Sunday 4th December 2016
Having been to the Olympic Stadium in Rome, Munich’s version along with those in Moscow, Beijing and others, I’ve never been a fan of watching football in these kind of stadia. Being a considerable distance from the pitch is just not football. London’s was built for athletics. And it is a fine stadium for that. But even ignoring the fact the Boleyn is and will be remembered fondly by all who experienced it, West Ham’s new home is a dreadful place.
I am writing these notes on my latest flight, British Airways the airline looking after me on this occasion for the short flight to the Swiss city of Basel. And making the journey after the magnificence of yesterday is a very happy group of Gooners.
Unusually in the UK, the trip to Stratford was very much a journey into the unknown for all of us so initially we met in the Holborn/Chancery Lane area of the capital for the usual pre-match fare, their location on the Central Line giving us easy access to the correct area if nothing else.
I was fortunate enough to have obtained tickets for 1 particular session of the London Olympics and it was a proper sporting day out. The sense of occasion was something else. And with so much going on the walk from the station was part of it. You could comfortably spend all day in the area and find things to entertain and amuse.
But a football match in comparison is very short. So the walk felt considerable and almost irritating. I certainly wouldn’t want to be doing it every week.
Despite all of the above we had a job to do of course and although The Hammers have been on a bad run of results our hosts were certainly extremely unlucky to lose their last home game to a couple of very late goals.
So, unlike on Wednesday night, a very different looking set of players needed to turn up. And boy did we!
Alexis has made capitalising on defensive mistakes an extremely pleasing habit. And the goals are not just coincidence. They come down to sheer hard work. Yesterday’s example led to Mesut’s all important opener and gave us the first half lead our domination deserved.
Not being able to find my way back to my allocated seat at half time proved a minor irritation as I found a spare one elsewhere, the lack of success when fumbling around in my pocket for match ticket probably due to the intensity of our pre-match acitivity!
It meant a half crammed full of jostles saw me undertaking this activity with fellow Gooners but strangers rather than my usual crowd!
5 fine goals, a superb performance all round and three more big points made it an altogether thoroughly successful day.
I’ve been to Switzerland once before, a trip to Berne for FC Thun away but I have never been to Basel.
So despite the game being almost a dead rubber I am thoroughly looking forward to it.
The full details will follow soon!
For now I’m going to enjoy BA’s hospitality for a hour or so.