The Arsenal Magical Mystery Tour: Boleyn Ground

Warren Little - Getty Images

Arsenal will walk into a sea of bubbles this Saturday afternoon as they make the short commute east to one of the more spirited venues in the EPL

The next stop on the Arsenal Magical Mystery tour is West Ham's Boleyn Ground, more commonly known as Upton Park. Located in the famous and extremely diverse London East End neighborhood, Boleyn Ground has been completely transformed over the past 20 years, much like every top-flight stadium after the release of the Taylor Report, and redesigned into one of the finer and more-boisterous London stadiums. It's a shame that, in a few years time, the grounds could possibly be shuttered and re-purposed as West Ham look to move a couple miles west into the London Olympic Stadium.

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History: First off, how did it get the name "Boleyn Ground?" Before her head was ceremoniously removed from her torso thanks to a litany of fabricated adultery charges, shady guilty verdicts and the subsequent death sentence brought against her by her husband, and well-known hornball King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn apparently inhabited a castle that stood next to the where the stadium currently stands on Green Street. She was a lady of magnificent wealth due to being one of Henry's multiple wives and, like a lot of ladies of her stature 500 years ago, she had a stable of maids at her disposal. One of her maids died while giving birth, and it's now rumored that the ghost of the maid haunts Boleyn Ground today. So the next time you're in the West Stand and you feel a shiver running down your spine, it's either West Ham's famous supporter Russell Brand trying to slip narcotics in your drink, or the ghost attempting in her own, unique way to tell you to sit down.

World War II saw the city of London under heavy shelling from their German counterparts, and in August 1944 a bomb took out part of the southwest terrace at Boleyn Ground (as bad as that looks, it only took the club four months to completely repair the stand). The 1960's and 1970's, led by club and England legend Bobby Moore, brought cup success to West Ham and Boleyn Ground; there were FA Cup conquests in 1964 and 1975, along with a European Cup Winners Cup title in 1965, but the club has seen little success since then, and 3rd place remains to this day as the highest they've ever finished in the top-flight.

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Current: Today the stadium features four enclosed and roof-covered stands that total 35,016; three of the stands have been completely rebuilt since 1993. The newest, the Alpari Stand (formerly known as the Dr. Martens Stand), was built in 2001 and added nearly 10,000 to the stadiums' capacity.

  • East Stand (built in 1969): approximately 5,000 seats
  • South Bank (Bobby More Stand; 1993): 9,000
  • North Bank (Sir Trevor Booking Stand; 1995): 6,000
  • West Stand (Alpari Stand, 2001): 15,000
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Away Supporters: Around 2,500-3,000 tickets are given to away supporters for each match, which are located in the Sir Trevor Booking Stand on the lower tier. West Ham supporters split this tier as well, so stewards are lined between the two groups in order to curb hostilities.

Getting to Boleyn Ground: Much like other stadiums in the heart of London, driving there is a near-impossibility and, much like how people move about in London, the best way to get to the stadium is via public transportation. A five-minute walk south from the Underground's Upton Park Station - serviced by the District line as well as the Hammersmith & City line - will find the visitor at the gates of the stadium, and the bus has a stop, Upton Park Boleyn, that is immediately outside the Alpari Stand.

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