Today I made my way to that there London and my first taste of West Ham United's new home at the London Stadium (née Olympic Stadium). As it was my first ever first visit to E20 I thought I would add my two penneth worth by doing a brief write up on my day out.
This is The Hammers' debut season at their new surroundings after leaving their beloved, and intimidating, Boleyn Ground after 112 years at the end of the 2015/16 season.
I made my way to Stratford, from Euston via underground to Highbury & Islington then overground to Hackney Wick. The ground is a fifteen minute walk from here but, naturally, I went via the excellent Howling Hops Tank Bar and it's equally good next door neighbour, The Crate Brewery.
The London Stadium was built as the centre piece for the 2012 London Olympic Games and was obviously designed primarily as an athletics venue. Part of the post games legacy was the use for future events, with the stadium being converted into a multi-purpose stadium capable of hosting football, athletics and other non-sporting events.
There was a bidding process to become the tenants of the London Stadium and West Ham were awarded, controversially in some eyes, a 99 year lease. The official capacity for football is around 60,000 (down from the original 80,000 capacity) but the club have currently capped this at around 57,000, of which approx 50,000 are season ticket holders.
From the outside the ground is aesthetically pleasing and inside the views are unobstructed, there is plenty of legroom in the seats and the facilities are decent (even if they did run out of pies at half time).
However with the stadium still being an athletics venue, this has meant the installation of retractable seats to cover over the running track, this has created a huge gap between the supporters in the lower tier and those in the upper tier.
Today I was in the upper tier behind the goal, close to the back of the stand, and it felt like I was miles away from the action. My eyes are not the best anyhow so it was not a good match watching experience at all. Also with that aforementioned gap, the atmosphere was seriously affected, not that there was much to excite.
Post match I was directed towards Stratford station and, despite my best attempts to find the Tap East which is somewhere in the adjacent Westfield Shopping Centre, I soon made my way back Euston for a couple of more beers (in the Euston Tap and Bree Louise) before catching my train home.
Overall an enjoyable day in the capital, from a social perspective, but from a from football point of view I didn't think much of the ground as a viewing spectator. Hopefully any future developments may improve things.
If I was a West Ham fan though I would feel very disappointed having left the Boleyn Ground for this place but that's modern football I suppose and I would imagine I am in the minority. I won't, however, be in any rush to revisit the London Stadium.