Well, it’s been a long time in the making, but after half a dozen years, tons of arguments, numerous mishaps and disappointments beyond number, the new Wembley finally staged a proper football match. Hooray shouts a nation (especially those amongst us who’ve been traipsing up to Old Trafford for what seems an eternity).
Of course, this is England, and as such it is impossible for the nation as a whole to breath a collective `Wow, what a fantastic stadium!` and be proud of having something that is world class. Oh no, what we have instead is our oh so wonderful tabloid press full of sniping and negativity. Too many column inches have been devoted to moans about refreshment prices, lifts not working, lack of parking and ongoing building work around the stadium environs.
Well, I say bollocks to all that, because from the moment you step out of Wembley Park tube and look out from the top of the stairs you are captivated by the arresting site that is the new Wembley. Of course, the lovable old twin towers were iconic and much loved, but anyone who experienced old Wembley knew that it was far from a glorious experience. Old Wembley was more about the combination of history and the event – and will, of course, always hold a special place in the hearts of every Gills fan who was there in 1999 and 2000. But it was never a great place to watch football. The old stadium was creaking, piss stained and dated, and the only sadness for its passing was in the richness of its football tapestry.
New Wembley is, and will be, a glorious place to watch football. Gone are the poor site lines, the dog track, the too shallow rake of the stands, the uncomfortable bucket seats, the numerous obstructions to your view. In their place we have leg room, a perfect view and a design holds your interest almost as long as the events on the pitch.
New life is going to be breathed into events that have been limping along for the last 6 years. The FA Cup is in need of a boost, and the play-off finals have just not been the same since decamping to Cardiff. Attendance at every final will surely increased severalfold by the return of Wembley Stadium. Because, let’s be honest, Wembley has something that no other stadium has, or ever could have.
That would be true even if the new stadium were mediocre – and the new stadium is a great venue. Do not let the tired tabloid hacks convince you otherwise.