I rarely pass up the chance to go to the Dripping Pan but last night I committed the cardinal sin. I put the gravy train of the Champions League above grass-roots football, or to be even more precise, corporate hospitality at the Emirates over the Ryman Premier League at the Dripping Pan. I hope I can find your forgiveness in some way and I promise not to do it again….unless someone else wants to invite me in the luxurious surroundings of an Executive box.
My decision tree was influenced by the grade of the opposition rather than a promise of fine food and fine wine. Borussia Dortmund are one of the most exciting teams to watch in the world today. It doesn’t seem to matter that every so often they offload a player for small change (Mario Götze’s €37 million deal to Bayern in the Summer for instance), there is always someone new in the wings waiting to come in.
The Emirates is a very easy stadium to get to via public transport from Central London. Not so easy to get away from but we will deal with that later. Just 25 minutes after leaving the office I was at Drayton Park, just in time to see the 3,000 strong Dortmund fans marching down the road towards the stadium. Whilst they were being minded by the Met Police, the only issues they faced was having to use earplugs to drown out the noise.
The pre-match hospitality was first class as you would expect from one of the best stadiums in Europe. Our host was Sammy Nelson, the ex-Arsenal full back probably most famous for once dropping his shorts in front of the North Bank after scoring a rare goal (and being subsequently fined and banned) who spoke with real passion about the club and the current side. Talk turned to “that” goal on Saturday although he didn’t agree that Nicky Wheeler’s goal for Lewes at the same time versus Leatherhead on Saturday was better. We were surrounded on all sides by Dortmund fans, with the boxes either side hosting German football fans and below us were the massed ranks of yellow and black. Continue reading