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LAUNCH: London Stadium Challenge

LAUNCH: London Stadium Challenge

We have collated all our #LDNStadiumChallenge hashtag tweets here.

To help launch our 2016/17 map, Richard & Richard decided to incorporate their passion into one day and overload on Stadium visits. Each stadium would bear a copy of our map and we would leave a litter trail for Football clubs to pick-up and supporters to witness.

We decided to visit thirteen London Football Stadiums within 24 hours (or until we needed to get the last train home to Colchester). All planned out over a couple of pints of IPA, we had our oyster cards to hand and our Underground map ready for use.

Picking the Sunday before the Football League season started, we thankfully had also booked a glorious day of weather. We left Colchester at 8am, completing the hour long journey by working out when we would eat, how we would tweet and estimating how successful this could be. Although we are both called Richard, we operate successfully with one of us being free spirited and the other being a little more cautious. This mixture helps. It was going to be a long day.

Colchester >> Stratford

On approaching our first stadium, ‘This should be straight forward, we could have a pub challenge when we get to Brentford’? Sounding like a great idea, this started to be a main focus.

Sadly, the first stadium couldn’t be the Bolyen Ground. Instead we visited the security ring-fenced Olympic Stadium, the new home of West Ham United in the stunning Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Without being able physically touch the stadium (cranes where installing a claret and blue wrap-around), we decided to place our first map on the signage leading up from the main walkway. With the sun positioned perfectly, we spent time getting a panoramic of the stadium and starting speaking to a park volunteer who was interested in our exercise. One down, twelve to go and the adrenaline started pumping.

We decided to walk through the park towards our next stadium, Brisbane Road, home of Leyton Orient. Taking in the sights of the Velodrome and Copper Box, we started reminiscing about the London 2012 Olympics (another passion of ours). Upon the stadium, we decided that we would place the map on the East Stand (Away team side) which resides within the oldest stand still remaining. We tweeted out a photo and within seconds we had plenty of interaction with Orient fans. A proper football stadium with proper fans.

Leyton >> Liverpool Street >> White Hart Lane

Running low already on blue tac, we visited a friendly corner shop, fueled ourselves and jumped on a train towards White Hart Lane. The home of Tottenham Hotspur, this was going to be a little different to the rest as the stadium is undergoing a complete reconstruction. We managed to get around to the North Stand, trying to find a photo opportunity that would show where we were. Being a Sunday, we found ourselves opposite a brimming gospel church. They certainly know how to sing.

White Hart Lane >> Seven Sisters >> Finsbury Park >> Holloway Road

Our fourth stadium visit was the very impressive Emirates Stadium, Arsenal. Unfortunately, our first delay was missing a train from White Hart Lane by a few seconds - the next one was not due for another 20 minutes. Checking on our Twitter activity, having visited two Premier League stadiums, Leyton Orient was still getting the most impressions. A theme that continues.

When we arrived at the Emirates, the photogenic ‘ARSENAL’ sign above the club shop was undergoing a face lift. We decided then to place the map at the top of a main stairway to the stadium’s external concourse. We left the map and decided to wait a few minutes to see if there was any interaction with the map from afar. Within minutes, a Chinese couple explored the map but look more confused than intrigued. We wanted to stay a little longer to watch passers-by but decided we needed to move onto the next stadium on our list.

Holloway Road >> King’s Cross St. Pancras >> Wembley Park

The home of English football was next. The best all-round stadium in the world. Every visitor has the same photo on their phones, the one taken at the top of the Wembley Park Underground steps. We couldn’t bypass the chance and positioned our Lego figurines for a photo shoot. We started talking to an American traveler who was intrigued with what we were doing. He was visiting Wembley Stadium for the first time and with all the amazing stadia across the pond, he was very impressed.

We understood that placement of our map would have to be relevantly discreet. We didn’t want to deface the Bobby Moore statue and due to the stadiums vast size it was difficult to find somewhere that showcased it all. We decided to place it at the bottom of the iconic arch. With the photos in the bag, we were approach but a golf buggy and two security officers. After a brief conversation about having to get permission for this, we were told to move along swiftly and not to take any photos. Too late, but we won’t tell them.

It was lunchtime, time to eat at the nearby London Designer outlet.

Wembley Park >> Canons Park

With energy restored, we set about leaving Wembley towards the Hive Stadium, Barnet. A short trip on the Jubilee line, we travelled directly past the stadium whilst in view. For both of us this was a new visit having both previously visited their old stadium, Underhill. The new complex was very impressive with multiple training pitches outside and a fully operational leisure facility. We headed toward the turnstile of the away end that is currently undergoing an expansion and took a couple of photos. On our way back to the Tube we both set the aim of returning but next time for a match.

