The start of the new football season is upon us and for many completing the 92, a must do visit is West Ham’s new London Stadium (or the Olympic Stadium as it was known back in 2012).
Due to Europa League qualification, it meant a qualifying game would have to take place at the London Stadium before the start of the Premier League season. This meant for many groundhoppers, there was an early opportunity to visit their new home.
We purchased our £10 tickets (not to mention £4.00 booking fee for the pleasure of printing your own ticket!) as soon as they went on general sale. Both Adrian and I (Ross) had a day off work to have a day out in London before the match in the evening.
Before we set off, we made a brief stop at the home of the Premier League champions (yes Leicester City) to go and purchase our Champions League tickets.
Shortly after, we found ourselves traveling down the M1 making a brief stop at Toddington services before continuing our journey down the M1 and onto the M25. We came off the M25 at junction 26 for Debden parking just outside Rectory Lane Health Centre. We made the short 5 minute walk down to Debden Underground Station and took the Central Line to Stratford. When we arrived in Stratford, we decided to go and view the London Stadium before heading towards White Hart Lane.
Before we visited White Hart Lane, we had our lunch in the 3 Points Cafe on High Road.
Tottenham Hotspur are currently having a new stadium built behind their existing North Stand. As the work has progressed, it has been necessary for the demolition of the North East corner so foundations can be laid for the new stadium.
After walking around White Hart Lane viewing the building work, we hopped back onto the train going towards Camden Lock making a change at Seven Sisters and Highbury & Islington getting the Overground train to Camden Road.
After exploring the hustle and bustle of Camden (and having a free Coca Cola outside the Tube station!), we decided to make our way back to Stratford ahead of West Ham’s big European night.
When we arrived in Stratford, we went inside the shopping centre to get a hot drink and a Belgian bun each from Greggs and enjoyed them outside in the evening sunshine.
We then made our way up Montfichet Road heading towards the London Stadium to absorb the pre-match atmosphere.
In the evening sunshine, the stadium looked fantastic and very similar to stadiums of Europe due to the vast amount of space and modern surrounds.
A visit to West Ham is probably not for those who find long walks difficult. We found walking from Stratford station to the stadium is quite a long walk not to mention the long walk around the stadium before the match.
London Stadium (previously the Olympic Stadium during the London 2012 Olympics) has a capacity of 60,000 seats and is a multi-use stadium. The stadium now mainly caters for football but seats can be retracted for the use of the running track for athletics. Since the 2012 Olympics, the stadium has been transformed with the installation of a larger spanning roof (at the time of writing this, the largest spanning roof in the world), new floodlights in a similar style to the previous and the reconfiguration of the lower tier seating to accommodate football.
The biggest concern for most fans was the distance between the pitch and the seating due to the stadiums oval shape and the running track. The seating in the lower tier is a temporary structure which can be moved forward to be closer to the pitch whilst in football mode. When the stadium is changed to athletics mode, the lower tier seating is moved back to unveil the running track underneath.
West Ham have moved from their previous home, the intimidating Upton Park, that they owned to the friendlier London Stadium which they will rent from the Newham Council (ask Coventry City fans about the success of renting…). Time will tell of how successful this move will be.
So the first competitive opponents at West Ham United’s controversial new home were not one of England’s or the one of the world’s famous clubs, but the little known NK Domzale from Slovenia in a Europa League qualifying game.
West Ham were actually trailing 2-1 from the 1st leg, but never looked in real danger of going out of the completion and were put at ease with two goals in 20 minutes from Kouyate.
His first flicking home a Sam Byrom pass, his second a smart finish following excellent link up play from Carroll and Antonio. This put the Hammers 3-2 up in the tie and although NK Domzale did create a couple of half chances, West Ham never looked threatened. A looping header in the first half comfortably dealt with by keeper Darren Randolph, and his only real save, in the second from Crnic. The midfielder cutting in from the left to fire a right foot shot which Randolph saved diving to his left.
The fans were making their way out of the stadium from 78 minutes and many would have missed the best goal of the game, an excellent ball played over the defence by Noble and a good finish by new signing Sofiane Feghouli.
It finished 3-0 to West Ham, 4-2 on aggregate, a comfortable win in their new surroundings before an attendance of just under 54,000 (breaking the previous attendance record of 42,322 during a match at Upton Park against Tottenham Hotspur in 1970).
It will take fans a while to get used to their new home, the atmosphere was muted, maybe when there are away fans in the stadium it will be different but despite the large crowd, the noise level, in our experience not as intimidating as Upton Park.
After the match, we made a quick dash for the exits heading back around the stadium towards Montfichet Road. The stadium operators had Stratford station well organised with barriers in place and the shopping centre closed off as all the supported piled towards the Underground station. By 10pm, we were on our train leaving Stratford and we eventually got back to the car for 10:30pm.
Once we were on the M25 our first issue was the M1 slip road being closed without any warning, forcing us to go through Hemal Hempstead to join the M1. Once we were on the M1, the average speed cameras were in full use slowing the journey down. We eventually got back to Adrian’s house for around 12:20am and I got home at around 12:45am with work the next day.
Overall Ground Quality : 9/10
Ease of getting there : 8/10
Atmosphere : 7/10
Programme : 8/10
View of Action : 7/10
Quality of the game : 6/10
The “football” feeling : 8/10
Chances of coming here for a random game : 7/10
Legroom : 10/10
Surrounding area : 9/10
Overall : 79/100
Aerial shot of the London Stadium
Programme – £3.50
ArcelorMittal Orbit and the London Stadium
ArcelorMittal Orbit and the London Stadium
The Olympic Park
Atmosphere building around the stadium
West Ham United
West Ham United supporters making their way to their new home
Lyrics of their famous song circling the stadium
Remains of the London 2012 Olympics
The temporary lower tier
The gap between the lower and upper tier