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The Wroclaw Municipal Stadium

Dropped in at the Wroclaw Municipal Stadium on the outskirts of Wroclaw the new home of Slask Wroclaw on the way back to the UK after the Euro 2012 tournament and I can honestly say that this stadium that is supposed to resemble a Chinese lantern – definitely doesn’t! It does however look like a giant lamp shade. On taking pictures for this article and for nostalgia it became apparent no matter where you stand around the ground on the ‘esplanade’ you would get the same image. The stadium is pretty much a huge concrete and metal grey box (said to have a capacity of 42,771) with no fancy sponsorship/ advertising hoardings or light shows like that of the National Stadium in Warsaw. Though it does fulfil JSK Architekci architects vision – the stadium is recognisable and does reflect a dynamic city.

Approching the lantern in Wroclaw

Approching the lantern in Wroclaw

The Muncipal Sadium, Wroclaw a.k.a The Chinese Lantern
From the stadiums that were visited on this tour across Poland and the Ukraine the legacy of this stadium has the greatest visible impact on the surrounding community and locality. As we travelled towards the ground we journeyed along a hung new motorway that was encased in giant metal concave blockades that must have been introduced as noise defenders for the local area which to be honest looked like that they would amplify the noise of the traffic not reduce it! Moreover, and I wish I had taken some photos many of the local communistic drab building that should be knocked down were being overhauled and repainted in funky and bright colours – whole blocks of flats painted in reds, blues and yellows were a truly fantastic site and certainly added warmth to a very suburban area. Further developments were also being developed to the north east of the stadium; these buildings seemed to be more executive – lower rising houses and apartments which looked very flash and expensive.

The Muncipal Sadium, Wroclaw a.k.a The Chinese Lantern

The Muncipal Sadium, Wroclaw a.k.a The Chinese Lantern

Approching the lantern in Wroclaw
It was clear to see that the city of Wroclaw embraced the giant lantern that resides a good 30 minutes drive west of the city centre which I later discovered was opened by a George Michael concert and then later the WBC heavyweight title between Tomasz Adamek and Vitali Klitschko in September 2011. But only a few days after the group games had finished in this historic city it was if a huge football tournament had not been held in the city as it was so quiet in and around the city centre and the Wroclaw Municipal Stadium.

The story behind the Arena Lviv Experience – Denmark V Germany, Euro 18-07-2012

Arena Liviv is a new stadium developed for Euro 2012 and situated approximately 8 kilometres (20 minute taxi ride) to the south of the city and is the new home for FC Karpaty Lviv. Construction started in November 2008 with a budget of €70.4 and was officially opened on 10 December 2011 with a vast theatrical production dedicated to the history of the city of Lviv. The stadium enjoyed its first taste of international football between Ukraine and Austria, resulting in a 2–1 to the Ukraine.

Close up of Lviv Arena

Close up of Lviv Arena

Approach Arena Lviv My first visit to the ground was during the sweltering heat of day to collect my ticket for that evening’s game between Germany and Denmark. I wasn’t impressed by the ground, the whole complex could have been designed much more stylish and impressive had more thought been applied. It resembled a box in a huge unfinished car park (4’500 vehicle capacity) that had a long giant ramp to one side which would have been a nightmare to those in a wheel chair and a huge ‘media centre’ along the main stand. The stadium itself had bazaar lines across it that looked like a poor attempt at replicating the Birds nest stadium in Beijing. Such lines did actually illuminate in different colours in the evening. On a plus note, the ground is literally next to a motorway and a short distances walk from an out of town shopping centre which combined offered plenty of car/ coach parking and easy access away from Lviv itself.

On returning to the stadium that evening for the game there were plenty of shuttle buses to and from the stadium though organisation of the bus pick up points could have been handled and arrange much more professionally in order to avoid a accident and a mad scramble for transport.

Approach Arena Lviv

Approach Arena Lviv

The stadium itself is extremely traditional in design and has no great running track around it like the Olympic stadium in Kviv. The complex was extremely practical in its layout, comprising of two tiers which generated an enjoyable atmosphere. The large ramp provided access to the central concourse for spectators and motorised service and emergency transport.

Close up of Lviv Arena The ground is all seater and visibility is extremely good a feature heavily promoted in tournament and stadia literature, though TV cameras situated within the main stand did obstruct the view of the pitch for some.

A major criticism of the ground is its capacity, approximately 30’000! How come such an ‘intimate’ ground was being used for such a high profile competition? Yes, previous Euro tournaments utilised modest size stadia during the group stages of tournaments but none were this small! A more long term view would be – can FC Karpaty Lviv fill the ground once it becomes their home after the finals? A team most will have never heard of at the time of writing. The ground itself plays host to three group games form group B of the Euro 2012 competition.

Non alcoholic beer was offered by stadium staff that patrolled the seating area of the stadium, a scene similar to many event stadia used across the USA and a good touch provided that the beer was not flat and those offering the service did not stand in your way whilst serving their customers.

Further stadia research revealed that during Euro 2012 matches and other large events patrons can enjoy 19 fast food restaurants, located on the concourse of the stadium and seven fast food restaurants in the outer perimeter of the stadium – employing a total of 300 hospitality staff on event days.

