Last week West Ham World went behind the scenes at the London Stadium to see where and how West Ham prepare for their home games.
The engaging and interesting 60 minute tour took us through the corporate sections, into the back end of hospitality, down through the players entrance – and, in an exciting adventure on a match day – straight into the dressing rooms and out of the tunnel to the pitch!
We took the tour on our first home game of the season, when we welcomed Huddersfield to our ground and finally welcomed some points into our lives. It was well-organised, informative and a great look into the sections of the ground we don’t always get to see.
The tour is full of information. Depending on which type of tour ticket you opt for, attendees have an option to listen to and watch informative and interesting sessions on portable digital screens (not the largest in Europe, but what can you do) and also get their information from a guide. Ours is a friendly woman called Claire, who is West Ham through and through – something which is really nice to have in a stadium which still feels very new and different to fans.
There is a lot to cover on this behind the scenes tour. We start with the corporate areas – and are a little blown away by the industrial art deco decor and views in The Royal East section. Every single corporate area, every wall, every room, every detail is a dedicated homage to the history of West Ham United and East London. It’s a smart idea to always remind everyone exactly where we came from and who we’ve always been. There’s pieces on our greatest memories, best players, and biggest victories – and it’s a lovely walk down memory lane as we make our way through the lounges and eateries.
Now, there are a lot of corporate lounges to see – and there’s only so much interest we can have into how the other half live. For those of us who get our beer served in plastic cups instead of fancy glasses at half time, we can’t wait to tackle the behind the scenes areas where the players spend their time before and after the games.
Fortunately, the tour delivers. We get to come in through the players entrance, and spend some time in front of the media board. This section of the tour which excites me far more than it should – but the feeling seems to be mutual, as every person on the tour inevitably grabs their selfie in front of it. We’re warned that players often wander around the ground in the lead-up to the game, and there’s a rumour we might see Jose Fonte – but alas, he’s nowhere to be found.
The tour also allows us into the home dressing room, where shirts, boots and kit are laid out for every single player, whether they play or not. This is to ensure that there’s no clues as to the team selection for that night – which is the right idea. It’s a great look to where the boys get ready to play; a Bobby Moore shirt hangs among the current team jerseys, Andy Carroll has a hair dryer plugged in at his station, Michael Antonio has goalkeeper shorts folded up at his, which scares me – just how far will Bilic go to play him out of position, I wonder?
Overall, it’s a really nice, intimate look into where our players will be just a few hours later.
But the best is yet to come. Before we know it, we’re making our way down the tunnel and out onto the hallowed running track. That’s right, we’re pitchside on a match day – hours before the players are. This is such a wonderful experience. We aren’t allowed to touch the pitch (completely understandable) but we spend lots of time taking photos, standing where Slaven stands, sitting where Carroll sits, and appreciating the absolute awe of coming out of that tunnel and being surrounded by the immense stadium. I can only imagine coming into it full of people singing bubbles, and it’s enough for the goosebumps to come.
These tours are great. This is a neat way to engage with West Ham on a matchday, and there’s something very special about being that close to where the action takes place. It should be noted that there’s plenty of time for pictures in every section. We’re never rushed, never hurried along. Questions are answered, and it’s a knowledgeable team leading the way.
You can book your own London Stadium tour and see all the options available here.