The Emirates: the view from on high

By Tony Attwood

I’m in London through most of today (Thursday), and not able to do any editing of Untold, so this article and (if it appeared when it should) the previous one by Blacksheep, have been set up to publish automatically at set times.   If this one hasn’t appeared you won’t be reading it (and interesting proposition since you clearly are).  If Blacksheep’s didn’t well, we’ll run that tomorrow.

Confused?  Me too.  So no change there.

These two pieces about viewing matches in the Emirates from our respective seats – Blacksheep’s in the lower reaches of the north bank, mine from on high right above Red Action, came about because of the changing nature of the people attending some of our games.  Most particularly, the men in sharp suits at the Marseille game.

We had them too, in the upper level, and most curious they were.

Our two, who sat about four seats along from me, arrived about 10 minutes into the game.  They were in their 20s I guess, very nattily dressed and carrying a box of… chocolates.  One of those 25cm by 15cm affairs that comes with two layers and a chart showing you what each different chocky is.

For a good five minutes the young men studied the chart, paying no attention to the game at all, before delicately choosing their sweetmeat, carefully replacing the guide, and then the lid of the box (failing to notice my avid attention and hence failing to offer me a choice of choc), and then placing the box in a bag under the seat.

They, like their compatriots downstairs left early at half time, returned late, and left before the end of the game.

Now I am a great believer in each to his own, as long as it doesn’t interrupt my lifestyle – and to be fair these guys didn’t spoil my viewing of the game.  If anything it just shows what a cosmopolitan place Arsenal is becoming.

And yet, if this is the audience (at least in part) for which the ground is catering, then why is the catering not catering for this type of clientèle (if you get my drift).

Now I don’t indulge in chocolates at the game, but I do tend to go for a cappuccino either before the match or at half time.   For the Marseilles game it was a pre-match warmer, and I duly strolled to the food and drink outlet near the entrance to section 101 and ordered.

The young lady serving looked at me in horror and disbelief as I gave my order (“a cappuccino please”), and turned to her boss who said to her “just put in white coffee”.

“No!” I protested with, I must admit, more vigour than perhaps was needed.  “I want a cappuccino.”

“Yes,” said the supervisor patiently, “but we have to enter that on the cash machine as “white coffee”.

So the young lady did her duty, then gained instruction in operating the drinks machine (put the cup on the left not the right, press the right button, wait til the drink has finished dispensing, take the cap, put it on the cup, try not to spill it all).

What I want to know is, why is no one ever trained prior to a match?  Why is all the training done on customers?  And why is it still happening all these years after the place opened?

Indeed I’ve been asking that question since the Ems opened.  It is I guess one of life’s mysteries.

As Blacksheep said, there was noise during the game – not as much as at some matches but still a lot more than we’ve had in the past at the Ems.  It is clearly a situation in which many fans will give their backing if the players perform for them.   In London it has probably always been thus.

I’ll add one other catering note.  The Coronet on Holloway Road – the establishment that is favoured by Untold for pre-match editorial planning meetings (otherwise known as “large Merlots all round please”) – is going up in the world.  On Tuesday, after we’d finished our food a young gent came up and asked if everything had been all right.

Gentrification of the Holloway Road.  Whatever next!

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24 Replies to “The Emirates: the view from on high”

  1. Tony,
    The Untold internet wizzard 😉 I has worked!

    If Wenger ever does a twitter take over again for Arsenal I will ask him: did you ever ordered a cappuccino at half time or pre match?
    I’m sure he would take care of it if he realised that they still cannot serve it properly

    Couldn’t you take it from home Tony? In a flask?

    Ok, I don’t drink it at the Emirates so it isn’t bothering me that much, but it really is beyond imagination that they cannot get that right.

  2. I must say that I was watching on a stream (Fox sports) and the noise from the crowd was well delivered by the stream. And I could here you loud and clear.
    Keep it up!

  3. Tony,
    I just lap up your slightly off-topic reports on matters within the Emirates’ walls. We get so much on football that vital issues such as the correct making of cappuccino coffee can easily be overlooked.

  4. “What I want to know is, why is no one ever trained prior to a match? Why is all the training done on customers? And why is it still happening all these years after the place opened?”

