Now a regular date in the school holiday calendar, the most recent stadium tour was again a tremendous success and had sold out within days of advertising!
Consisting of visiting, amongst other things, the media balcony, boardroom and changing rooms, tour guide and Club & Trust Liaison Officer Howard Gould, also likes to enhance the experience with a surprise or two!
He comments: “As part of my role is to facilitate the player in the community appointments, it seemed a no-brainer that including a player or two on the tour to meet the fans could be an option. It worked so well the first time I think I’ve now blown the surprise element although there have been times when players haven’t been available.
“However, thanks to the brilliant staff at the club, others have stepped in to talk about their work and experiences such as Ada Martin (kit man) and Colin James (head groundsman) and the stories they have to tell are always fascinating and full of interest.”
On this occasion, the third-floor balcony was included, and attendees happily paced up and down in respect to Kent Teague, principal owner, whose nervous excitement doesn’t allow him to sit during a game. But most smiles were saved for when, on entering the home changing room, first-teamers James Brophy and Jamie Turley were waiting to greet the excited group.
Photos and autographs secured and with good luck handshakes all around, the tour then continued to the East stand where memories from days gone by were shared in the old home dressing room whilst a quick visit to the former player’s bar and supporters lounge, now known as the ‘Fans For Diversity Hub’, allowed Howard to explain that the room is now used each matchday to host diverse and disadvantaged groups, charities and similar organisations, introducing them to the club in a safe and welcoming environment.
On the way back to the west side via the north terrace, apprentice groundsman Taylor Sanders was available and happy to talk about all things to do with the fantastic pitch we’ve been privileged to this season.
As a final treat, all were invited back up to the Legends Lounge to view the ’80 Years in Leyton’ pop-up banners that are now currently on tour around the borough in local libraries and schools.
Supporter Aidan was good enough to send in a post-tour email: “A quick note to say thank you for the great tour of the ground during the Easter hols. I think I was more excited than my daughter Charlotte about doing it! It was a really interesting and enjoyable couple of hours and good to meet some of the players and the staff too!”