Wednesday, 25 February 2015

What is the link between West Ham, Arsenal, Cambridge and Ridgeons?!

Philip Willcocks /
So onwards to the Emirates and the day I have been dreading, almost as much as the half-marathon I am training for...

As many who read this blog will know, I am running the Cambridge half-marathon in March - kit sponsored by Ridgeons - to raise vital funds for Badger Ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and a couple of weeks ago, I ran a few times round West Ham's Upton Park - my team - as part of my training and to help promote the cause, but now I have to commit to my part of the deal: running round Arsenal's Emirates Stadium...

The cause has been selected because our Managing Director, Steve Rogan, is a keen supporter of Great Ormond Street Hospital, mainly because his nephew Tom suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and receives amazing care there. Steve and his nephew are huge Arsenal supporters and one of the promotional ideas was for me to run round the perimeter of the Emirates Stadium a few times in an Arsenal shirt. 

I agreed to this if, as a West Ham supporter, I could do the same at West Ham in a West Ham shirt. I did this on Thursday 12th Feb.(You can find out more here.) Sadly, there is no getting out of it now...

So this Saturday - 28th February - I am visiting North London to do the deed. Full evidence to follow next week...Wish me luck!

Please donate to the cause here. Your support is appreciated. 

The Emirates is one of the most successful sporting construction projects the UK has seen
The Emirates Stadium (known as Ashburton Grove prior to sponsorship) it has a capacity of approx. 60,000 and is currently the third-largest football stadium in England after Wembley and Old Trafford.

In 1997, Arsenal explored the possibility of relocating to a new stadium, having been denied planning permission by Islington Council to expand its home ground of Highbury. After considering various options, the club bought an industrial and waste disposal estate in Ashburton Grove in 2000. A year later they won the council's approval to build a stadium on the site; manager Arsène Wenger described this as the "biggest decision in Arsenal's history" since the board appointed Herbert Chapman.

Relocation began in 2002, but financial difficulties delayed work until actual construction of the stadium began in February 2004. 

Arsenal appointed Sir Robert McAlpine to carry out building work and the stadium was designed by HOK Sport (known as Populous since 2009), who were the architects for Stadium Australia and the redevelopment of Ascot Racecourse. Construction consultants Arcadis and engineering firm Buro Happold were also involved in the process.

The first phase of demolition was completed in March 2004 and two months later stand piling on the West, East and North stands had been concluded. Two bridges over the Northern City railway line connecting the stadium with Drayton Park were also built; these were completed in August 2004. The stadium topped out in August 2005 and external glazing, power and water tank installation was completed by December 2005. 

The first seat in the new stadium was ceremonially installed on 13 March 2006. DD GrassMaster was selected as the pitch installer with Hewitt Sportsturf contracted to design and construct the playing field.

The stadium has undergone a process of "Arsenalisation" since 2009 with the aim of restoring Arsenal's heritage and history.

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