Monday 17 May 2010

Wembley Stadium

On Sunday I went to the new Wembley Stadium for the first time. Yes it was way over budget, & the pitch is rubbish...but it's still the most magnificent big stadium I've ever been in!

I am here for the Conference Play-off final between two former Football League clubs trying to win back their place there, namely Oxford United & York City.

It's not a game I would have chosen, indeed I am missing the Dulwich Hamlet Youth Team win the John Ullmann Memorial Cup, which was kicking off at 6.00pm at Thamesmead Town, as I had already purchased my ticket for this match. I am here as my Belgian friend Nicolas Lucas is over for the match, with two of his Belgian mates, to cheer on Oxford, who are one of his 'adopted' English sides. We have bought the tickets, kindly sorted for us, from John Matthews, who runs the Oxford United supporters' team. I will owe him a beer or two as thanks for that when I see him in just under a fortnight, at the Queen's Park supporters' sixes!

We have decent seats, immediately behind the goal in the Oxford end, but to be fair, I doubt if there's such a thing as a 'bad seat' in the new Wembley. Unlike the dump that was the old one! I must have been there dozens of times, down the years. My first game there was the 1977 FA Trophy Final between Dagenham & Scarborough; with my last one being the final match there, the one where Kevin Keegan resigned, following a lone goal defeat to Germany, in 2000.

The photos in this set, which is the largest of one venue I've published yet, are not arranged in any order by me, as in the 'usual' tour round the ground, as is my 'tried & tested formula'. Mainly because there are too many to sort, but instead it will be in chronological order as I took them, before, during & after the match.

There are some half-decent close-ups in this set, as I have invested in a slightly better digital camera, though still at the lower end of the range. But a good one for an 'amateur hobby snapper' like myself. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did my visit to the twin towers, opps I mean the Wembley arch! Old habits die hard! ;-)

This is what I'm here for!

Well you need the corporate partners to pay the bills I suppose!

This is my first view, coming out of Wembley Park tube station, looking down 'Wembley Way'.
Below the green sign is the steps down to the tunnel that leads to it.

There are tiled mosaics on the sides of the tunnel. This one represents the 1948 Olympic Games.

Almost everyone talks about going down 'Wembley Way', but it's official name is on the sign.

The road bridge above this tunnel is named after Bobby Moore.

Another section, with ice hockey on it, the Finals of this sport used to be played at the adjacent Wembley Arena.

Now through the tunnel, we see the underground station up above.

Not actually on the main walkway, there are a few 'unofficial' stalls on privately owned land, either side. Which the authorities would like to see the back of, because they are 'unsightly', but really because they undercut the official merchandise & food outlets.

Less than half price of the food on sale in the stadium.

BBC York were interviewing their fans from this mobile radio station, there was also one further along from BBC Oxford.

Getting closer! Going up the ramps toward the ground.

To our right is the Wembley Arena. This is the closest I got to seeing Dulwich Hamlet playing at Wembley, as in 1979 & 1980 the Isthmian League ran an indoor five a side competition here.

The famous Bobby Moore statue, the 1966 World Cup winning captain.

The arch above a halo maybe?

The team are on the plinth.

As is an England cap.

With a plaque, telling you about him.

This is one of the entrances to the posh Club Wembley area.

Here we look back down Wembley Way.

New Wembley, same old problems! A long queue outside for the toilets.

One of the points where the arch goes over the top of the stadium.

A map in case you're unsure of your bearings.

A shot of the exterior.

Another map of the place.

A small group of fans making their way up to the ground. I'm not entirely sure what two of them are dressed as!

Walking back round, I take a close up of the Bobby Moore statue.

Now inside, the concourses all have bars named after certain events, with pictures up above, from the history of the old stadium.

A group of Oxford fans pose for me.

Another shot of the concourse, with the vastly overpriced catering. Not exactly busy are they?

I suppose some people have more money than sense, but it is a captive audience, so sometimes you have no choice.

A victoious Leeds United side, with the League Cup, from the late sixties. this one is for my brother Ferenc, who is a Leeds fan.

Another old Wembley event. The Horse of the Year show! If you think the pitch is bad now, you should have seen cup final surfaces after that!

Another look down the wide spaces of the concourse.

A wonderfully old fashioned football hat!

In my seat now. This is my first view of the new Wembley Stadium!

The 'main' side, to my left, which is where the Royal Box is.

And to my right.

Here I look around my end, to the right.

And then glance to my left. Note those flags high up on the top tier.

Here we look down the left hand side.

This is the scoreboard...down the far end! This is full zoom, on my new camera, which will show you what an improvement it is on my previous ones!

The 'Constable' in question is the Oxford United star striker James Constable.

