travelled to the Emirates on the opening day of
the 2006/7 season with the travelling Villa
support. Not only was it the first ever League
game at the stadium, but it was also the first
game of Martin O'Neill's reign as manager, so a
red letter day all round!
capacity increased by 22,000 from the old
adjacent Highbury I was prepared for some
glitches - I should not have worried. From
past experience I know that parking
restrictions around the ground are enforced
with the vigour of an old East European
State so took the train and tube. At Kings
Cross there are plenty of signs urging you
to take the Victoria line to either Finsbury
Park or Highbury and Islington tube
stations. This is a bit misleading going
there because Arsenal tube is much closer.
Nonetheless the walk from Finsbury Park is
less than ten minutes and is quite pleasant.
Externally it has the presence of the Millennium Stadium, but is much more attractive with glass balconies looking out. Far more architecturally coherent than Old Trafford it has a beauty only matched by the City of Manchester Stadium at Eastlands. Huge wide concourses lead to the ground from the road which is situated on an "island". The signposting is excellent. Outside there are refreshment stands and toilets! Access is via a tedious computer coded ticket at an electronically activated turnstile "manned" by a steward like at Man City and West Brom. What was wrong with a turnstile operator?
Inside the concourses are huge, food selection is wide, if predictably expensive, and the toilets ample. Inside the stadium is breathtaking with room for 3,000 away fans on the south eastern lower tier. The seats are a large enough to accommodate the fattest of backsides and are padded! The views are totally unobstructed. The only criticism being that in the lower tier the rake of the seats is quite shallow when everyone stands up. The rear of the lower tier is overhung by about a dozen rows by the upper tier creating a pleasingly noisy sound chamber akin to the back of the Anfield Rd End at Liverpool. The atmosphere with the Arsenal fans was excellent, although this may change when they get themselves organised. The opportunity for object dropping from the middle tier is immense. But with seats priced at £94 for cat A games and £66 for category B games, I suppose you will get a better class of object dropped on you! The lower tier of the "new " North Bank will never replace the old one. The middle tier was deserted in totality at half time as patrons availed themselves of canapés, prawn sandwiches and tea.
After the game everyone was let out together, as it should be, and we followed the signs to the closer Highbury & Islington station. Arsenal tube is much smaller and is much mess able to cope with the sudden post match surge of fans as opposed to the pre match staggered stream.!0 minutes walk, roads closed to traffic by the Police, who also controlled access to the tube and we flew away! Amazing and well done to the club and police for the organisation.
At long last the Capital has a club ground to be really proud of. And the Folly of the new Wembley grows more absurd by the day.
Are you an away or general football fan who has visited the Emirates Stadium recently?
If so why not submit your own review of the ground and general day out?
Find out more about how to submit a review
Return To The Arsenal Page Of The Guide
Football Ground Guide Index