Sunday, 30 September 2007

Awaydays #6 - West Ham

The club: West Ham United (The Hammers), Boleyn Ground [Upton Park]

The ground: Hi hopes for a Premier League ground and the stadium is certainly impressive looking, however is no better than any other Championship ground. Three stands are joined together all two tiered with the huge high backed Dr Martens stand, and a separate smaller East stand. The outside of the Dr Martens stand is imposing and impressionable. The Centenary stand lower level houses the away fans and is very compact, with seating close to the pitch and a shallow rake to the stand, meaning a restricted view for some supporters. There are two large video screens in opposite corners. 7/10

The facilities and food: The concourse is very small, stark and cramped for the amount of supporters,in fact the largest space to be found in the gents toilet. There was only one refreshment bar open and no organisation and resulted in a near permanent rugby scrum - however the bar remained open throughout the game. They were also very unorganised - the hot food was not ready by the time they opened, resulting in poor pies. 5/10

The stewarding/police: As befits a London club, a very large police presence around the ground with patrols, mounted police and vans every hundred yards or so, inside the ground the stewarding and police action was minimal. 8/10

The travelling: Awful - everybody decided to have an accident, meaning long tailbacks and jams, as well as the usual heavy London traffic taking nearly as long to cross London than get there. Access to the ground is limited as well as parking, which can be found several streets away but the authority specifically target football traffic parked on restrictions and will lift a vehicle sharpish. Upton Park Tube station gets very crowded and crowd restrictions can get put in place. A trip through central London is by far a nicer and quicker way to go even if they do charge! 2/10

The surrounding area (what's there to do outside the ground): Not an away fan friendly area with supporters having to walk some distance though Green Street is full of take aways and stalls. If you arrive early you can easily jump on a Tube and get to central London. 5/10

The home fans (their contribution to the atmosphere etc): Apart from "Bubbles" which makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, like a lot of home fans they can be quiet, however any sound they do make does not travel well to the home end. 4/10

Total score: 31/60

Awaydays League Table:

Barnsley (Oakwell Stadium) - 42
Hull City (KC Stadium) - 38
QPR (Loftus Road) - 36

West Ham (Boleyn Ground) - 31
Stoke City (Britannia Stadium) - 28
Torquay United (Plainmoor) - 27

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