My Evening in The Diamond Club 22 February, 2008Posted by lasagnechef in Uncategorized.
Regular readers will know that my dad’s photo made it down to the final 11 picked by Arsene Wenger in the o2 competition to win an Arsenal Opus. Last night they held a party for the finalists in the Diamond club, which included meeting Ray Parlour, Martin Keown and Nigel Winterburn. We also got a mini tour of the stadium included.
The Diamond Club was absolutely amazing, pure luxury. I had a little wonder round and it was incredible. The bloke giving us the tour said how much it was to be apart of it and it was something like £75,000 for two seasons or £100,000 for three. However you do get free drinks and free programme so it’s not all bad. The bar was called the ’30’s Champions Bar’ and had a bronze bust of Dennis Bergkamp on the end.
The whole place was beautifully decorated with a mixture of style and class. There were decorative wood panels to every table-booth, which overlooked the Club Level restaurant below. There were also a few trophy cabinets around the place, this one with a couple of the FA Cups and old Division One Championships we’ve won. Tottenham fans, keep dreaming.
Then we went down one floor to the Directors Box below. It wasn’t quite as extravagant as the Diamond Club but it was still really nice. The view from the seating area was fantastic and the seats were so comfy. I sat in Peter Hill-Woods’ seat. It was like being in 1st class on a jumbo jet, pure luxury.
Then we went down a couple of floors to the area I was most looking forward to. We saw the players entrance where everyone arrives, as you walk through the doors there’s a big red wall with a massive Arsenal crest on and underneath it says ‘The deeper the foundations the stronger the fortress’. Then along the corridor to the dressing rooms there are loads of iconic photographs from our history. The guy showing us around also said that the away team are always made to arrive first, all the added together, it must be quite daunting when the smaller teams come to play here.
Then we made our way to the dressing rooms. There are 4 dressing rooms, 1 for us, one for the away team and two more that are used for the Emirates Cup. You probably know that Arsene Wenger worked in Japan earlier in his career and he shared a lot of their beliefs; there’s even a Japanese garden at the training ground. Arsene designed all four dressing rooms, 2,3 and 4 are all square shaped which is supposedly unlucky and intimidating. However the home dressing room is horseshoe shaped, which is not only lucky but it allows Wenger to address his players much better.
In the players lockers there were shirts for each of the 11 finalists with our names on and no.11 on the back. I got ours signed by the three ex-players there and it’s now framed upstairs with a copy of my Dad’s photo.
There was also a plunge-pool in there for relaxing muscles and opposite that was the physio room, and no van Persie wasn’t in there.
We left the dressing room and walked down the tunnel as our players do every week. You could imagine what it would be like on a match day. A small light at the end of the tunnel gives you a glimpse of the fans and as you walk down the massive stadium gradually reveals itself. The atmosphere must be incredible for players coming out onto the pitch.
I sat In Wenger’s seat, stood in his technical area and felt what it was like to be sitting on the bench. For some reason I’ve always wanted to do that, I don’t know why. When I go to home games I usually sit in the 4th row, so I know what it’s like to be close to the front, however last night when I was down by the pitch, it felt so much different. The stadium looks so much bigger down there and I was just thinking about how the players must feel surrounded by all these fans, the immense pressure they’re under to perform. I sort of take our stadium for granted now but yesterday I started to realise how special it is.
We then went back upstairs to the Diamond Club for a Q&A with Martin, Ray and Nigel who joined us on the tour which I thought was really nice. It was good because you could ask them questions along the way or whatever you like and Ray made a few little jokes and it sort of gave the whole thing a really relaxed atmosphere and I completely forgot that they were people I idolised a few years ago, they just seemed like regular nice guys.
Ray Parlour had some funny stories to share in the Q&A, they also spoke about Arsene Wenger and how revolutionary he’s been for the club. Martin was talking about how he left the club when he was 19 because he didn’t get on with the manager and he was offered a raise of £250 a week to £300 when his contract expired and he left. He came back though obviously and became a fans favourite. Martin was also talking about Ruud van Nistelrooy, we all joked about it but he was saying about how it showed we weren’t going to be pushed about anymore.
It was a really enjoyable evening and I’m so grateful I was able to see all these things behind the scenes. That’s why I thought I’d share them with you on the blog today, hope you like it. I thought they were going to announce the winner but the bloke from o2 said they’re going to email everyone in a couple of weeks with the results and the announcement will be made before the ‘Boro game. As soon as I know anything I’ll let you know, but thanks so much to everyone who’s voted for my dad’s photo.
I’ll write up a match preview for the Birmingham game a bit later, until then.