Those banners, high up in the 'gods', well this is the zoom on my new toy!

And again!

Another look across the pitch, with the lesser supported, but still well followed, York fans in view.

People are getting excited, the atmosphere is picking up.

Get those balloons up!

The teams are on their way out.

Ticker tape thrown in the air!

Flags waving.

Everyone at this end behind the Yellows!

Every detail covered by the scoreboard, there is one screen at either end.

Teams lining up prior to kick off.

Game on!

It's not just Geordies who go topless!

All over the ground.

Supporting the team!

This isn't a 'fuzzy' photo. It's the rain coming down!

Someone can't bear to watch. No, hang's one of those Chris Wilder (Oxford manager) masks!

Being in final isn't always good for the nerves!

A little bit of action on the pitch.

Someone move that goalnet support!

Another Oxford attack.

An 'occupational hazard' of trying to take pictures at a big match!

How retro! Inflatable bananas.

Two one ahead, minutes to go...shoot...

And he's scored! Game over!

This man was in the row behind me. He was 'moaning' all game, but in truth he was a bundle of nerves. Here he is choked up, he shed more than one tear. This game is for people like him, for all the bad times there have been, moments like these make it all worthwhile.

Applause at the end.

The celebrations start.

With the scoreboard behind us saying it all.

Party time on the pitch.

With the huge swathes of yellow celebrating!

The team milking it, & rightly so, in front of the massive Oxford contingent.

The champagne is ready to go!

A despondant York City side troop back down the steps.

Most of their fans already on their way home.

This is the moment over 30,000 Oxonians have been waiting for!

The actual Royal Box is hardly viewablr from behind the goal, thankfully it's all covered on the big screen.

The Yellow Army salute their heroes.

On the big screen...and my camera!

Time for the party to begin!

There goes the champagne!

And that trophy means Oxford are back in the Football League!

"We did it!"

The 'half' lap of honour is in full swing.

The players acknowledge the magnificent support.

Time for the celebratory group dive!

Wheeee! That was fun!

Another banana!

That's it. All over.

They will...once they get round to leaving!

I asked this fan if I could take his photo...

He insisted I take one of the tattoo on his leg well!

The show is almost over, time to go...

The York City end completely empty now.

On the phone telling absent friends the score...

Special t-shirts for the day.

Come on! You won you know!

Views of the new Wembley Stadium,without most of the crowd. Down the right.

Behind our goal.

To the left.

And across the pitch, to the far end.

Up the steps, I'm one of the last to leave.

Going with these stragglers.

Balloons & cardboard 'clappers' left behind.

Oxford coloured Union Flag, with the gaffer's mugshot on the back!

Last look at the place, slightly higher up. to the right.

And the other side.

And, lastly, directly across the pitch.

This is a glimpse of the stadium, from one of the 'gates'.

'Sanitised' football. Some neccessary, some a bit over the top. Football is a passionate game, after all!

Back down on the concourse.

Another Leeds pic for my brother, this time from their 1972 FA Cup Final victory.

Funnily enough, I never read all these on the way in!

Now we're back outside, with another look over to the Wembley Arena.

On the way home...

Fans drifting down Wembley Way.

Sheer happiness outside.

Group photos everywhere.

None more so than under the watchful eye of Bobby Moore, who ironically was once manager of their lowly rivals Oxford City!

How'd he get up there? ;-)

Blimey! Talk about dress up for the occasion!

A lot of hot air from their FORMER league sponsors!

I couldn't resist asking to take their photos, as soon as I spotted their 'old fashioned' rosettes.

A banner asking us to 'back the bid', the day the 'Traitor' Triesman scandal broke!

Grr!!! Live football is being at a game, not being a couch potato in front of the telly at home!

And that concludes my wonderful trip to Wembley, supporting Oxford United for the day. If you don't mind a little indulgence....a snap of myself!

And to of my good Belgian friend, Nicolas Lucas. He is the one who asked me to come to game, & arranged for the tickets to be bought from John. Merci Nicolas! (The young lad behind him is one of his Belgian friends, who travelled over with him)


Anonymous said...

Hi, great pics. Just wondering how the view was looking towards the other side of the pitch? I've got tickets for next weekend in a similar area to where you was stood, just a couple of rows higher.

Rabbler said...

The view was alright, unobstructed, apart from the crossbar in front of me, but nothing you can do about that.

Anonymous said...

I went to the FA VASE final this year and was distinctly underwhealmed by the stadium. The sightlines are very poor from the lower seating at the ends and the upper sections are too far away from the playing area. I spent most of the game watching the action on the screens.

I have been to most of the 2002 and 2006 world cup stadiums and they are far superior.