I’ll be honest here and admit straight off the bat that I’m not sure if this one counts. Despite this being the home of football, and me being here for a football game, I’m not sure the Jacksonville Jaguars vs San Francisco 49ers in the NFL counts as “proper” football.
Previous to my visit for some American Football, I’d only ever been to Wembley once before, for Sunderland’s memorable 1998 play-off defeat at the hands of Charlton Athletic. It might have been a devastating memory, in a ground that was evidently on its last legs, but there was something brilliant about the old lady. Despite seeing hearts broken all around me, the sight of those famous Twin Towers poking their head above the stadium was absolutely magical.
To say I was on the fence ahead of my trip back to Wembley would be an understatement. It drew widespread criticism for being delayed and over budget when it finally opened in 2007, and the Wembley Arch replacing the Twin Towers was, to me, pitiful. You can’t just replace something iconic with something big. Legends need time to become just that.
However, as I emerged from Wembley Park tube station and the new home of football stood in front of me, it was hard not to get excited. It’s a beautiful looking stadium. The arch dominates the skyline and whilst I’m not convinced it’s a brilliant landmark its architects would have you believe, it certainly makes the stadium stand out.
There’s no greater feeling than walking up Wembley Way, packed with excited fans, but it was inside the stadium that the real treat was to come. Having climbed what felt like an eternity of staircases, we emerged into the bowl of the stadium right near the top. The view was spectacular.
It’s hard to say what makes Wembley such a special stadium, but it’s magnificent. The view was stunning, whilst we were high up in the gods we still seemed near the action, and there doesn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house. Perhaps more than anything, it’s just spectacular to be sat inside a stadium this big.
I was totally won over by Wembley. I’m a massive fan of an old ground with character, than some pristine soulless theme park on the outskirts of town. But Wembley succeeds where so many new grounds have failed – put simply it’s beautiful.