    My suspicion, based on personal experience as a previous part time worker, is high staff turn over. I strongly doubt that Arsenal FC is directly responsible for catering, security etc at the stadium. The companies that are contracted to provide these services use the cheapest labour that they can get. They use mostly UK secondary school leavers and overseas postgraduate students (like yours truly). During my PG days, I worked as an SIA licenced security operative at Millwall’s the Den, Craven’s Cottage, Twickenham (Rugby) and Wembley. The security company that I worked for, unfortunately, did not cover the Emirates.

    The security officers and stewards (the former is different from the latter by 2 to 1 pay) come and go so frequently that I met nearly as many people on the job in that one year as I have worked with in nearly seven afterward. I know this is also the case with the catering staff because we all mingled in the lobbies as we prepared for the games before the spectators’ arrival.

    If those catering staff stayed long enough on the job, it wouldn’t be necessary to keep training them right before the customers. On the other hand, it takes regular daily working hours, even if only part time, to keep workers long term. The problem is that it does not make economic sense to do this as the ground only opens for a few hours and twice a week at most.

    I am not trying to justify the situation that you complained about, I’m only giving an informed opinion (I think) on what causes it and why it has persisted.

  5. Noise?
    I was att my first game this season at the Southampton match.
    The crowed rocked.
    All I heard on TV in the game vs Marseilles was ‘we’re the north bank….. We’re the clock end ..’.for at least 20 mins.

  6. Bootoomee
    A club with Arsenal’s social history and community links should sign up to the London living wage Charter.
    Without hesitation.
    Come on Mr Socialist Boss, show us some balls and fuck the mean spirited board.

  7. Tony
    One of the problems with being London’s biggest club is the amount of non-football educated plastics showing up to be entertained.
    It’s a bit like a London weekend fly-in involving Lion King, Arsenal, a nice dinner, shopping and spam allot.
    A lot of tourist agencies have a whole bunch of season tickets, I have also read elsewhere that a lot of high end London hotels keep arsenal tickets for regular visitors, and I know for certain that my relatives construction company (non Arsenal fans) have 6 season tickets for clients (nearly always non arsenal fans) I never use those tickets.
    The suits you described sound like the usual mooks who got tickets they didn’t deserve.

  8. Walter: Can you put up some links to where you can stream the games?
    Whenever I need to go online to watch I always have to start looking for a stream just before it starts, so never actually see the game!

  9. Two points.

    English geography and naming drives me nuts. Tony I believe lives in Northampton, Arsenal plays against Southampton (currently). There apparently exists Eastampton or East Hamptom and Westampton or West Hampton. There do exist places of Ampton and Hampton. I guess geography in North America is somewhat rationalised, as a similar situation here, means that the 5 locations are all close to each other. A product of us only having a couple of hundred years to go around naming things.

    I gather either (or one of) ampton, or hampton is a farm adjacent to a river at a point where the river bends significantly. Which means Northampton is north of some bend in some river (which may no longer exist), and Southampton is south of some bend in some river which may no longer exist. And with respect to Northampton/Southampton, it is obvious the 2 rivers in question are not the same river.

    As I had studied the derivation of Edmonton (a bastardization of Eadhelm’s Tun, which goes back to the Domes Day survey) in the past, I guess I should have expected that there is no ethno-geographic necessity for Northampton to actually be north of Southampton. They happen to fulfill that arrangement, but the origin of the names are completely different. Or did I miss something?

    @Double canister

    I’ve seen bits and pieces in the news about the London Living Wage Charter. A noble endeavor.

    If Arsenal puts out tender’s (Canadian language) for companies to bid on providing services, with the expectation that the lowest cost bidder wins, I can see how Arsenal is somehow involved in people working to the benefit of Arsenal, who are not making the wage in the charter.

    Arsenal might try to apply language in their request to tender that would require contractors to pay in line of the Living Wage Charter, but I suspect it is possible that a successful bid on the tender could still pay below that wage level. I’m in Canada, not the UK. But I think I have run across similar situations in the news.

