I’ve been dragged (kicking and screaming) to my fair share of football matches over the years, and while I wouldn’t describe myself as a sports fan, it’s certainly been an enjoyable experience and something I’ll no doubt be coerced in to doing again.
So when I was invited as a corporate (oo-er) guest by Northern Print Solutions to attend the Eagles vs. Pheonix game, I jumped at the chance to experience something a bit different from my usual ‘pie and Bovril in the freezing cold’ escapade.
The home game took place at Sport Central based right in the heart of Newcastle City centre, with excellent Metro and bus links less than a five-minute walk away.
There was a great atmosphere from the get-go, with people from all walks of life and ages crowding outside.
After entering the sports hall with everyone else, we were given our tickets and shown to the corporate (I repeat, oo-er) lounge. It was surreal to go from being amongst the hustle and bustle and entering the suite, which had a luxurious and inclusive feel.
Guests enjoyed drinks and complimentary grub in the form of a delicious cheesy pasta bake and garlic bread (prepared by the lovely Dave, that didn’t run for the hills when I demanded a selfie). Good on you, Davo.
We were also treat to a pre-match talk by Eagles manager Dave Forrester, which was a very nice touch.
Part of the corporate experience is the included game day programme, which was loaded with player insights and interviews, as well as a raffle ticket number to be drawn during the match.
All game attendees were invited to get a sombrero selfie for Zapatistas, entering the draw to win a burrito. Obviously, I was there with bells on.
I thought my beginners luck may have kicked in by then, but evidentially not.
Once fed and watered we were shown to our courtside seats (yes, EXACTLY like Beyonce).
Something to note about the day was the overall family-fun feel. Kids were busy from the second they entered the court, with porters including them in games and giving them to opportunity to shoot some hoops, win tickets to the next game, and ‘Chuck A Duck’ to win prizes.
Parents clearly felt it was a safe space for the little ones, as kids ran around until their hearts were content and were clearly having a ball.
The game kicked off and it really was action from the get-go. Eagles took an immediate lead scoring hoop after hoop, and in the first half I really wondered if the Phoenixes would be able to bring it back. Chants echoed throughout the stadium and penalties were taken in spades.
I particularly enjoyed the performance from The Eaglettes.
During half time, corporate guests could go back to the lounge for a quiet drink, and other fans could enjoy a classic burger or hot dog from the stalls.
We also got a visit from Namco Funscape’s Pacman and the Eagle mascot himself. It was great to see the kids interact.
The second half kicked off with The Cheshire Phoenixes in the lead, and quickly turned in to a point-for-point battle up until the last minute. With The Eagles smashing it and one minute to go, it seemed the game was over. I was already practicing my smug-walk and telling the other half how I was OBVIOUSLY good luck.
Not so much.
In the last forty seconds, the Phoenixes drew and then overtook The Eagles. The stadium couldn’t believe it.
Everyone left together and it was nice to see the comradery and friendly atmosphere continue despite the tense match.
A big thanks to Northern Print Solutions (link) who invited us along.