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West Ham United 2 v 0 Leeds United
FA Cup
Sunday, 9th January 2022 Kick-off 14:00
West Ham Awaydazes
Wednesday, 5th Jan 2022 09:25 by Tim Whelan

We have the pleasure of travelling to West Ham United on two consecutive Sundays, so for the first time a single Awaydaze article will be covering two different matches. I could just rehash the original article a week later with a few changes, but I think you would probably notice.

The FA Cup third round tie at the London Stadium is on Sunday January 9th with a 2.15pn kick-off, and it’s live on ITV. And very nearly a week later we have a Premier League game at the same venue, with a 2pm kick off on Sunday January 16th. You’ll find the stadium in Stratford in East London, approximately 6 miles to the east of the centre of our capital city.

The London Stadium has been designated as a ‘public transport destination,’ which in other words means that driving all the way is actively discouraged. But if you still want to drive the best bet is to leave the M25 at Junction 27 and take the M11 towards London. At the end of the M11 motorway keep in the left hand lane and follow the signs for the North Circular A406 (S) (A12, A13). At the bottom of the flyover where the roads merge, move into the left-hand lane for the A12.

At the roundabout take the fourth exit onto the A12 towards Central London and Stratford. Keep straight on the A12 for around four miles At this point you should be able to see the Velodrome building over on your left. Exit here onto the A106 signposted Stratford and Westfield. At the bottom of the slip road at the traffic lights, take the left hand filter lane, towards Stratford and Westfield. Continue along this road and you will reach the stadium on the right and the Westfield Centre on the left.

Just before the Westfield Shopping Centre you will reach a set of traffic lights, where you turn left for the Westfield Car Park, A,B & C, which are clearly signposted from this point. This will cost you £10 for a day’s parking, but there isn’t much alternative as there is an extensive Residential Parking Zone around the stadium, which is no doubt strictly enforced.

I’ve scoured Google maps for realistic Park and Ride options, and the best I can spot is Redbridge tube station on the Hainault loop of the central line, which will take you direct to Stratford. This is right next to the roundabout where the North Circular meets the A12 (see above), and if you’re coming down from the M11 you would need to take the second exit and then immediately turn left behind the station, before taking a right into the car park.

Many West Ham fans moaned bitterly when the club moved from their traditional Upton park home, but it has to be said that the London Stadium offers much better options for public transport at the nearby Stratford station, the major transport hub for East London. This benefits Hammers fans as well as away fans, as these days a lot of their support has moved out into the leafier parts of Essex rather than being concentrated in the East End and the Docklands.

Stratford is on the main line from Liverpool Street towards Colchester and Southend, as well as being served by two tube lines, the Docklands Light railway, and London Overground on the North London line, as well as having it’s own bus station. It will also be on the new Crossrail ‘Elizabeth Line’, if and when that ever gets finished. That said, there are usually long queues outside the station after the match, as everyone tries to get back onto it at once.

Unfortunately there will be engineering work on the railways on both days, with trains from Leeds to London having extended journey times, presumably due to being diverted over longer routes, and most journeys needing a change at Doncaster. If you do manage to get to Kings Cross, the fastest way to get to the London Stadium is to go to next door to St Pancras, where a Southeastern Service will whisk you to Stratford International in only 7 minutes.

There aren’t many drinking options close to the stadium, as most of the pubs in Stratford are designated as home fans only, though there are a few restaurants in the nearby Westfield Shopping Centre that also serve alcohol and outside Stratford International Station you can find the ‘Tap East’ which brews its own beers.

Further afield there is always the ‘Hamilton Hall’ Wetherspoons pub on Liverpool Street Station, and near Hackney Wick station there are two bars attached to breweries, the CRATE and the ‘Howling Hops, next door to each another in an old warehouse complex. And just a little further along the canal (in the opposite direction to the stadium ) is Mason & Company which is a Craft Beer and Italian Food outlet.

The London Stadium was on former industrial land for the 2012 Olympics, at a cost in the region of £537m, and during the games it had a capacity of 80,000. Since then a further £200m has been spent on converting the it to a multi-sports venue with a new cantilevered roof. West Ham contributed only £15 million towards this, with Newham Council forking out £40 million and the London Legacy Development Corporation and the British Government paying the rest.

West Ham have taken a 99-year tenancy for the stadium, at a cost of £2.5 million per year, but will not have to fund police, stewarding, heating or pitch maintenance, so the rent doesn’t cover the full cost of staging matches. Inevitably the fans of numerous rival clubs complained bitterly about West Ham being subsidised by so much public money, though it was thought to be essential to guarantee some regular use for the stadium, so it could be preserved and be available for international athletics events.

The preservation of the athletics stadium has led to the peculiar arrangement where the lower tier of seating is moved forward for football matches, leaving a huge gap in front of the higher tier, which remains in it’s original position, a long way from the pitch. Like most football fans I hate this setup, though I’ve also been to several major athletics events there, and the stadium certainly works well for watching track and field.

At least the view of the pitch is unobstructed from all seats, even though it’s a little distant. Their facilities are pretty good as you would expect from a modern stadium, though before you get inside to sample them you have to pass through airport level security to get as far as the turnstiles. There are plenty of food outlets, though you’d getter better value for money if you visit one of the many takeaways in Stratford before going to the stadium.

There is usually a good selection of alcohol inside, but they don’t serve it at some fixtures, which might include both of ours! The current capacity is 66,513, although licencing regulations currently restrict this to a maximum of 60,000 for football. The away section includes part of the upper and lower tiers in the South-West part of the stadium, where our allocation is 3,000 for the league games and an incredible 8,900 for the FA Cup tie.

Prices for the league game are £30 for adults and a less than generous £25 for concessions, while for the cup tie it costs £15, apart from the under 16s, which cost £5. Despite the huge number of tickets available our allocation has completely sold out for both games. There is always a large police presence after the match, no doubt because there were a number of outbreaks of trouble in the early years due to inadequate segregation.

The Club are currently working with their stadium landlords and local authority to see if the number of tickets that can be sold can be increased from 60,000 to 66,000. If they manage to achieve this they would have the largest capacity in London (above Spurs 62,850 and Arsenal’s 60.260) and second in England behind Man U. But as most Premier League games currently sell out it’s unlikely that any of this increase would be made available to away fans. So let’s make the most of our huge following at the cup tie while we’ve got the chance!

Some of this stuff comes from www.footballgroundguide.com .

Photo: Action Images

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