The media centre (the arena’s western stand) housed a five story administrative building offering 522 seats for media representatives and 104 for the disabled throughout the tournament. In addition there were rooms for players and coaches, conference room, area for VIP persons, premises for the organizers of the championship, as well as many commercial areas. The ground also held a restaurant for up to 700 guests.

The stadium though basic serves the needs of its visitors on a match day – a concrete structure offering little in the name of spirit, charm or inspiration when approaching or walking around the ground. Though a true atmospheric experience was generated and was extremely enjoyable within the confines of the ground, it’s a shame that the ground was not larger to capitalise on this. To simply surmise, practical though not inspirational

THE OLYMPIC STADIUM KIEV REVIEW whilst supporting England

The Olympic Stadium is located in city centre Kiev, at the foot of the Cherepanova Hill. Whose capacity is 60’000 though certain literature suggests that the capacity is closer to 70’050. Nonetheless the Olympic Stadium is the second largest in Eastern Europe after Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium but the largest to be used during Euro 2012. The stadium will host the final on 01st June 2012 and four additional matches throughout the competition.

Approaching the Olympic Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine

Outside before Sweden v England, Euro 2012

The stadium has undergone major transformation since it opened in August 1923 under the name of Red Stadium of Leon Trotsky. The ground later played host to the summer Olympics in 1980 and was renamed after Ukrainian independence in 1991, the stadium was later given national status in 1996 and renamed again as the Olympic National Sports Complex.

Further developments have been made in preparation for Euro 2012 and the stadium is thus unrecognisable since its initial design and construction. The whole stadia comprises of two tiers; the lower tier and west stand being demolished and re built, with the west stand now housing a two-level press box and further luxury boxes between the two tiers. A state of the art athletics track now surrounds the pitch and the whole seating area is now covered by a semi transparent roof which is unique in design, and of course no new super stadia would be complete without a swanky hotel to boast. The rejuvenated complex was re opened in October 2011 with a concert by Shakira, and the first international football match was played a month later in a thrilling 3-3 draw between the Ukraine and Germany.

The roof of the Olympic Stadium The Olympic stadium is very accessible being located in the city centre but has no general car park and as a result the area around the stadium does get extremely busy on match/ event days. Park and ride buses were laid on during Euro 2012 and will no doubt continue on match/ event days after the tournament. Moreover, the Olympic Stadium has 145 seats for disabled fans and a further 150 accessible parking spaces, but during the Euro 2012 tournament these were only available if you booked in advance with UEFA.

The roof of the Olympic Stadium

The roof of the Olympic Stadium

During Euro 2012, in particularly the Sweden v England mach played on 15.06.2011 access to the stadium included a routine ticket and security check before entering the vicinity around the ground. Stadium entry required tickets scanning at turnstiles similar to that used at many Premiership grounds in England.  Patrons enter the ground on the concourse separating the two tiers where you are free to travel around the ground. Lifts are situated around the ground assisting access to the upper tier. Catering is provided within the ground though exceptional queues raised questions whether more could be done to accommodate demand on match/ event days.

Throughout the Euro 2012 tournament all stadia were open two hours before kickoff enabling easy access. On writing this article one would expect such a policy to continue after the tournament when the stadium becomes the new home of Dynamo Kiev.

Just before Kick Off, England vs Sweden at the Olympic Stadium, Kiev - Euro 2012

Just before Kick Off, England vs Sweden at the Olympic Stadium, Kiev – Euro 2012

Most will agree that an athletics track around a pitch has a detrimental effect on the atmosphere within the ground. In addition many tickets for Euro 2012 were sold with restrict views, possible causes of this were television camera booms behind the goals and the size of the advertising hoardings that eliminated the vast majority of the six yard box and corner areas if sat directly behind the goals. However, the experience although totally different compared to that enjoyed at a traditional football grounds was unique and that made the whole experience of the ground and match memorable in its own right especially as segregation was limited and Sweden had many more supporters than England on the night.

 

The Wow factor with packaging

The other week I ordered a pair of jeans from www.matches.com. I missed the delivery so I had to collect from my local DHL depot. I was told that my consignment weighed 1.4kg – for a pair of jeans, surely something wrong here!

On being presented with my consignment I was stunned to hold such a fancy package – what a box to encase a pair of jeans. On further inspection when I returned home I could not believe what I was seeing – check out the fancy bow and wrapping. Why can all web orders come like this?

It was then when it hit me, were Matches trying to impress or was this a stealth exercise? Matches normally charge a whopping £8.00 for delivery, which I think is excess. I didn’t pay delivery I used a voucher from a voucher site. I soon found out what the £8.00 covered. Do you think this experience was worth £8.00? The shock was greatly received and I suppose you can argue that if you order a fancy Westwood suit or something that’s equal then £8.00 is nothing, but why charge it anyway? Nevertheless, keep up the good work Matches. Keep impressing everyone, but everyone keep your eyes peeled for the free delivery options. A tip for the future Matches make delivery less expensive!

