My day started off in a sports bar in Manchester. As a lifelong sports lover, I was watching the first half of the Six Nations game between England and Italy, before scurrying over to the Etihad to watch Manchester City play Watford. I had (much to my joy) been offered hospitality tickets to the game by a friend, so I was certain the day would be beyond satisfactory. With the rugby certainly heading England’s way, we were eager to head to the ground, so we frantically made our way there.
The City fans were out in force on Saturday, and the atmosphere outside the ground was brilliant. I headed to the stunning glass fronted East Stand entrance, where there was a copious amount of staff, greeting fans with complimentary programmes and team sheets. It honestly felt that they really made a conscious effort to ensure all customers felt welcomed when arriving at the plush 1894 bar.
With kick off looming imminently I rushed up to get to my seat, making it just in time to see the players walk out. The roar from the crowd in The Etihad was immense, with everyone in the stadium on their feet to welcome the players.
It promised to be a cracking must win game, with Guardiola’s team sitting just 1 point above Liverpool at the summit of the Premier League table.
The hospitality seats were comfortable and padded, based directly on the half-way line in the middle tier, they couldn’t be better. I watched in consternation as the teams went into half time with the game level pegging. Hoping for the game to improve in the second half, I headed back into the bar for half time refreshments. There was a plentiful selection of food and beverages made available to the fans; the working staff had definitely made an effort to accommodate the paying customers.
Marching back to my well-placed seats for the second half, I was expecting a better performance. Luckily for me and the rest of the spectators, Raheem Sterling was quick to get onto the scoresheet, scoring a well deserved hattrick early after the break. The Blues proceeded to sit 3-0 up for the majority of the game, before The Hornets caught them off guard and scraped one back.
With City maintaining their foothold for the remainder of the encounter, the game finished 3-1.The atmosphere throughout the match was scintillating; both the home and away fans came in full voice and made themselves known.
Overall, the matchday experience at The Etihad was luminous. As a City supporter myself, I was over the moon with the win. The service I received in the 1894 bar was beyond satisfactory, and personally I couldn’t fault the day. Although The Etihad has commonly received criticism for its lack of atmosphere and football culture, it showed itself in great light on matchday 30. I was thoroughly happy with my venture to the ground and will be looking forward to my next visit.