As a “football family”, this was one of the highlights of our recent London trip. We just couldn´t miss visiting any football stadium while being in London. There are several famous football stadiums in London, but we chose the stadium of the famous Arsenal F.C. – Emirates Stadium.
The tube (Picadilly line) takes you directly to Arsenal station and it’s only five minutes walk from there. You will cross Ken Friar Bridge and then you have to get around the stadium to get to the club shop to buy tickets for a stadium tour.
As I wrote to get to the ticket office, you have to go through the fan shop. Immediately at the entrance, the young man stopped us asking if we wanted to write something in a memorial book for Arsène Wenger. The club’s long-term manager briefly announced the end of his career with the team. Writing a message to this trainer legend, who would refuse?! 🙂 When we asked if we were to write English or Czech, we were told that in Czech. They have someone to translate it (I hope it will be translated by Petr Čech 😀 ).
There was an unpleasant surprise at the ticket office, I will not exaggerate when I say a disappointment. I don´t know if it was my tiredness, but I almost burst into tears. And why? It was because, given that there had been some event that week, some premises (changing rooms, pitchside, …) were closed for visitors.
I guess you’ll say it’s a trifle, but it seems to me that every time we wanted to visit some famous football stadium there was something wrong. Judge yourself: in San Siro in Milan – the time of the match was moved to the evening, so the planned visit to the stadium and the match was just a visit to the stadium. In Marseille for the change, Orange Velodrome was being prepared for a concert, so we saw a football pitch without a lawn. And now this. Would not you cry, too? (Well, I know you wouldn´t, it’s just me, I’m such a nutcase).
Well, anyway, since every cloud has a silver lining, there was one advantage at least: we paid the reduced price for the tickets. Normally, the adult ticket price is £20, £10 for children (5-15 years) and £50 for a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children). We had a family ticket for £38.75.
A regular tour is self-guided. You are given the earbuds and tablet to guide you through (available in 9 languages). You can take the tour at your own pace and spend as long as you like anywhere on the tour.
Our tour was different. We were given our lanyard passes and joined the class of Spanish high school students and three guides accompanied us to the inside of the stadium. We started our tour in the Directors entrance foyer where we learned from our guide something about important personalities in the history of the club. Then, through the restaurant for VIP guests, we got to the tribune.
Here we saw the people, “thanks” to those we could not go into the changing room or walk through the players’ tunnel. I admit that in the first moment I thought they were real Arsenal players. But they play on this lawn only on the day of the match. Like the players of Inter and AC Milan, as we learned last year at San Siro, Arsenal players have a training ground somewhere else.
Even though we didn´t get to the press conference room, we saw at least the commentators´ seats, and we walked through the room where the journalists process the interviews after the press conference. And they can also refresh themselves here. As our tour guide Pete (pictured above) said, refreshments are free here, so journalists like visiting Arsenal matches very much 😉
In the final part of the tour, we were able to see the time capsule at the players´ entrance. It was created on the occasion of the completion of the construction of Emirates Stadium. It contains 39 items, including the Highbury match ticket or fans´ messages.
Of course, we couldn´t omit the fact that even Czech players have left the imprint in the history of Arsenal. Tomáš Rosický, who was with Arsenal between 2006 – 2016 *, and Petr Čech, who has been here since 2015.
(*I deliberately do not write “played” because … just, you know 😉 )
Although Petr Čech came from the local competitor team Chelsea FC, it is obvious that even for such a short period of time in Arsenal, he has become an important figure of the team. And not only because the copywriters are able to play with his name 🙂
A visit to the adjacent museum is also included in the price of the ticket. It’s not big, but you’ll find interesting collections here.
Here you will learn all the important information from the history of the club, which was founded in 1886 by workmates from the munitions factory. Before the club moved to the current Emirates Stadium, the matches were played at the legendary Highbury stadium. You will also learn when the iconic white-sleeved jerseys were introduced. In the second part of the exhibition, which is devoted to the more contemporary history of the club, of course, you´ll see a tribute to Arsène Wenger. The exhibition then shows famous players´ jerseys, titles, cups and, of course, we found Czech traces again 🙂
Despite the initial disappointment, the impressions of the tour were stunning. Our guide did not forget a few “backstage” stories and we learned a lot of interesting information. The staff was amazing, so polite, helpful and friendly. And we were made feel extremely welcome even if we did not get into the changing room or go pitchside, it was worth it.
Would definitely recommend this for any football fan visiting London for the weekend. And the visit really makes you want to go back again to watch a game!