Fortune’s Always Hiding
In last weeks’ blog we bid farewell to Tottenham’s famous White Hart Lane, as the old ground is slowly engulfed by the monster new construction on the same site. As yet unnamed, fans will probably be hoping it retains at least some of the classic Lane name rather than succumbing to sponsors, as Arsenal and Man City’s newer stadiums did. In these strange times where we find the English League Cup being named after a Taiwanese energy drink it probably wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if Spurs found themselves kicking off 2018/19 in the ‘Powerade Arena’.
Unable to play with much conviction at their temporary Wembley home, Spurs won 3-2 away at West Ham’s London Stadium last weekend, our construction topic for this week:
In 2016, West Ham United played their last ever game at Upton Park, otherwise known as the Boleyn Ground. Their historic home since 1904, the club shunned heritage and moved across the city to the shiny London Stadium that had been lying dormant for four years since the 2012 Olympics.
Spurs actually tendered a bid for the stadium in 2010 when facing difficulties with the application for what would eventually become their current project. Another club who bid were Leyton Orient, then a League One side with gates of around 6,000 (who now find themselves two levels lower in the Conference) but were not a big enough side to warrant such a ground. Ultimately, West Ham were successful and so began the long and winding road towards making the stadium suitable for football.
The transformation involved the construction of around 15,000 retractable seats in the lower tier that allow the stadium to function as both an Olympic running track and the lower tier of a football stadium. This makes the stadium UEFA Category 4.
The issues seem to be with what these temporary seats are made of. As the image to the right shows, it does have an air of slapdash about it, resembling a construction site or the away end at Gillingham (one for the other League One-club-supporting readers) rather than a state-of-the-art Premier League arena.
It hasn’t been what you would call a smooth transition for the Hammers. Fans have expressed their dissatisfaction at a number of elements – such as the lack of an atmosphere, being too far away from the pitch and a feeling that the stadium just isn’t fit to host football. In a match against Bournemouth in August 2016, some fans actually arrived with tickets for seats that simply did not exist. Home sweet home.
In the Morson League this week, you must take your hats off to client services director Steve Seddon, who remains in great form with his Stevie’s Wonders side and finds himself 4th place, or as Arsene Wenger calls it, “1st place”. He definitely wins an award for being consistent over the weeks (though he’ll have to substitute Aguero after his unfortunate incident with a Dutch lamppost) – safe as houses, rarely dropping out of the top ten but not quite setting the league on fire. Perhaps we should get him a Stoke shirt to say well done.
No change at the bottom, with UGLYBENNYCO still doing his best Crystal Palace impression.