Canons Park >> Bond Street >> White City

We had originally split the day up into three segments, East and North London, Central and West London, and South of the Thames. We were now embarking on our second segment and heading for Loftus Road, QPR. Going past the old BBC Television Studios, QPR has one of the most prominent entrances on the excellently named South Africa Road. We were now starting to look at the clock and thinking that our time at each stadium would have to be limited as such. We quickly placed a map on the stadium wall and starting to head back towards the Tube. We had underestimated the time it took to walk from a Tube Station to a stadium so we were starting to get a march on.

White City >> Notting Hill Gate >> Fulham Broadway

The nice thing about Stamford Bridge, Chelsea is the Tube station is situated right at the stadium. Although unable to use the matchday-only exit, we ventured into the stadium forecourt around that was populated by many so-called day trippers. Choosing a position for the map was difficult and we made the silly mistake of affixing it to some artificial grass. Didn’t work. We decided to place it behind the Peter Osgood statue. It doing so, we were again approached but some security asking what we were doing. After explaining the concept, the security officer started talking about ‘a statue having its head cut-off’. Trying to put two and two together, we believe he was referring to the Michael Jackson statue and nearby rivals Fulham. When another security officer arrived we decided it was probably best to stop the conversation and move along before anything else was said.

Fulham Broadway >> Putney Bridge

One of the shortest Tube journeys took us two stops along the District line to Putney Bridge. Being a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, we walked through the busy Bishop Park towards Craven Cottage, Fulham. This was one of our favourite London stadiums with the beautiful main stand design by Archibald Letich. We decided that this was one of the only stadiums we would not leave a map on. It’s too nice to deface. After placing our map on the main gates, a couple started taking photos of the map. Without any knowledge of Football, they liked it for the design. After a quick Ice-Cream stop, we walked towards Putney Station, having to dodge the cyclists who were taking part in the Prudential London Ride.

Putney >> Brentford (South West Trains)

Time started to come an issue now. As we were not going to be relying on the speedy London Underground and instead venture into the unknown with mainline service providers, we had many gaps of waiting for trains. Our time planning had therefore gone out the window and we were making plans on the fly. We decided that we need to get off the train for Griffin Park, Brentford and run to the stadium so we could quickly get back for the next train that was due in only 15 minutes. We therefore didn’t get to appreciate the street feel of Griffin Park and also the early phrase of ‘completing a pub challenge’. Instead of getting a nice cold beer reward, the day had quite quickly become more of a marathon. After a whistle stop visit, we got back on the train to continue our journey.

Brentford >> Waterloo >> London Bridge >> South Bermondsey

We now had a one hour journey that involved the South West, Southern and London Underground service. Running a little low on energy, for one of us blisters were starting to become a problem. Upon arriving at South Bermondsey, instead of following the away fans route towards the stadium we had to familiarise ourselves with the conventional method. We arrive at the New Den, Millwall and the notorious surroundings meant with the sun starting to set, we didn’t really want to hang around too long. Although to be fair, nobody was about. We placed the map, took some quick photos and starting planning for the next stadium. We only had two stadiums left, however we only had two hours to get them complete before the last train from Stratford left for Colchester.

South Bermondsey >> Norwood Junction

This was the first time during the day we actually thought we may not actually get this finished. However, we were determined to finish what we set out to do. Continuing to Tweet out about our adventure, we starting get Tweets of support from our followers. How sad this might sound, it actually spurned us on. Whilst on the train towards Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace, we decided a plan for one of us to run with the map and the other to run with the camera. Unfortunately, with the sun pretty much set, we didn’t see hardly any of Selhurst Park and after making the wrong turning from the station, we really only had a few seconds to put up the map up and take a photo. With one of us struggling to make it back to the station with blisters, we planned our next trip whilst running.

Norwood Junction >> New Cross Gate >> New Cross >> Charlton (South Eastern)

 We were now the only people left on the train heading towards the Valley, Charlton and without having a proper drink or something to eat since lunch time we started to plan on this as much as getting to the stadium. Once we arrived at the Valley, we took one last photo for the day. It was too dark to actually see too much of the stadium, so we attached our map to the Club Shop exterior that was lit by the street lights. We had finally completed our adventure. A lot harder than we originally thought but honestly well worth it. With one last tweet out announcing our finish we headed for the nearby kebab shop and corner shop. With a kebab and a well-deserved beer ready for the journey home, we safely arrived back at Stratford, 10 minutes before the last train was due to leave.

Charlton >> Woolwich Arsenal >> Woolwich Arsenal DLR >> Stratford >> Colchester

STATISTICS:

Hoppers          2

Stadiums        13

Station visits  40

Trains              26

Time                17 hours         

Walked            20.2 miles

Steps               40,000+

 

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