Writer: Eamonn Moore
Date:Friday August 20 2010
The Emirates Stadium - Arsenal
Trips to the capital used to mean Barnet, Orient and more recently Palarse, but if ever fans needed a reminder of what promotion means to us, as fans, then take a minute when you get inside the ground this Saturday just to stare at where we are playing and hopefully you'll realise how far we have come. Dreamland? Well it couldn't have got off to a better start but as tests go on the road they won't come much tougher than this.
How To Get There:
M55, M6 South. M1 South. Exit at junction 2, following signs for Holloway / Central London (The City) / A1. The A1 merges into the Great North Way after about a mile, which should be followed for a further mile before taking a slight left onto the North Circular Road. After about ½ a mile take a right into Falloden Way and continue to follow the A1 for a further 3½ miles, turning left into Sandridge Street. There is a sharp left turn after approx. 1½ miles onto Hornsey Road. Take the third exit at the roundabout, leading to Ashburton Grove.
Sat Navvers - N5 1BU
Parking - strict match day parking restrictions operate around the ground. Additionally, there is a total ban on vehicle movement in surrounding roads, one hour either side of the start and finish of a match. For those with no alternative to driving, parking at a tube station some way from the ground is recommended (Cockfosters is popular), Arnos Grove in North London, just south of Barnet, park in a street for free and then get on the underground and it's only 2 stops to Highbury & Islington.
For the Virgin lovers amongst us - Euston, then the tube. The nearest convenient tube station is Arsenal, on the Piccadilly Line, just a few minutes from the Emirates. Upon exit, turn right, following Drayton Park Road and using one of the railway brides to reach the stadium. Other convenient tube stations are Finsbury Park (Piccadilly Line) and Highbury & Islington (Victoria Line) stations are around a 10-minute walk - these should be slightly less crowded.
Drayton Park station, located very near the ground is closed at weekends.
Samm Airways - The nearest airport to the Emirates Stadium is London Heathrow at a distance of about 19 miles. The Heathrow tube station connects with the Piccadilly
I was fortunate enough to visit Highbury when we last played there in the cup. It was a ground with real character. When Arsenal played some Champions League games at Wembley I thought they had ideas above their station, step forward the Emirates. Room for 60,432 the ground is certainly pleasant on the eyes but as with virtually every new ground it lacks the feel of the old place.
After 93 years at Highbury in 2006 Arsenal moved the short distance to their new home. The stadium was designed by HOK Sport (who also designed Stadium Australia in Sydney, which was used for the Olympics) and cost £390m to build.
It has been named the Emirates Stadium in a ten year corporate sponsorship deal.
It is the only football stadium in this country that is four tiered. The lower tier is large and shallow, set well back from the playing surface as a cinder track surrounds the playing area. A small second tier, which is called the Club tier, has seating, but is only eight rows high. Inside it has a number of lounges/restaurants, earning it the nickname the 'prawn circle'. This Club tier slightly overhangs the bottom tier.
The third tier is even smaller, being entirely comprised of executive boxes, some 150 in total and fits entirely under the large fourth tier. This fourth tier, known as the upper tier, has been designed in a semi circular fashion and is topped by an impressive looking roof, that includes a lot of visible white tubular steelwork and perspex panels to allow more light to get to the pitch. The roofs though do not follow the semi circular shape of the stands but in fact run across the top of them and even dip down towards them giving them a strange look. Two large video screens situated in the North West & South East corners, below the roof line, complete the place.
We'll be sat in the Lower tier of the south-east corner, with an allocation of 3,000 padded seats. Plenty of leg room here. Fans who have been to the ground say the home fans are very close, be prepared to cover the young ones' ears.
Where to Drink:
The Blackstock pub has received decent reviews from visiting fans.
The Drayton Arms which overlooks the ground is the nearest pub suitable for visiting fans but is very busy on match days. Ale is on sale inside the ground, but be aware the food is pricey and reported as poor quality for the money. Otherwise it'll be Fullers Pride in the capitals finest.
Plod & Stewards
Hello Mr Met, remember us? Barnet 1991... Usual sit down or be thrown out attitude adopted by the stewards.
Fear Factor Rating - 3.
What a week. We're up via a great day out in London, next game in we take in a local trip and end up top of the table, albeit for a couple of hours, then the Chairman only goes and says enough's enough. We've all dreamed of days like these, a top 4 club in the league and who can't say we've not earned it. There's been some turbulent times over the Oyston years, life following the mighty has never been dull but at the moment let's just enjoy the ride and reflect on where we are. Just think, come 5pm Saturday someone somewhere will be sat bottom of a lower league and have some real worries on their plate.
Onwards + Upwards
Date:Friday August 20 2010
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