I have not blogged about an Arsenal Ladies away trip for a while, so I thought I would put a few words on the Seattle away trip.
In the last few years I have not done many away Arsenal Ladies games. Mostly because the timing is inconvenient or the ground is difficult of access by public transport as I don’t drive. Notts County or recently Doncaster Belles come straight to mind.
So when it was announced that Arsenal Ladies would play a friendly against the Seattle Reign I tought it was a great occasion to do some sightseeing and watch the girls in another country to add to my list.
Obviously, I had to spend a couple of days there to make it worthwhile, so I set up on Wednesday from London and flew back on Friday from Seattle because I wanted to be back on Saturday for the Development cup final played near Birmingham.
So I flew from London on the 25th of May and being a lucky traveller, I spent a lot of time at the airport. First my boarding pass did not go through the automatic gates. I went through the manual ones operated by staff and he sent me back downstairs to the ticketing office to have another one issued as my print at home one was not valid.
Considering I had already spent more than half an hour queueing at pre-check to have my passport pre-controlled before going to security it was a good start of the day. When you consider that I actually did not have any check-in luggage which would have added at least another hour queueing, you understand why it is better to come three hours before flight departure on the way to the USA.
So I went through the normal security, when I had to do the full body scanner, which was fine and then at the gate they had another security layer, where the guy just checked everything in my backpack and my hand luggage. That was about 15 minutes extra checking every item in my possession.
Then I got on the plane, upgraded to premium economy with more leg space and I was close to the toilets which is always a bonus. It means you don’t have to walk all along the plane and queue for a long time. The trip was uneventful, even if long as I managed to watch four movies. It felt longer than the trips I did to Japan to watch the girls over there.
Arriving in Seattle it was the usual long queue for the foreign tourist as US immigrations are very tough on visitors and the questioning can be very long. Luckily enough, they had a queue opened for resident as usual as for those who had already entered the country with their ESTA, something I had done as I came in 2014 for the USA v France game and the NWSL draft in Baltimore earlier in the year.
So that did not take too long and I was out to find my hotel using one of those courtesy bus that are hidden somewhere in the airport. After a long wait, the courtesy bus arrived and it took us three minutes to get to the hotel. I could have walked actually to it and it would have been quicker.
Interestingly enough the hotel was close to the public transport, the link light rail that goes straight to downtown Seattle so after checking-in and showering I went straight into town as the jet lag effect was not strong enough to send me to bed.
Off I went to meet a Canadian journo @harjournalist I was meeting that day to give her a Panini Euro 2016 album and a few stickers. While I was waiting for her popped up Danielle Carter, Marta Corredera and Dominique Janssen. Dan recognised me as she has been with the club for many years and had a quick chat. I am not sure if the other players knew who I was and probably thought I was a local fan with an Arsenal shirt. As I don’t do program signing and post game selfies, they cannot recognise the fans like me. They must know the Car Park Crew from Borehamwood though.
So I met Harjeet did some sightseeing and then went back to my hotel as it was about 3am UK time and needed a good sleep.
The next day was game day. Another day of sightseeing before the main event at 7pm. I went round the town and then back to the hotel in the afternoon to have a nap again as my body clock was messed up as expected. I saw the space needle and many other things. Below is the Memorial Stadium view from the Space Needle and the entrance.
Then it was game time. The memorial Stadium is quite big with two main stands with the cheapest seats starting at $18, so a bit more expensive that the prices in the England or France. There is some restricted view on those seats as well but the tactical view is superb.
I met two nice people at the game a Thorns fan Nicole @endibs_rn and another friendly journo @jacobcristobal. It always nice to meet IRL the people that you come across on twitter.
The game itself was interesting in the first half when the Reign put their best team on the pitch and chanegd in the second half when both sides made a lot of substitutions. You can see the full game here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWdWIhRAV_I
For the Arsenal fans, it will be remembered as the first Arsenal game for Jodie Taylor and the ankle injury that put Leah Williamson out for the a few months and maybe until the end of the season.
At the end of the game, the Arsenal players went to speak to the Cascadia Gooners and there were many Arsenal fans in attendance and they went to the fan zone behind one of the goal that was extremey busy.
It was nice to be able to see the Arsenal Ladies in the USA and on Friday I was on my way back to London. I went to the early flights and to my surprise the check-in opens four hours before the flight time because the baggage drop is slow and the TSA queueing is really bad and travellers seem to miss flights because of it.
I went in the queue at H-4, got to the desk at H -3.30 to be told the flight was full and my ticket was not valid. For those who understand the jargon my PNR was not linked to the ticket number and the girl at check-in could not be bothered doing it and had no time doing anyway. They were actually looking for voluntary passengers to get on the next flight, the famous DBC passengers.
So I missed the morning flight and my chance to make it on time to London and go the Development team Cup final which annoyed me greatly. For the record the Dev Team beat Sheffield 2-1 aet to complete a cup treble with the 1st team and the u17 team.
After a few hours being bored at the airport, I went to the check-in desk and the supervisor linked my ticket to the PNR and confirmed I would get on the next plane as there were 20 seats available.
So I got wandering in the airport waiting for my plane and bumped into a few players who were all going to eat and a funny scene with Jordan pushing Leah around who was in a wheelchair. Then I went to collect my seat ticket and the whole team was also waiting to board at the gate.
They did a few pictures with some Reign fans who were really appreciative and we all went on the plane. Most of the players were seating a few rows behind me actually but I did not bother to speak to them.
Firstly, because I had a window seat besides two old German people who were asleep most of the flight and every time I wanted to go out, I had to wake them up and they were not happy bunnies lol
And secondly because when you are on a long trip home for the USA I am sure the players don’t need to be bothered by a fan, while they tried to rest and sleep. Saying that I bet if the Car Park Crew had been on the plane, they would not have been so considerate for the players 😉
In the end, I managed to get Jemma Rose to sing my shirt on the shuttle train at Heathrow Terminal 5. I remember well when Jem was a promising player back in 2009/10 with Birmingham City Ladies. She is a good centre back and need to be back to her best while Josephine Henning is unavailable due to the Olympics in August.
Overall a nice trip to Seattle and it was a competitive game to watch.