My wife and I would like to see an EPL match live.
September 26, 2018 6:48 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I are going to be in London in October, and would maybe like to attend an EPL match. I have questions about the feasibility/logistics!

We're Canadians who will be in London between Oct. 18th-21st. We're both the sort of *extremely* casual fan who enjoys watching international matches and we've never seen a game live, but would like to. So, with that in mind:

1. Looking at the schedule, I'm thinking our best bet for a game happening in London on Oct. 20th would be Tottenham-West Ham? London Stadium is only a few miles away from the hotel we're staying at, and I'm guessing it won't be as hot a ticket as Chelsea-Man United.

2. If there are tickets available, what would be the best site to use to buy them?

3. Is showing up at an EPL match as a clueless tourist without a rooting interest a thing? Is there any possibility we'd get hassled for not supporting one team or the other?

4. Any other advice about attending an EPL match as a neutral observer would be greatly welcomed!
posted by The Card Cheat to Travel & Transportation around London, England (23 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I was about to ask a similar question about getting tickets for the WH-Brighton game on Jan 1st, if there is anything that might be different about the answer to that question it would be great if you could point it out.
posted by biffa at 7:18 AM on September 26, 2018

Generic 'going to the game' advice:

The hardcore Home fans generally have a stand or a section of the stands that's traditionally 'theirs', though this will usually be a season tickets only stand. A section of the stadium at a discreet distance from this will be designated for equally fervent travelling Away fans, usually about 10-20% of the tickets available. Do your research and steer clear of these areas. No place for a neutral.

For the most chilled time, pick seats in a Home fans section of the stands, perhaps even a 'family' designated area, not too close to the pitch. A casual purchase of a couple of tickets in the upper tiers will land you among folks with a desire to study the game without the sweaty religiosity and pointless antagonism. Yes, folks will still be doing some fun chanting and mumbling at the ref and leaping up any time one of the Home players get near the fifteen yard box, but it'll be a crowd of mixed ages and genders. No one will hassle you. Just make sure you're not accidentally wearing the opposing team's colours and you'll be golden.
posted by doornoise at 7:32 AM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I must confess I've never done it but a quick scan of the West Ham site shows you can buy tickets directly from them for the Spurs game. I clicked on few blocks and didn't see many seats left, or indeed two seats together but prices looked to be around the £70 mark each (including fees), and you may have to dig around to find two together.

You shouldn't get any hassle for being non-supporters but I'm assuming you would be with other West Ham supporters - I'm not a football fan in the slightest but have been to a few games in the UK and in other countries and as long as you cheer at the right point for the right team you'll be OK.

And a small point, which may have been an unintentional slip, the match is at West Ham so you would put the home team first when referring to it - ie the West Ham - Tottenham match.
posted by jontyjago at 7:34 AM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

West Ham vs. Spurs is as hot a ticket as Chelsea vs. Man Utd, and the London Stadium is at capacity for most home league matches. I'd watch the ticketing schedule on the club website and the official ticket exchange and perhaps see what your hotel's concierge service can do.

London matches do attract neutrals/casuals, and the rule of thumb in the home part of the ground is don't vocally support the opposition. The "family" areas are where you'd want to be.

As an alternative: Brentford and Charlton are at home that day in west and southeast London respectively. That's second- and third-tier football, but both have nice traditional grounds and decent local supporter bases. And the tickets will be a lot cheaper.
posted by holgate at 7:36 AM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

First things first - in the UK the home team is always stated first, so you mean the West Ham v Spurs game, which is indeed at the London Stadium.

1) You're right this is the best option for that weekend. Chelsea v Man Utd will be much more difficult to get a ticket for, and Arsenal v Leicester (Monday evening 22 Oct) will be less atmospheric
2) Because it's a London derby, ticket sales may be restricted to some degree. However the London Stadium doesn't sell out so you should be fine to buy direct from the club. Details are here, give them a call and see what they say. If for any reason they can't sell you a ticket then Ticketmaster or similar agencies should be able to help.
3)Neutral tourists is very much a thing at EPL games. WHUFC will only sell you a ticket in the home sections, so as long as you are not actively supporting Spurs you'll be fine. If challenged (highly unlikely) just say you'r e from Canada, it's your first game but you are supporting West Ham.
4) I've never been to the London Stadium, only to Upton Park (West Ham's old ground) but I've heard that exiting the ground can take a long time due to the lack of access which is constrained by the various ex-Olympic infrastructure and a big shopping centre. There is a high level of rumbling dissatisfaction amongst West Ham fans with the board, who are perceived to have sold out the club's history by moving away from Upton Park, this is not helped by the poor showing on the pitch. There were demonstrations last season, I think things have calmed down slightly but always a chance of something similar.
posted by el_presidente at 7:42 AM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, make sure you know which gate you need for your seats, as police will often segregate the two sets of fans outside the stadium to avoid trouble outside the stadium pre- and post-match. That makes it sound scary, but generally folks are in good humour. It's just a pain in the arse if you end up on the wrong side of the barriers and have to walk a big loop. Usually there will be plenty of information on the clubs' websites so check those for details before travelling.

Eat a pie at half time.

