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Wembley Stadium
 
Liverpool v Everton
Saturday, April 14th, 2012, 12.30pm
EFA Cup Semi Final
By C Moss


1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

Was my first trip to Wembley (old or new) and was looking forward to the chance to see something a little bit more impressive than the average Premier/Football League stadium. Plus the tantalising chance to book our ticket for the final and annoy Liverpool fans, all at the same time.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

Due to the FA's bright idea of holding a semi-final between two teams from the opposite end of the country at half 12.30pm, then I had to get a 7.30am train down from Sheffield, to make sure I had plenty of time to get to the ground. Those coming from Liverpool left even earlier. That said, once you're in London, getting there's a lot easier than you assume. Metropolitan Line underground train from St Pancras to Wembley Park was quick and efficient, if a little crowded as you'd expect. From there it's a short amble towards the stadium along Wembley Way. Was probably improved by the fact that both sets of fans get on reasonably well, there was a nice carnival atmosphere, and police, though out in force, were perfectly friendly. If you're getting the train down, I recommend getting a zones 1-4 Travelcard with your ticket, will save money if you're getting the tube there and back into the city.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

Hung around outside Wembley Park station for a bit milling with the fans and having a sandwich. As a general rule I don't drink until the afternoon. Didn't see or hear of any trouble though. Police had allocated different pubs to both sets of fans, and these had been announced by the two clubs beforehand.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

Coming up Wembley Way, it's an absolutely fantastic sight, definitely befitting a national stadium. Effort definitely went into the fitting out, everything's very tidy and clean, both as you enter the ground and in the concourse areas. No cold brick-lined or breeze block areas here. Concourses and tunnels are spacious and everything is well sign-posted.

I was sat at the back of Block 545, in the West Stand's upper tier slightly to the left (from your view) of the goal. Even being that far back, the view is truly impressive and you can see pretty much the entire stadium without any restricted views.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc.

Being a derby and a cup semi-final the atmosphere was pretty intense as you'd expect, though no trouble. