When I was a die hard football fanatic, the thought of going to Wembley every season was like mecca. Thankfully I went four times as a Nottingham Forest supporter, but never quite managed to see an international match there. Wembley at that time was in dire need of a refurbishment. The whole place looked decrepit and I remember there was always a problem with the toilets over flowing.
Turn the clock forward twenty years and we now have a brand new sparkling stadium. Gone are the infamous twin towers but instead we have a stadium worthy of being our national homage.
I caught the coach with a whole host of other supporters in Nottingham, taking us just over 2hr 45mins to do the journey into Wembley. The approach is still the same, still have to go through
an industrial park to get there, but finally ending up just outside the stadium, parking in a concrete jungle.
The first view I saw was this:-
Not a bad old view is it? A fantastic structure. I was trying to relate it to how the old stadium stood, but having not been for over twenty years, it was hard to place where the twin towers once stood - I'm sure also we never used to park that close to the stadium either.
I had a good walk around the building and then located my entrance to the turnstile, which meant me climbing the stairs and walking round the side of the building, where I came across this:-
the Bobby Moore statue - captain of the 1966 World Cup team - you know the last time that England actually won something and didn't fall down on penalties! Quite a lot of people were hanging around here, which seemed to be the main meeting point. I had a wander around a bit more, bought an ice cream and a programme as you do - typical that the only day that it's blazing hot in this country and you are at a place where there is no shade!
Then the turnstiles opened and as my fair skin was beginning to get a little frazzled thought it was best to get inside and in the shade. The turnstiles are a new sophisticated system, where you place your ticket under a reader and then it beeps to allow you to push the turnstile open - so glad that I followed someone in that had done that before, because I would have just stood there not knowing what the heck to do! Then to my joy I found that I was in the noise bleed section of the stand, so five flights of stairs later (had to walk off the ice cream) I was there and thankfully the seat was just inside the entrance:-
My first view was this:-
The stadium was huge and something that my little camera couldn't really grasp the enormity of it all. I hasten to add that this was about 3:15pm when I took the photo - which was 1hr 30min before kick off. It was great to savour the atmosphere and the build up to the game. I people watched, I read my book for a little while and watched the stadium start to gradually fill up to a mind blowing 86,500 thousand people!
Which looked a little like this! The atmosphere was incredible, especially when everyone stood up to sing the national anthem. Then I have to say it fell a little flat. The game itself was dire. England were down 2-0 at one point. Some how when you don't feel that attached to the team (I barely knew any of the players and those I did know ended up going off injured) then it doesn't mean as much to see them win. But I savoured the occasion - I knew I probably wouldn't do it again. So I people watched again, which probably gives you an indication of how dire the game was and then at 80 mins I decided to head back to the coach park, as I didn't fancy coming out with the rest of the 86,000+ people.
So all in all, it was one of those tasks, very much similar to Wimbledon - glad I went, I enjoyed it whilst I was there but probably wouldn't do it again, but hey, you don't know until you try these things, do you?