Yesterday I experienced my first Premier League match: Arsenal against West Ham United. A gift for a friend of mine, this had been planned for some time, but even the meticulous planning did not stop me from being quite apprehensive about the whole experience, as British footie fans aren’t particularly known for their friendliness. I shouldn’t have worried, as the whole shindig went down without any hitch. With some current mobility probs, my mate and I didn’t want to do the whole trip via the tube with numerous changes and trips through tunnels, so we drove to Walthamstow Central and took the Victoria line to Finsbury park and walked the last kilometer. This turned out to be an inspired choice, but more about this later. On our arrival at the club level of the Emirates stadium we were not only impressed with the spontaneous helpfulness of the staff, but also with the general relaxed atmosphere within the whole level. No queues for beer, no queues for the loo. It was a bit like being in a football supporters wet dream.
Now I am not your average football supporter. First of all, I actually don’t like football that much. There’s just not that much computers involved, the supporters are quiten often rather disagreeable and violent chaps, and going to an actual stadium often involves being possibly beaten up. If at all, I am likely to watch the European and World Cup finals every two years and then have my fill. I do follow the harrowing travails of that most idiotic of all German clubs for foolish patriotic and sentimental reasons beyond my comprehension and am sure that this caused me to acquire male pattern baldness by the age of 25, but this is the only club I have any interest in. That and Leyton Orient, Dumbarton FC and Otago United. But I wouldn’t go so far and actually go and see a game there. I’d rather skim the results in the Guardian’s sport section and be done with it.
Anyway, that present had to be converted into reality and so I acquired said club level tickets and found myself in the Emirates stadium. And what a handsome place it is. Much nicer than the rather functional German stadiums of my university years, this was rather delectable to look at and sit in and didn’t feel claustrophobic. The punters were delightfully multicultural and of all colours and creed, united in their wish to see their team to win. Without much swearing, to my surprise.
After the game was finished it took us ten minutes past good natured police men and women to get to Finsbury Park station were we got the first train without having to queue, with other words: perfect.
Conclusion: I’ll take some of the things I’ve said about English footie back, although I suspect that most of the good time I had was due to the perfect storm of Arsenal’s pleasant fans, perfect stadium and easy access.
Nice one, nevertheless.