With all the craziness that’s happened this year, I realized that I never shared about our trip to England over the Christmas Holiday. The So Cal Soccer Dad is British and his family all still live in England, just outside London. We travel back every few years, but this year we had a once in a lifetime (well, hopefully it might happen again!) opportunity to go to an English Premier League Arsenal match at Emirates Stadium in London. We happened to know somebody that knows somebody and not only did we get free tickets, but they were in a club level luxury box. After all the EPL games we’ve watched on TV, we were all excited to see a football match live.
As the day finally came and we emerged from the tube station, the atmosphere was festive and expectant. Fans wearing the Arsenal red and white were everywhere and the giant glass and steel walls of the modern stadium loomed over the closed streets making a marked contrast with the row houses next door. It’s such a different feeling than our giant stadiums surrounded by even larger parking lots. I’ve never been to Fenway Park in Boston, but I imagine the atmosphere is similarly intimate- very strange for this So Cal native.
Entering the stadium we felt very posh going in a special entrance and being ushered up to the club level lounge. There were many food vendors as well as various pool tables and games. As nice as the level was, the most important feature was that it was indoors as it was freezing outside and then the sky opened up and the rain poured down. (Of course there are no rain delays in EPL- they would never play!) After eating dinner, we walked up to our private box that came complete with a restroom, television, drinks as well as (covered!) outdoor seats in front. I giggled a bit about the tea service set out for our “cuppa”- no question we were in England!
As lovely and warm as the box was, as the game began, we all went to sit outside so that we could experience the “singing” (My hubby always tells me it’s chanting, but it sounds like singing to me) and the fans. The atmosphere was electric and intense- I read on wikipedia that there is a 40,000 person waiting list for season tickets! I found it particularly interesting that the small Newcastle away section was completely surrounded by yellow coated security guards. Although the game started out close, Arsenal proceeded to score 7 goals to Newcastles’ 3. The filled to capacity, 60,000 person stadium was rocking! If all games were like that, I think soccer would be exponentially more popular in America. What do you think?
Overall it was an amazing experience and my favorite part of our trip. (although Paris was nice too…) Our next trip across the pond I would love to go another game…maybe Old Trafford this time?