    One solution is to only use short term contracts. Which puts the overhead of tendering the contract as a continuing expense in itself.

    Having Arsenal decide to run catering inhouse, is a solution which could work. But how often does Arsenal require catering? Twice a week maybe?

    I understand where you are coming from (I have autism, I’ve spent more than half my adult life without income). I suspect Arsenal is trying, but their hands are in part tied.

  10. Nobody will read this, but I have to vent a bit about my personal God, Dennis Bergkamp(BK). I want to compare him to Giroud and point out some deficiencies, as far as I’m willing.

    First of all, Giroud’s first touch is getting there. It really is. It’s making me so happy every week that it should hardly be allowed.

    His pace is obviously lacking. But FUCK. How the hell BK was so fast, nobody will ever know. I accept that.

    As a target man, Giroud edges the man himself. Just barely, but still. If you can beat BK at something, you’re underpaid.

    Now is the real deal: the finishing. The reason I worship at the alter of BK is his omniscience. He knew what was going on everywhere. As a former GK, I don’t know how it would feel to play with someone like him, but it can’t possibly be bad. Or as frightening.

    Giroud does not have that particular talent. I have a hunch he might pick it up, but it’s not his yet. However, his work rate is worth mentioning, if only to prove what a goldmine we’re sitting on. Because we are, and we should know it.

    I’ve known of our striker deficiency as long as the next cunt, but our list of replacements has shrunk, if you haven’t noticed. What I can say is that if you’re not as good as what we’ve got, we don’t want you. And that really narrows down our options for this January. Possibly up to summer as well.

    Apparently, my message to nobody is that we don’t need a striker. We need world class players. Like God. Good old BK.

  11. Does anyone here ever wonder why ,or at the very least worry,
    that what doctors do is called practice ?
    Anyway Tony , hope when I do get there someday , they would be serving real white coffee !

  12. In the meantime , here are the Friday funnies…..

    Two elderly ladies had been friends for many decades. Over the years, they had shared all kinds of activities and adventures. Lately, their activities had been limited to meeting a few times a week to play cards.

    One day, they were playing cards when one looked at the other and said, “Now don’t get mad at me… I know we’ve been friends for a long time but I just can’t think of your name. I’ve thought and thought, but I can’t remember it. Please tell me what your name is.”

    Her friend glared at her. For at least three minutes she just stared and glared at her. Finally she said,

    “How soon do you need to Know?”

    As a senior citizen was driving down the motorway, his car phone rang. Answering, he heard his wife’s voice urgently warning him, “Vernon, I just heard on the news that there’s a car going the wrong way on M25. Please be careful!”

    “Hell,” said Vernon, “It’s not just one car. It’s hundreds of them!”

    Two elderly women were out driving in a large car – both could barely see over the dashboard. As they were cruising along, they came to major crossroad. The stop light was red, but they just went on through.

    The woman in the passenger seat thought to herself “I must be losing it. I could have sworn we just went through a red light.” After a few more minutes, they came to another major junction and the light was red again. Again, they went right through. The woman in the passenger seat was almost sure that the light had been red but was really concerned that she was losing it. She was getting nervous.
    At the next junction, sure enough, the light was red and they went on through. So, she turned to the other woman and said, “Mildred, did you know that we just ran through three red lights in a row? You could have killed us both!”

    Mildred turned to her and said, “Oh! Am I driving?”

  13. It is reported in Merto today that Arsenal are having problem with one of those company having a box. The company said they are not happy with the service there. Apparently the service staffs which seem to be from outside contractor stop the client having sandiches brought from outside.

    The company is not happy and want to stop paying. Arsenal said they have stopped paying for a while and they want those money. Also they the service issue should not be related to payment of those money. It is also said that the service issue has been resolved.

    So , may be Tony should write to Arsenal, ask for a refund becaue their staff fail to properly serve a cappuccino 🙂

  14. @Gord

    Terribly sorry our place names are causing grief old chap, but it is the product of a series of competing owners (Celt, Roman, Saxon, Dane) over the years. The Danes occupied large swathes of the country until the 11th C and this is reflected in the naming for example. Northampton is only 60 miles from London and I’m not aware of any major towns called West or East Hampton. Hampton is of course rhyming slang as well but I’m far too polite to reveal its meaning 🙂

    Nor am I at all sure that place names in the great US of A are any less confusing. They tended to follow conquerors/discovers as well: and many of them of course names by the first settlers rather than the indigenous peoples. So much like the UK

    As I used to point out to American tourists when i was a lad – Leicester Square is not in Leicester and Scotland Yard is in England.

    toodle pip!

