It’s not that long ago, really, that the only football matches played at Wembley were England internationals and FA Cup Finals. Then the League Cup Final, in 1967, between QPR and WBA was played at the stadium instead of being a two-legged tie.
Now, of course, football matches held at Wembley Stadium are no longer such a novelty – and they are also, thankfully, a much better experience for the spectator.
Now I’m not deriding the old Empire Stadium, as it was officially known, as it hosted some wonderful matches during its three quarters of a century. But even its most ardent supporters must admit that it was showing its age – to such an extent that more than just a ‘facelift’ was required to bring it into the twenty first century. When it was changed into an all-seater stadium, some of the seating put in had awful views and no leg room and, if you wanted to go to the toilet you had to be prepared to miss a good part of the match. Walking round the concourse beneath the stands really was like going back fifty years.
Not any more! The ‘new’ Wembley – or the ‘almost new’ Wembley now, I suppose we should call it, is a magnificent experience.
Let’s face it, anyone who has been to Old Trafford, the Emirates Stadium, Eastlands or similar state-of-the-art football grounds, will have high expectations nowadays. Grounds such as these have set remarkably high standards – there can’t be any European countries with as many wonderful stadiums. And Wembley loses nothing in comparison with any of them.
One of only five stadiums that FIFA has given a Five Star rating, Wembley is the second largest ground in Europe. Only Barcelona’s Nou Camp holds more spectators than Wembley’s 90,000 and I know where I’d rather be watching a match in the pouring rain! All seats at Wembley are undercover and the leg room now is such that you don’t have to sit with your knees almost touching your nose all game.
And as for the toilets – well, I’ll just say that I’ve been in Five Star hotels with less impressive facilities. And, with over two and a half thousand around the ground, you’ve almost got time to nip to the loo while a substitution is being made. วิเคราะห์บอล5
A lot was made of the inadequacies of the Wembley pitch for a while – the FA Cup semi-finalists in 2009 being especially critical. By the time the end of season round of Play Offs, internationals and the FA Cup Final itself came round, though, it had begun to look as if the initial teething problems had been dealt with.
The ‘new’ Wembley Stadium had to accept a good deal of criticism in the construction days. Spiralling budgets and missed deadlines led to an undisguised skepticism from many journalists and football supporters.
Now that people have been to the stadium, though, and enjoyed matches there, there can be little doubt that the whole experience has been a massive success.
If you’ve not been to Wembley yet, then take in a match as soon as you can. It would probably be best to use public transport to get there – Wembley Park and Wembley Central Underground stations and Wembley railway Station are all an easy walk away – and as soon as you see that magnificent arch towering above, you’ll know you’re in for a wonderful experience.