Home » Carling Cup, International Soccer, London

Carling Cup: West Brom at Arsenal

23 September 2009 No Comment

After booking my rooms for the next week, it was time to eat lunch as I had a few hours until the Arsenal Carling Cup match at Emirates Stadium. I walked a few blocks from Big Chris’ house and ended up at The Three Stags. I ordered the hamburger and a couple of pints before walking over to the Imperial War Museum located on Lambeth Road. To my surprise the admission was free so I spent a couple of hours catching up on my World War I, World Cup II and subsequent wars knowledge.

After the museum I walked back to Big Chris’ place to take an afternoon nap and get ready for the match. On Saturday afternoon, Timmie Hampton mentioned I should meet him and a couple other “Arsenal boys” at Pinchito Tapas – the same bar I met them at 10 months earlier for a Champions League match between Arsenal and Dynamo Kyiv.

The London Tube
I bought my day travel card for the tube (£5.60) and got on at Lambeth North. Pinchitos Tapas is located by the Old Street Tube Station so I took the Bakerloo line to Elephant & Castle and changed to the Northern line.

Pre Game Dining
I arrived at Pinchito Tapas (located at 322 Featherstone Street), a Basque tapas bar in Islington, around 5:30 pm and did not recognize anyone I was supposed to meet. So I waited and ordered some sangria. Around 6:15 pm, Timmie Hampton showed up – I had met him twice before. Once, at a restaurant watching Arsenal at Celtic in a Champions League playoff on August 18 and second, the past Saturday when we met for lunch at the St. Pancras Grand. We discussed what anyone would discuss who did not know each other well – work and football (more specifically Arsenal). Tim ordered a bottle of red wine. After another 30 minutes, Tim’s buddy Peter showed up.

At 7:10 pm, we had finished the first bottle of wine and I thought we would get on our way. The match kicked off at 7:45 pm. Instead Peter suggested we order another bottle. The second bottle was ordered and I figured we would just show up late. However, what I had not remembered from my prior visit was that the reason the Arsenal boys choose this bar is that it only takes 15 minutes from leaving the restaurant to getting to your seat – the plan is to take the Northern City Line from the Old Street tube station to Arsenal, which is part of the network rail line rather than the Northern Line. This train goes directly to Drayton Park – the closest train stop to Emirates Stadium.

We were done with the second bottle at 7:35 pm and off to the train we went. I was in my seat by 7:50 pm.

Obtaining Tickets
Since I thought we might be late to the match (which I was right), I bought my ticket after the Arsenal match on Saturday from the box office for £20. I thought all seats were supposed to be £10 but those were only for the lower level. The upper deck was all £20. This decision saved me valuable time rushing to the box office or trying to find a ticket Tuesday night since we were late. As we walked swiftly from the Drayton Park train station to the Emirates we passed a couple of ticket touts offering tickets. Arsenal does not include Carling Cup matches in their season ticket which allows the general population to buy tickets for the match at cheaper prices.

The gate I was supposed to enter had an extremely long line. However, the line that was actually long was for people who had bought tickets through Ticketmaster. Since I bought my ticket from the box office I could enter immediately.

The Game
The Carling Cup is the only tournament not included in a full season ticket for Arsenal. The reason being is that Arsene Wenger plays a junior team with an average age of 20 years old. A few seasons ago, Arsenal fans complained about paying so much money for tickets when the regular starters were not playing. Thus, Arsenal removed the games from the season ticket package and began charging only £10 or £20 for tickets.

There were some empty seats at the top of the stadium but the game was mostly full. The attendance was 56,962 which is 3,000 less than the other games I have attended.

Arsenal won 2-0 as Sanchez Watt scored in the 68th minute and Carlos Vela scored in the 76th. Jerome Thomas from West Brom was red carded in the 36th minute after a confrontation with Jack Wilshere.

At halftime I finally ate dinner since we did not end up ordering anything at Pinchito Tapas. Arsenal has a meal deal where you can buy a pie and a pint for 50 pence less than it would cost if bought separately. Also, remember you can buy beer during halftime of matches between England teams.

Post Game
After the game I met Timmie Hampton and Peter at the Public House on Islington Park St. As I arrived I met a new Arsenal boy, Mark, who I believe is the oldest of the bunch since he recently retired from the Royal Mail.

By the end of the evening, the tube had stopped running since we were out passed midnight. Since Tim and I were the only ones left, we hopped in a London cab back to Tim’s place and I figured out how to take the bus back to Waterloo Station from there. If you don’t want to get stuck taking the bus or a taxi for a long distance be sure to leave before the underground stops running.

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