I have no shame in admitting that I’m a complete bandwagon jumper. Mainly because I hate missing out on anything so will be almost anything to feel included. That always means I can be accused of being a fair-weather fan. Nothing proves this more than my recent re-discovered interest in Newcastle United. Now they’re playing well and actually winning they’re a joy to watch again so when I got the opportunity to take my niece on a St James’ Park stadium tour; I jumped at the chance.
Dave was working that da so my friend Emma (and fellow NUFC fan) came along for the ride. Dave and I had previously done the St James’ Park rooftop tour so something a little more sedate and seeing the inner workings of the stadium was really exciting. Come the end of the tour there will be no corner of St James’ Park that I haven’t seen!
Much like the rooftop tour you start high and work your way down. Obviously they don’t take you up on the roof but they do take you all the way up to level 8 and the very back row of the highest point of the stadium. The views of the city from up there are pretty cool, you’d possibly need good eyesight to see the game from up there though.
Inside the stadium there’s lots of memorabilia to see along the way, we particularly liked the Dan Burn height chart, which highlighted my stunted growth, to much amusement. As we go down through the stadium we get taken to the corporate boxes, which are owned by companies, charities and even some of the players themselves (we couldn’t find Trippier’s box). Much as it would be lovely to be wined and dined whilst the match is on (at great expense of course) I get the impression there’s not too much match watching going on in these boxes, so some of the atmosphere, I imagine is undoubtedly lost. If anyone wants to prove me wrong and invite me to review a corporate however, that’s completely fine!
From the corporate suites it’s on to my personal favourite part of the tour; the changing rooms. And I know that makes me sound totally pervy but honestly it was really interesting hearing about why certainly dressing rooms are the way they are and how St James Park compares to other stadiums in the country. In the home team dressing room they hand shirts of all the players up which everyone loves and you get plenty of time in there so can get a picture with every shirt if you really wanted one.
The guides on the tour are extremely knowledgeable and laid back so you learn a lot about the history of the club and the stadium without it feeling too much like a boring school trip and they give you loads of time for photos, even helping you take them if needed. Pitch side is up next and an opportunity to sit in the dugout before the last stop of the tour; the media room. This was a great lace for more photo ops and probably that place that felt the most ‘behind the scenes’. We had great fun pretending we were in Ted Lasso!
For £18 per adult I thought this was incredible value. The group sizes aren’t too big either so you can really hear what the guides are saying and ask any questions you want. I think you don’t necessarily need to be a massive football fan either as you learn a lot about the city and local area too. Definitely worth checking out if you want something a little bit different to do!