I wanted to let it all sink in…this new era, this great leap forward! West Ham United (London) will never be the same again, but will the team fade and die like bubbles or rise like the phoenix of the stadium we have inherited? Only time will truly tell, but this stadium is built for success. Other supporters may laugh, but this is a stadium built for the big stage, it’s a stadium one would expect to see for a Champions League game, not a Championship one.
The entrance, as you can see, is impressive. Upton Park looks like a reserve team structure in comparison. The club have done a good job of making this our home, with banners and livery providing impactful branding. The look is one of ‘wow’…it demands a photographic moment, and away fans will on the most part be momentarily breathless. This is no longer small club, this a club knocking on the door of the elite.
Inside, there are stunning moments to be captured, such as the one above. Like I say, it’s a big stage. There were no queues to get in and once inside, toilets and food were seamless experiences. This may have something to do with the lack of alcohol for sale, but I imagine it will be repeated for the Premiership. Seats are larger than Upton Park and there is significantly more legroom. No longer am I waiting the inevitable kick in the back from the seat behind me. This is a comfortable experience….too comfortable? Too sanitised? Possibly, but what was the alternative? Patch up Upton Park for eternity in the name of nostalgia? Look at the clubs around us, where would holding us back get us? This move let us get with the times, we are a destination, a club players want to sign for, I really feel this is the start of a new era. A new vision…talking of which….
The view, ah yes, the view. It’s strange, I won’t deny it. I’m sitting in the lower end of the upper tier behind the goal. Below me are empty seats that the lower tier seating has been placed over. There’s a walkway to the lower tier and a spacious disabled section. It’s quite a way to the pitch. The goals at the other end were visible although the minutiae of Kouyate’s deft back flick was missed. The gap from touchline to managerial bench is particularly long and I wonder if Slaven eventually insists on a temporary solution that is further forward. It’s different, I’ll miss seeing the whites of Andy Carroll’s eyes as he ran towards the corner flag in the old East Stand, but this is okay. I imagine the players are enjoying it, certainly Noble and Nordveidt looked like they loved bossing it around the park. What a lovely player Nordveidt is, he will be our un-sung her o of the season.
Those bemoaning the lack of atmosphere should remember there was no away support to speak of. There were also plenty of times of quiet moments at Upton Park so let’s not pretend it was a constant whirlwind of noise. I can’t wait for a derby match on a cold Tuesday night here, I think it the atmosphere will be electric.
As you can tell, I’m generally happy with what we have, I believe it represents real progress. Yes, I miss Upton Park and loved the place, but to top it all, my journey home was 100 times more pleasant than the nightmare queuing and rude stewarding of Upton Park station. Welcome to the 21st century folks, West Ham United have truly arrived….first London, soon the world…