Wonderful stadium and fine concert; shame about hospitality at the Amex

Can Albion set a new Amex attendance record?
Can Albion set a new Amex attendance record?

I just love the Amex stadium. I think it is a great asset for our city and Tony Bloom deserves a knighthood.

I just love the Amex stadium. I think it is a great asset for our city and Tony Bloom deserves a knighthood, as far as I am concerned, for all he has done so far.

Even as someone who knows less about football than Jason Kitcat does about running the council, I purchased two 1901 Club seats. And, if my sons are not using them, I am even allowed to go. Fabulous facility, great for the city, parking is crap - but that is not their fault - and the building is 21st-century cutting-edge technology.

But boy, oh boy, do they need some serious training in the hospitality sector! A classic example for me was the Rod Stewart concert.

I have seen Rod many times and think he is one of the music industry’s most versatile and talented performers. I think the standard entry charge of £60 was about right. However, having had long enough to forget that you do not usually experience the sort of food dished up in the Amex at under 30,000 feet, I booked the "gold package". This boasted a four-course dining-room experience and, against my better judgement, I purchased two tickets at a cost of £249 each.

The doors opened at 5pm and we were advised to arrive by about 5.30pm to be seated. Which we duly did. Within minutes, we were being asked what we wanted by a very pleasant young man. Having had the distinct impression from glancing at the one-A3-page menu that there was only one choice, I was beginning to wonder whether he was pulling my leg or just a bit thick.

I asked him if there was perhaps another menu. No, he replied, there was only one menu - unless I was vegetarian. Having informed him that I was not, he assured us that "no worries", he would go and get our starter. Having then ordered a bottle of wine, I was a little surprised to find it was not included in the very expensive dining-room experience.

We settled down to the starter, rapidly followed by the main course, and after about 45 minutes we were being offered dessert. We suggested we might like to slow down a bit as the first act did not come on until 7.30pm and it was still only 6.15pm. "No worries", the pleasant young man assured us again, before ambling off.

Having hung it out as long as possible and dawdled as long as humanly possible over dessert, we were asked whether we wanted tea or coffee. Having sampled their coffee before, we opted for tea. When this arrived it was half a cup of warm water with a teabag lobbed in. I suggested that for the sort of money that was being charged perhaps a teapot might have been in order.

Looking at our watches, we realised we had only half an hour left to kill and so decided to visit the restrooms and then take our seats. This was when I experienced the best bit of entertainment so far and worthy of a comedy sketch.

Having visited the restrooms and wondering what to do with the next 25 minutes, we bumped into a friend who was making her way back into the next dining room to ours. “We’re all in next door. Come and have a drink with us before the show starts,” our friend said. Great, I thought, things are looking up.

The feeling of well-being, however, was soon dispelled, when a lady - possibly better suited to being a prison guard - suddenly informed me: "’ere, you can’t stay in ‘ere, sir".

Expecting at any moment to be wrestled to the ground and cuffed, we rushed our drinks and left to find our seats.

I have to say Rod was as good as ever and, if I could have skipped the dining-room experience, I would have no real complaints. There were a fine crowd of people around us and the atmosphere was electric.

But I am afraid they will be struggling to convince me to dine with them again. I would rather have fish and chips on the seafront.