 

Baracuta – a snap shot

1937 John Miller gained permission to use the Fraser tartan. By 1939 both John and Isaac Miller owners of a garment factory on Chorlton Street, Manchester saw they dream and designed a revolutionary waterproof jacket, yet little did they know what a profound effect on the world it was about to have. In 1947 the G9 jacket was described in the media as being the best rainwear. By the 1950s through its popular growth Isaac saw an opportunity to grasp and expand in America and Canada. In 1954 Elvis wore the G9 jacket in the film ‘King Creole’ already creating an icon. In the 1960s the Baracuta G9 jacket was proving even more popular, Steve McQueen was pictured on the front of Life magazine wearing one. In 1964 actor Ryan O’Neal wears the G9 jacket in the soap ‘Peyton Place’ its named the ‘Harrington’. In 1970 professional golfer Arnold Palmer launches his own golf collection with the help of Baracutas G9 Harrington. By 1980 the G9 Harrington becomes popular with Brit punks, in 1981 the Clash wore them for their string of gigs in New York’s time square. Today the popularity of the Baracuta G9 Harrington is just as popular having been worn by many well known celebrities that include Razorlight, Frank Sinatra, Pete Doherty, The Charlatans, Liam Gallagher, Thierry Henry and James Bond star.

Quality first – the secret behind British mens shoes brand, Grenson

Quintessentially British Grenson shoes are arguably one of the finest shoe brands in the world incorporating 140 years of heritage and one that have always bared the wholemarks of founder William Green ‘Quality first’. Even in more recent times following the revitalisation by Christian Purslow, formally Chief Executive of Liverpool FC and Tim Little dubbed by the press as the ‘god father of sole’ for his cool approach to revitalising the traditional English shoe industry. The reborn collection combines the traditions and craftsmanship of Grensons founding philosophy with a modern twist ideal for the modern generation – the Rushden Collection. The end product is the chunky soled brogue and Chelsea boots in mahogany; chestnut and tan while slimmer cast desert boot styles in beige suede have a more elegant appeal.

Founded in 1886 by William Green, the modern day Grenson often referred to as ‘England’s Master Shoemakers’ derives from a family based cottage industry craft where William helped his mother produce men’s boots following the death of his father in 1839 and the family relocation to Rushden, Northamptonshire. Green assisted his mother in their family craft until 1860 when he moved out of home and continued this in his own home until 1866.

In 1866, William stopped producing shoes and boots in his house and instead became a ‘factor’. Meaning Green went out and gained orders, sourced materials and recruited craftsmen to make the much loved and soon to be sort after men’s shoe and boots. This progression resulted in the formulation of the company that became known as William Green & Son and one that enjoyed a growing order book from London based wholesalers who warmed to the boots and shoes and which soon became famous for their quality, craftsmanship and durability. Flourishing and attracting the finest boot makers Green set up the first factory to be opened in 1874. The ‘Greens Yard’ factory was the first factory in the world to use the Goodyear welt construction method for manufacturing gentlemen’s shoes. ‘Green & Son’ soon became Grenson, a powerful brand which still dominates the shoe industry today.

Twenty years on, in 1895, Grenson moved to larger premises to accommodate for the surge in demand which they experienced throughout the nineteenth century. The factory is still there now on Queen Street and is the heart of this thriving shoe business.

William died in 1901 but he had left behind him such a solid foundation that the company continued to go from strength to strength during the twentieth century. The Queen Street factory was further enlarged and the ‘Grenson’ brand was registered in 1913 (in fact, it is true that Grenson was the first brand name ever to be registered in the UK so it is clear how advanced the thinking behind this shoe company was and continues to be). Thereafter, Grenson shoes were sold directly to retailers across the globe which further spread the message that Grenson shoes were a force to be reckoned with in the global shoe industry.

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Design a suit to suit you – featured on www.designasuit.co.uk

It’s common place to make your own sandwich – choosing the bread, contents and garnish. Everyone is familiar with choosing your pizza toppings and flavours of ice cream but now Designasuit gives you the opportunity to design your own suit. By giving the customer the power of a tailor direct to your fingertips at www.designasuit.co.uk

The step by step guide spells it out in a few easy steps to designing your own suit. It’s an excellent idea I designed my suit in no time at all. No matter what the purpose – casual, business or for that special occasion the site was so straight forward it’s hard to go wrong. If like me your no expert in suits each stage and feature is spelt out and illustrated clearly for your seal of approval. What’s more if you are unhappy you can go back and amend your choice – I asked myself the question would a single or double breasted blazer suit me better with the collar and pockets style I was after. A few clicks later I could see for myself as the suit I design was presented in front of me.

All suits are made from a durable wool and cashmere blend and priced the same. With a reputation for quality you too can feel the celebrity suit experience. It has to be said Designasuit encourages control allowing users to upload images that have caught the eye and inspired.

Full marks for usability everything is spelt out and clear to use putting you the designer in the driving seat. Payment was no problem the site caters for all the leading Credit Cards and PayPal too. Delivery is quick and free my suit designed, made seal and delivered all within 21 working days.