I’d been waiting to visit the Etihad for ages and I’m not sure if I’d built it up too much, but I felt mildly underwhelmed by the time I got round to it.
There’s not much to criticise, I’ll be quite clear about that. It’s a wonderful unique design, which is a breath of fresh air. Although somewhere like the Emirates is outstanding, it doesn’t look anywhere near as amazing externally.
The Etihad has massive big spirals everywhere, which it turns out are actual entrances to the ground (I’d always assumed they were car parks, like at Newcastle United). They make it stand out, as do the huge cables keeping everything in place.
I noticed one plynth that was just floating, and I was left a little numb by its quirkiness where usually I’d revel in it. However seeing a load of random place names plastered all over the side of one entrance perked me up again. I can’t think of many other grounds that feature the words “Isle of White” quite so predominantly.
One other bum note was a road labeled “Cityzens Lane”. I’m sorry but you can shite off with that – I’m not having it.
Two positives probably just about rescue it though. Firstly, it’s right next to, technically, two other stadiums. City have built a new arena within their on-site training ground for their reserves to play at. And before that, they played their games at the Manchester Regional Arena, which is pretty much in the Etihad’s car park. There are also big photos of City’s former homes plastered across the walls of their new ground. So handy for a football ground fix.
Secondly, when I lived in a flat with a couple of mates, we had a Paul Dickov Memorial Door. It was basically a sitting room cupboard door that we adorned with photographs of the former City striker. And because he scored a huge goal in a play off final for them, that iconic image is there on the stadium’s exterior. Yes, the Etihad Stadium also has its own Paul Dickov Memorial Door!
Consider yourself off the hook with that one, Manchester City Football Club. You can have a thumbs up from me.
Woodhorn Lane Update
You’re not going to believe this… we only have some bloody well seats! And they’ve got the club’s initials in them too! Looking very smart.
The FA Cup begins this weekend… read my ridiculous road trip from the competition by clicking here.