Date:Wednesday April 7 2010
by James Fielden
Despite the huge disappointment at Arsenal, the overriding feeling about the whole away day at the Emirates was the elitist feel it oozed.
The official coaches rolled up to the backstreets of Holloway at 12.30 leaving about 500 Wolves fans who travelled on them with at least an hour to fill before the turnstiles opened.
The choices were limited; you could either go and venture into the ghetto of Holloway which didn`t look desirable or head towards Arsenal`s old Highbury ground to find somewhere to watch the crunch game between Manchester United and Chelsea.
So over the white bridge we went and after a five minute walk we reached a pub but they announced it was only for over 21s. One man even had quite a heated altercation with the cocky stewards who wouldn`t let his daughter in.
After that, due to our lack of local knowledge we headed back to the area surrounding the stadium to find some grub. Now, don`t get me wrong I don`t mind spending big amounts of money on occasion but £6.90 for a frankfurter hotdog and a medium coke is insane.
At any other ground, you would go to another burger van to find something cheaper, but that was the problem. Unless you went to an official Arsenal refreshment bar you could have nothing else. Obviously they are trying to quell all other competition but it offered no choice. I mean who really goes to a football match to buy a salmon bagel???
Half the food advertised they didn`t even have ready to serve. From outside the stadium you could see inside the immaculately polished glass windows to where all Arsenal`s corporate customers were being served a buffet lunch. To the naked eye it almost seems as though Arsenal have disregarded their standard fans and just put all their effort into caring for the prawn sandwich brigade.
Anyway…we went inside and it was everything you could ask of a modern stadium, potentially the best i`ve been to (i.e. better than Wembley). Large concourse, several HD plasma screens showing both Soccer Saturday and Man Utd vs Chelsea and each and every seat was padded with plenty of leg room.
But it`s just not real in my view. Yeah fair play, Arsenal can now fill their ground with 60,000 people each week but it`s the same experience as I`ve had at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford this season, the fans are turning up and just expecting their team to pick up three points. The place is soulless and lacks atmosphere to a worse extent than Highbury did when I visited a few years ago.
Don`t get me wrong I love going to the big cities like Liverpool and Manchester every other week for away games. It beats going to Scunthorpe and Blackpool but there`s something about those clubs that`s just more welcoming. The Londoners just seemed so arrogant about everything that it really annoyed me. They felt they could just turn up each week and just sit there expecting something to happen from their team. They have got into a comfort zone which now with a new ground they cannot get back out of. In stark contrast, Wolves fans were relishing their first ever trip to the Emirates and stood singing all game. Furthermore, an appearance from striking legend Steve Bull in the away end prompted numerous old school chants much to the delight of the 3,000 travelling fans.
Undoubtedly Arsenal have got a hardcore following - evident by the fact they filled their allocation at Molineux in November but you could tell just walking away from the stadium that day trippers and tourists made up a fair percentage of the crowd. Loads of people (mainly foreigners from the accents I could hear) were having their picture taken in front of one of the Arsenal banners plastered on the stadium.
It may seem like me along with other Wolves are a bit hypocritical after moaning that we should be in England`s top league for so long but I just prefer the down to earth feel of going to places like Barnsley, Sheffield and Nottingham where you are always received well by the locals. Everyone loves having a bit of banter with the opposition fans but on the three occasions I have visited the capital this season, home fans have talked to Wolves fans as though we are scum of the earth. Almost with the view of why should anyone come inside the London bubble! Idiots!
Anyway not a bad result for Wolves and my rant about the elitism of the Premier League is now officially over.
*I don`t think I can let the weekend pass without mentioning the on loan Stefan Maierhofer. The giant Austrian had to go in goal for ten minutes during Bristol City`s match with Nottingham Forest. Afterwards he was quoted as saying that he was ready to take over from Edwin Van der Sar at Old Trafford.
*Lastly one small note - I`m going to put it out there that Burnley are the worst team in Premier League history (yes that`s right - worse than Derby a couple of years ago).
Do you agree or disagree with what I`ve said - leave your comments below.
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Date:Wednesday April 7 2010
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