Tom Neusel's Travel Tips for STLUFC Members

Have you ever wanted to go see some games in England ? Wanted to see what the stadiums really look like, and to feel the excitement and atmosphere firsthand? It's really not as hard to do as you might think.

A trip like this for most people may seem a little out there compared to most vacations people take, but it's a trip totally unique and one you will want to repeat again and again. The first question is, “Where do I start?” The thing to do is find the schedule and look for games that you would like to see and also games you can get to from a central location, usually London or Manchester . The English schedule for the fall usually comes out in late June or early July. I look on Soccernet.com and click on Premier League and then Schedules . Games are often played on Saturday afternoon, a game or two on Sunday, and often times Monday night. If you want to fly home on Tuesday, the Monday game must be close to where you're flying home from (i.e., close to London or Manchester ).

After finding games on a weekend you would like to go, the next step is the most important and, sometimes, the most difficult of the trip. That step is getting tickets for the games. The simplest way to do this is to go to the home team's website and then go to Tickets . I sometimes call, but you can simply e-mail them for tickets. Here are a few problems with this step: If you are looking for two or three tickets, usually no problem. If you want five or six tickets, you will probably have a big problem. These games draw good crowds and they won't want to sell you that many tickets. The other problem, and the one that might turn some off, is that if you want to only see Arsenal-Chelsea, United-Liverpool, or any of the high profile games (I think you know which ones they are), you can almost forget it, unless you're willing to spend big money with a broker. You're better off going to games like Chelsea-Blackburn or a West Ham-Newcastle. The tickets are buyable and the atmosphere is just as good.

There are two other things to not forget before scheduling your trip. The top few teams don't necessarily have the best atmosphere; in fact, it's sometimes just the opposite. The best atmosphere I've found was at Villa, Newcastle , and Birmingham . The other thing to keep in mind is the fact that there are other leagues besides the EPL. I've seen great games at Championship grounds like QPR, Leeds, United, and Watford .

The last two steps are the easiest: the flight and the hotel. I usually fly American into Heathrow or Manchester . I would suggest flying in Thursday night to arrive Friday morning. This gives you a day to get acclimated and enjoy some sight-seeing and shopping in the city. If you go October through March, the flights are usually much cheaper. Hotels are easy now-a-days by booking through Priceline, Expedia, or another hotel search engine. Years ago, I used to have to find packages or deals at bed-and-breakfasts. Again, during the off-season in winter, hotels are easy to get and inexpensive.

A couple of other tips for your trip: Get to the stadium a couple of hours early. This will give you time to go to the club shop, have a pint at the nearby pub, and soak up the atmosphere in the stadium before the game. And for the real English football lover, check out the weekday tours at some other stadiums where you won't be going to watch games. Each stadium is unique and some have museums which are really great.

Now enjoy your football pilgrimage and if anyone needs additional help, you can contact me through Tom Schwarz from this website. Good luck.

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