pay a tout. Already tickets for the opening Premiership game of the season against Aston Villa (a manager less bunch of no hopers from Birmingham) are changing hands for £250.00. In fact touts will find it increasingly hard to come by tickets as all members who buy a ticket have them added to their membership card electronically meaning that it cannot be sold on at a later date. Prices are likely to range from £30 up to £90 dependant upon the category of game and the seat you sit in.
This is a fine looking stadium. As you turn the corner at the end of Gillespie Road you are confronted with the structure rising up in front of you. The approach to the ground is across one of two wide bridges at either end of the ground. The frontage is a mixture of glass with white piping rising out of the top to form arches around the top of the stands. Through the glass you can see people looking out from the bars and restaurant within the North Stand and the large red club badge with the artillery canon on it pointing north to Shite Hart Lane is prominent around the stadium.
Inside the ground the quality of the new build just shines through. Like most modern stadiums this is a bowl design rather than the old miss match of square stands of older stadiums. In order to keep the aesthetic appeal of the stadium in line with the curves on the outside the seats are set out in such a way that the top row rises and falls to four points at either end of the stadium and at the sides so that at each point there is a top row of maybe 20 seats with the next row having 24 etc until it levels off before starting to rise again towards the next point.
In designing the seats it would appear that the designers took notice of the average shirt size purchased in the club shop and the number of pies consumed as the seats are very spacious with a decent amount of leg room, gone of the days when you found some fat blokes right buttock on your seat and when you did sit down your knees were up to your ears and Iím not talking about the good way when your girlfriend / wife/ mistress assumes that position.
There are no bad views in the stadium as there are no annoying pillars to get in the way. One thing I did notice was that there was no clock in the stadium nor was the time shown on either of the two large electronic scoreboards, hopefully this will be sorted out by the time the first competitive game kicks off. The pitch looks immaculate and for those who visited Highbury where the pitch was one of the smallest in the country the new pitch at the Emirates is visibly larger which just gives Henry more space to work in. The real test will be to see how well the pitch holds up in February as new stadiums often have pitch problems due to the lack of air and sunlight which gets to the grass during the week.
Food and beer are important parts of any visit to a football ground. Located in a residential area there is no shortage of places to get food outside the ground however immediately outside the ground once you get past Arsenal Tube station there are no burger vans due to possible congestion problems.
Arsenal may have a new ground but the standard of food inside the ground has not improved with the usual fare of burgers and piesí setting you back between £3 to £4 and it does not get any better with a coffee costing £1.50 and beer a whopping £3.20 a pint. My advice is to eat outside the ground in one of the local cafes which offer great value and much greater choice.
Those nice people at Ladbrokes will also help relieve you of some money at any one of their numerous betting outlets within the ground.
The one bit of good news is the fact that the toilets are sparkling clean and well maintained but then this was the first full game so you would expect that.
Be aware that it used to take a while to get away from the ground when Highbury held 38k and the streets have not got any wider and the stations are the same size so with 60k leaving the ground it will be very crowded with long queues at Arsenal tube station and a filter system in operation at Finsbury Park as the station is currently under going renovation. Still the stadium is great to look at and the screens will show the highlights of the game so sit back and enjoy.
This is a fantastic looking stadium with good facilities and nice wide seats which offer great views of the playing surface. The atmosphere will be electric with the increased capacity giving many fans a better chance of seeing the team they love. It is not the easiest ground to get to and certainly it is not easy to get away from, all I hope for now it that it is equally hard for opposition teams to earn any points at.
Definately recommended even though the Dooyoo system fault means it has a "no" at the bottom of the review.
For more information and loads of pictures check out
Thanks for reading and rating my review and a pox on anyone who leaves any comments that deride my team, you are all just jealous.
Summary: New stadium of Arsenal football club.
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