Regular readers of the Chronicle will be aware that my eldest son, Ben (previously referred to as Chop Jr, which would have worked if I could have found a snappier nickname for George. Chop Jr 2 was the best I could manage which didn't really achieve the comic genius I was after and took longer to type), is an Arsenal supporter. I still cling to the faint hope that when he gets older (he's 7 now) he might change his allegiance to Fulham. However, every week that goes by the more I realise that is never going to happen. On Monday we took one more step along that road. Ben got some vouchers for Christmas for a tour of Arsenal's Emirates Stadium. For one reason or another it's taken us a long time to find a date when we were able to go, but finally, and ironically less that 7 days before the Whites take to the very same field, we made it up there on Monday.
As a Fulham fan I am fiercely proud of our "little" ground, it's still full of character, even after the recent modernisation and having spent so long within it's confines there are few places where I feel more at home. However, as modern stadia go, the Emirates (which is a crap name, I don't really care how much money you're getting for naming rights it's not the same as giving a ground a proper moniker) Stadium is pretty impressive. The whole tour took an hour and was very well presented. I remember as a kid I did the Wembley tour a couple of times, and that was really special, the Emirates inevitably does not have the same sense of history yet but it is still worth looking round. From the executive seating areas with very comfy seats to the players entrance with an imposing facade for visiting teams and an underfloor time capsule. From the dug out along side the immaculate pitch to the home dressing room with its feng shui design. Everything is very modern and yet very well designed. I'd really like to go and see Fulham play there, this coming Sunday has come too soon,but maybe next season I can make it along. I did place my own special voodoo curse on the ground by wearing my Fulham hat and reciting the ancient gypsy spell "comeonyouwhites" repeatedly in the home dressing room. Let's hope it works.
Ben loved the whole day. We also took the time to find the massive A R S E N A L letters over the clock end bridge and walked back to Highbury to see what remains of that once special stadium. When I asked him what his favourite part of the day was he looked at me with a certain look in his eye and said "I can't say the shop can I?".
Here's some photos for those that are interested.