As a late-30s lady of sometimes sensitive disposition, I wouldn't hesitate to go to a match. Seconding holgate's suggestion that you look at the lower tier matches in the event you can't snag seats for those big Premier League matches. Hope you enjoy!
posted by doornoise at 7:43 AM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thanks very much for all this! Looking on West Ham's site that jontyjago linked to, it seems like there are tickets available in the upper levels (201-256), but is there a way to tell whether a given section is "home" or "away" or "family"?
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:08 AM on September 26, 2018

If they are sold through West Ham they will be home tickets. Family section will be labelled as such in some way.
posted by el_presidente at 8:18 AM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Sir Trevor Brooking Stand's upper tier is apparently family designated, though you'll want to choose a block away from the Away fans (blue section). Also, fan comment on an unofficial website states that blocks 249 and 250 on the other side are fairly chilled.
posted by doornoise at 8:24 AM on September 26, 2018

Oh, sorry - I misquoted the article. Family section is in the Bobby Moore Stand, upper tier, which includes 249 and 250. Makes more sense as this is the farthest point from the Away fans and potential argy bargy.

Basically, any upper tier block on the opposite side of the stadium to the Away fans will be filled with those looking to stay out of trouble and enjoy the game in (relative) peace.
posted by doornoise at 8:30 AM on September 26, 2018

It looks like there are a couple of tickets together in block 211...
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:31 AM on September 26, 2018

I can't get through to payment on that site as it's asking for a membership login. Suggest call the ticket office if you get the same
posted by el_presidente at 8:47 AM on September 26, 2018

Okay, given that there were very few tickets left and even fewer that were together, I got two in block 211, so I hope that's okay. Thanks again for all the general advice and etiquette tips!
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:55 AM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Learn the words to "I'm forever blowing bubbles"
posted by el_presidente at 9:06 AM on September 26, 2018 [4 favorites]

Have fun. It is a very different experience that sport in North America, and folks above had done an excellent job of advising. The 4 or 5 times I have seen matches in London I was with friends who had season tickets, and went with them. it was very helpful negotiating the gates, which pubs one can and cannot go to before or after the match etc.

The only advice I have is to support West Ham, and not Sp*rs ;)

Come on you Gunners!
posted by terrapin at 9:07 AM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'd also mention that the London Stadium is close to the Westfield Mall in Stratford. On the upper floor there is a decent food court and on the mezzanine above that are some restaurants plus a cinema and bowling alley. There's another cinema (Picturehouse) and the Theatre Royal Stratford East nearby too. So if you don't want to go straight back into Central London after the match, there are lots of options for food and evening entertainment in the area.
posted by essexjan at 9:55 AM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

We will be more than happy to root for West Ham! Pubs before or after the match shouldn't be an issue, as my wife isn't much of a drinker and since it's going to be my last full day in England I'm not going to want to get drunk anyway. Thanks again, MetaFilter!
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:15 AM on September 26, 2018

Come on you Gunners!

This may well be sarcasm, but just so we're crystal clear, please do not shout this at any point during a West Ham / Spurs match. Arsenal are the Gunners. West Ham are the Hammers!
posted by jontyjago at 1:36 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Definitely do not shout "Come on you Gunners!" if you are in either of those teams' stadia!

Just think it to yourself.

I attended a Swansea/Fulham tie a few years back. A Fulham friend got us a deal on the tickets. All three of us are Arsenal supporters, but kept that to ourselves.
posted by terrapin at 1:45 PM on September 26, 2018

The first (and to date only) time I was in England, in 1992, I bought an Arsenal t-shirt based entirely on the fact that I thought their name sounded cool. Then I made the mistake of wearing it while I was still in London, and was accosted by a guy my age (19) or so who immediately got a bit aggro about the fact that I was an Arsenal fan and then told me it was a bad idea to be wearing it in whatever part of town I was in once he sussed out that I was just some dumb tourist.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:55 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Last ever game at Upton Park 'I've got something in my eye' Bubbles
Knees Up Mother Brown for all your pre-match gossip and news
Enjoy the game and eat a pie for me.
posted by Chairboy at 4:22 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

BTW, West Ham are indeed the Hammers, but at the match you will more often hear a long drawn-out 'COME ON YOU IRONNNNNNSSSSS!', a reference to the fact that West Ham started out as the Thames Ironworks team (hence my COYI! above)

Also, do bear in mind that West Ham V Spurs is very much THE local derby for Hammers fans, and passions do run high, so don't even think about joking about supporting Tottenham on the day!

There is a West Ham chant that starts 'My old man, said be a Tottenham fan...' but the rest of it is far too unsavory for the Green. If you are very lucky, you may get to hear it in its natural habitat.

OK, that's quite enough from me on this subject!
posted by Chairboy at 4:38 PM on September 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

From the perspective of someone who has been somewhat exposed to North American big-league sporting experiences: you will not be given guidance, musical or visual, as to what you should be doing at a specific point in the match. You will work it out easily based upon where you are in the ground and what everybody else is doing. The people behind the goal may be singing a joyously obscene chant but if the people around you are not, you should not. You are allowed not to question the parentage of the referee even if you're in the blanket-and-thermos seats. But you are a guest of the home team and you should share in their joy or their sorrow.
posted by holgate at 10:11 PM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

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