Newcastle travel to London Stadium to play West Ham on Saturday, 2 November (15:00 GMT).
And although Newcastle have 108 pubs within half a mile of St James' Park ... West Ham have NONE!
DIRECTIONS AND CAR PARKING
The London Stadium has been designated as a 'public transport destination,' which in other words means that people driving by car to the venue are actively discouraged. So, for example, an extensive Residential Parking Zone is put in place around the area of the stadium on matchdays, meaning that you need to have a permit to street park. Also what limited paid parking is available close to the stadium, such as the Aquatics Centre and Copper Box, are off-limits to the normal fan.
If you still wish to drive then: 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.
The nearby Westfield Shopping Centre offers car parking at £10 for a day (Saturday or Sunday), or £7.50 for a weekday evening. You can get a discount of up to 25% on the parking rate if you sign up for the Westfield Smart Parking Scheme. There is also the option of renting a private driveway near the London Stadium via YourParkingSpace.co.uk.
BY TRAIN AND LONDON UNDERGROUND
The London Stadium is served by three railway stations all of which are around a 10-15 minute walk away. These are; Stratford, Stratford International and Hackney Wick. The stadium and stations are well signposted around the area.
Stratford Station is located next to the large Westfield Shopping Centre. It is the main station in the area, as not only does it have overground connections to London Liverpool Street and Clapham Junction, but is also has an Underground station which is located both on the Jubilee and Central tube lines. In addition, it is also located on the Docklands Light Railway.
Stratford International Railway Station is located on the other side of Westfield Shopping Centre and is served by local services from London St Pancras, the journey time from which is just seven minutes. It is also located on the Docklands Light Railway.
Hackney Wick Railway Station is located on the opposite (West) side of the stadium compared to the Stratford Stations and Westfield Shopping Centre. It is served by trains from Clapham Junction, Richmond and Stratford. It also stops at Highbury and Islington, which is also situated on the Victoria Tube line and can be a handy for those fans travelling down to London Euston, which is around 20 minutes journey time away. Please note that due to its limited size, fans are being discouraged from using Hackney Wick. However it is open on matchdays and I'm sure if arriving in good time, it will be fine to use before the match. After the game it might not be a good choice, as the trains arriving at Hackney Wick, will probably be already jam packed with fans who will have already got on at the preceding Stratford Station.
I have been informed that after the match all fans that are wanting to go to Stratford Station, are sent on long set route (this avoiding going into the shopping centre) and is stop/started in places to regulate the flow of fans, before being finally met with huge queues for the trains themsleves.
For travelling across London by public transport I recommend planning your journey ahead with the use of the Travel For London Plan your journey website.
WHERE TO DRINK?
There is not much in the way of drinking outlets close to the stadium, so it is mainly the case for visiting fans to drink in Central London or on route. Alcohol though is served inside the stadium, although not cheap at £5.10 for a pint of Amstel, or there are bottles of Heineken (£5.10), Bulmers (£5), or small bottles of wine (£5.50), plus cans of Gin & Tonic (£5.50). The Club also offers a 'Pie and a Pint' for £8.45. Please note that for certain high profile games then the Club opts not to sell alcohol to visiting fans.
There are a number of pubs in the centre of Stratford itself, but nearly all of these have declared themselves for home fans only. John Ellis a visiting Leicester City fan informs me; 'Having been turned away from the Wetherspoons pub called the Goldengrove, the doormen pointed us in the direction of the Goose pub at 78 Broadway, where we were made welcome. There was a mixture of home and away fans inside and families were also allowed in. Adam adds; 'Before the game, we went to the Hamilton Hall Wetherspoons pub at Liverpool Street Station before journeying to Stratford and the Stadium. This pub has been popular with fans visiting London for a game over a number of years'.
There are a number of eating places and restaurants within the nearby Westfield Shopping Centre that also serve alcohol. My pick of these is the 'Cow' on Westfield Avenue, but there is also a bar inside Aspers Casino, as well as the Holiday Inn, which are all situated on the Westfield complex. Just outside Stratford International Station, there is the 'Tap East' which brews its own beers. Whilst near Hackney Wick station there are two bars that also are attached to breweries, The CRATE and the 'Howling Hops' are both housed next door to one another in an old warehouse complex. Whilst just a little further along the canal from these brew pubs (in the opposite direction to the stadium ) is Mason & Company which is a Craft Beer and Italian Food outlet.
WHAT IS IT LIKE FOR VISITING SUPPORTERS?
London Stadium On MatchdayAway fans are housed in both the upper and lower tiers in the South West part of the stadium, where just under 3,000 can be accommodated for League games (or up to 8,000 for domestic cup ties). Supporters enjoy fine unobstructed views, however, fans are housed quite far away from the playing area, especially at the back of the upper tier, so make sure you bring some binoculars, or more practically if you can, get yourself a seat in the lower tier or at the front of the upper tier. Due to the nature of the retractable seating, there is a sizeable gap between the lower and upper tiers of the visiting fans sections, which looks odd. The more vociferous West Ham fans are located to the left of the away section in the upper tier. But with the roof of the stadium being rather high up above the supporters, as well as the gap between tiers, then the atmosphere is hindered somewhat. Annoyingly if you are housed in the lower tier, then you need to show your ticket each time you go back to your seat. On returning with a coffee at half time, I had to show my ticket twice to get back to my seat. Lucky I had the ticket on me and not with my mate who booked them. On the whole though the stewards were friendly and helpful.
On the plus side, the facilities inside the stadium are mostly very good, with ample food and drink outlets located on spacious concourses. However, on my last visit, I noticed that some of the facilities such as the toilets are already showing signs of wear and tear. Food on offer inside the stadium includes a range of Pies; Steak & Ale, Chicken Balti, Vegetarian (all £4), Hot Dogs (£6) and Nachos (£4.20). Most of the food and drink outlets take card payments, which also is handy.
Entrance to the stadium is through electronic turnstiles, meaning that you insert your ticket into a bar code reader to gain entrance. But before that, you need to pass through a security cordon around the stadium, where searches are carried out. And then expect to be searched again after going through the turnstiles. With this in mind then make sure that you arrive in plenty of time before kick off.
After the match has ended home and away fans are well separated immediately outside the stadium by a large fence and there is normally a sizeable Police presence. Those fans who have travelled by coach are directed to use a separate walkway back to the coach park. Fans heading back to Stratford are sent on a long walk away and around the stadium. This is to keep home and away fans apart, which it does mostly but near the end fans come into close proximity with West Ham supporters moving along a walkway above and to the side of the visiting supporters. Unfortunately, this led to a number of unsavoury exchanges on my visit, with the Police trying hard to keep rival fans at bay.
Confusingly inside the stadium, there are a number of empty seats on matchday including the away section, even though the game may be 'sold out.' This is because the stadium holds 66,000 but West Ham are only allowed to sell 60,000 seats. Rather than having whole sections of seats empty it would appear that the Club have spread them around the stadium. Please note that as nearly all League matches will be sold out in advance this season at the London Stadium, then please do not travel unless you already have a ticket.