2nd game of my journey on London for Easter 2019, I enjoy a home match of the Hammers to discover their « famous » new speaker so much criticized by the old regulars of Upton Park. I knew that this stadium built for purposes other than football (and therefore not funded by the East London club to the rage of other surrounding clubs such as Charlton or Leyton East who shout to unfair competition) would not meet expectations an active football fan but I wanted to make my own opinion in situ . I was not going to be disappointed …
The London Stadium is very easily accessible from the nearest Tube station which gives into a large shopping center. It’s impossible not to find the stadium because it’s enough to follow the cohort of fans who go there along some streets closed to the traffic within a district of ultra modern buildings. The stadium itself is located in the Olympic Park in the middle of beautiful green areas and a nice little stream. The environment is therefore rather less disappointing than imagined even if no traditional shop (fish and chips or other pubs) is present nearby (it is therefore not in the presence of the classic English stadium fully inserted in the surrounding streets and arising at the last moment).
Once past the security checks and the famous turnstiles, you reach the edge of the stadium where the food trucks are hyper numerous. An impression of funfair emerges that is not really to my taste. Nevertheless home fans and fans of Leicester seem to be pleased to see the long tails at each of the stands.
In the corridors of the stadium, many panels retrace the history of the club, its iconic players, its various coats of arms etc … By cons, no trace (or at least I have not seen) of the late Upton Park. In keeping with the club’s desire to customize the stadium (which they sold to supporters as a future sweet home), flags on the street lights further personalize the London Stadium by recalling special moments of the club.
It was time to enter the stands. I deliberately chose a place next to the fans away to ensure a minimum of atmosphere. So I was cornering and on the top of the stand. And here, the dreaded catastrophe is revealed: I am at tens of meters of the ground since an immense tarpaulin separates me from the bottom of the tribune, the 1st ranks of this same stand being themselves already very far from the lawn because the presence of a track that for the first time (and the leaders had made a sacred pub) was covered with a carpet in the colors of the club (a long feud had opposed the owners of the stadium and West Ham to know what color to put and who was to pay this carpet.Eye yes when we do not own his stadium, we do not what we want in it. No need to have done Saint Cyr to anticipate but good leaders of West Ham are sacred incompetent so nothing surprising.
The best part of the stand is based on scaffolding visible from my place. For an allegedly modern stadium, one thinks to dream!
Can we talk about atmosphere as the Hammers fans were amorphous ?! It is true that by remaining prostrate on his seat busy ingesting junk food (especially popcorn & coca), it is difficult to be active! So apart from the famous anthem of the club (« I’m forever blowing bubbles » sung by accompanying a soundtrack, the height!) And some « Come on you Irons », nothing to report. Leicester fans did not hesitate to taunt the ersatz club that became West Ham by sending them a spice: « You’re not West Ham anymore! ». Close the ban.
Fortunately, the Foxes fans, most of them standing on the top of their stand, were present because they ensured a good atmosphere and the 2 goals of the Foxes gave them the opportunity to provoke my sleeping neighbors.
The field game was animated with 4 goals in total for a final result of 2-2. Jamie Vardy was twirling and the game pleasant. But in such a place, difficult to find a real pleasure in the meeting.
The groundhopping experience
If you like traditional English football and want a little atmosphere, go your way: the London Stadium will despair you! Unlike club sales to Hammers fans, the London Stadium is, in fact, anything but a football stadium. As for the fans of the Hammers, they were for the least pathetic of passivity. I knew the West Ham of Upton Park ( read our experience in this old stadium ), that of the cockneys of East London. Now there is the West Ham « modern », that of the pop corns and « supporters » in the American sauce. All my condolences.
Article written by @olivierlaval