  15. Double Canister,

    I’d be the last person to oppose the London living wage Charter, or any workers’ wage increase for that matter. However, it wouldn’t solve the problem that Tony complained about which is basically caused by high staff turn over.

    The average hours you get working in a stadium is 4-5. Stadiums host a maximum of 2 matches per week and then sometimes they may host nothing in 2 consecutive weeks depending on the fixtures. So, let’s just call it maximum of 5 hours per week on average. Even with the payment of the London living wage, the workers still wouldn’t make anything near enough. For this reason, they’ll quit as soon as they get a job elsewhere with more hours. So the new worker, would end up being trained as Tony waits for his cappuccino 🙂

  16. Elkieno,

    I got a link for the stream on facebook this week and the stream was excellent (just the sound a split second earlier) but I couldn’t put it on full screen (maybe because I’m not smart enough 😉 )

    It only stopped a few times (at the start of the second half eg)

    But I got the stream from an Arsenal fanpage. Don’t know if you have facebook but you can find it there. And don’t know if they do this for every game of course

  17. Some coffee puns from …

    Stealing someone’s coffee is called ‘mugging’.

    Coffee has bean the grounds of many a heated and strong discussion.

    Why are Italians so good at making coffee? Because they really know how to espresso themselves.

    I just had some coffee that was good only for its sedimental value.

    The author wasn’t pleased to see a review of his book on cappuccino’s. It said it was all froth and no substance.

    My wife is trying to lose weight but continues to frequent the coffee shops for rich beverages and delicacies. You could say she is making a moccary of her diet.

  18. Elkieno,
    Bloodzeed (on Twitter) is a good start.

    You need to install Ace Stream on your PC and can then access his stream. Be warned, he is a Spurs fan so they take priority if we play at the same time and he also doesn’t like requests for help but the picture quality is awesome.

  19. @blacksheep63

    I think the reference I seen to east and west hampton was historical.

    I was once looking in the Atlas of Canada (web site) for place names. I think Alberta (province I live in) has 7 lakes named Swan Lake. I think I found something like 54 lakes named Grassy Lake in Ontario (where the centre of the universe is).

    During high school, I lived in Dawson Creek, BC. Which is where the Alaska Highway begins (named after Dr George Dawson of the Geological Survey of Canada, Dawson City, Yukon is also named after him). There is a place on the Alaska Highway called Wonowon, which is at mile 101 of the Alaska Highway, or it was originally. The road was built crooked, so that it couldn’t be bombed easily.

    Agriculture Canada used to have a research station in SE Alberta, at a place called Onefour, It is 14 miles from I think the US/Canada border. A small place not too far from Onefour, is called Manyberries. Saskatchewan has a place called Moose Jaw. And another place called Swift Current (the river is fast there).

    If you like fossils, you would visit Drumheller and its fine museum. Not far from Drumheller is Writing on Stone, which is a heritage site. The badlands at Writing on Stone are not very impressive compared to those in the Dakota’s (North and South). Another heritage site in Alberta, which a person should visit is Smashed in Head Buffalo Jump.

    On a trip back from Minneapolis (still in Minnesota), I seen a sign on the Highway advertising Wall Drug. Apparently there are signs advertising Wall Drug (of Wall, South Dakota) all over the world. I think there is one in Moscow, Russia.

  20. @Brickfields Gunners

    “Quote: Does anyone here ever wonder why ,or at the very least worry, that what doctors do is called practice ?”.
    Because that’s all they are doing. I never use/have used them all my life(perhaps about 6 times in all my life, i am now 60) and i DO NOT take medicines, EVER, since i had a bad experience at 17 with a prescribed medicine. Luckily i have had no accident that would have really required any doctors and medicines.

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