Have you ever wondered just what it is like to be in The Press Area for a Premier League game? Well, today your questions will be answered as we take you through the whole Press experience of a modern-day Football match.
Avid followers of my Twitter Account, @lukegcoyi, will be familiar with the fact that I have recently been a regular in the Press Box of The London Stadium as well as at Rush Green Training Centre for Slaven Bilic’s Press Conferences.
Mingling with my heroes and idols each week is an incredible experience and one that I couldn’t ever dream would come so early into my Journalism Career, at the age of just 16.
For years I have gazed from my Season Ticket seat, now largely occupied by my girlfriend over at The Press Box whilst dreaming of one day being sat up to one of those desks with my Laptop.
However, that day has now come and in this Article, I will share my experiences of both of what both ventures are like for someone who is merely months into entering the profession.
The transition from acting like a Hammers fan to acting like a hardened Media professional in a Suit is a strange one, but something that I was able to handle with ease, to my surprise.
Mingling with West Ham United Greats such as Alvin Martin, Steve Lomas, Tony Gale, Danny Gabbidon and John Moncur whilst hiding my fanboy excitement is one thing.
But, containing my joy when members of the first-team walk past me in areas such as The Mixed Zone, and in the tunnel whilst the Head of Media gave me a behind the scenes tour the first time that I was invited is tough.
Not to mention, other Journalists whom I have looked up to for years.
The Press Long itself, the area in which Journalists go to first before the start of the match, is a lavish room full of fellow Journalists, luxury tables and stalls, walled quotes of how great moments from Hammers history were covered in The Press and of course, the complimentary pre-match meals.
Within your Press Pass is a meal token that must be presented to the server to get your plateful.
During my first time in The Press Area, the food was Curry, something that I feared would not mix well with the Butterflies in my stomach, but all was fine and it was very nice.
Other times it has been gammon and mash with a generous helping of carrots and peas and other such things, but the food is always fantastic, whatever it is.
However, sweet treats are where the Chefs of West Ham United really come into their element with such delights as red velvet cake and chocolate tart adorning the dessert buffet before a game.
During half-time, snacks and more sweets are served, usually, party food orientated snacks such as hot dogs or samosas, after the game, more dessert items are served with the likes of cookies and brownies taking centre stage after the Football.
To wash all of that down, a free and unlimited choice of hot or cold drinks are available, what hospitality.
But, food aside, once you have stuffed yourself silly and kick-off dawns, you must negotiate the guts of the former Olympic Stadium to find the lift to The Press Box level.
Seats are not consistent; a certain Broadcaster or Journalist is not in the same place every time and I have been treated to various different corners and sections of the Area.
The Box is lined with white benches and padded seats with appropriate Laptop room and a monitor from which to gain closer views to the action, it is even fitted with plug sockets.
Again, on my first visit, my Phone decided to die on 70% battery, probably the nerves, and I was forced to copy the WIFI Password into my devices from The Head of Media Communication’s smartphone.
But after the debacle of getting connected, the connection is and always has been impeccable.
After the usually dull and infuriating 90 minutes of Football that has been played out in Stratford, a Journalist hast two choices.
Either head to The Mixed Zone, a Claret & Blue walled corridor where the Players exit offering the chance for an interview.
Or, The Press Conference Room where both Managers will speak to the Media, the away Boss is first, followed by Slaven Bilic who usually takes around an hour, god knows what he gets up to after the game.
Press Conference’s at West Ham’s Training base of Rush Green are rather similar and prove to be a just as magical experience as the Press Area of a game.
Overall, being in those kind of sections gives you a buzz like no other and an instant thirst for more and once you taste it, there is no going back.
You find yourself never wanting to witness any kind of Sporting event squeezed in and surrounded by the average fans, you want to be wined and dined in The Press Area, I certainly hope that my place in there will be secured for the future.
And to any other budding Journalists who are offered the chance to attend an event in a similar way, I would undoubtedly recommend it for it is an experience like no other and one I never want to end.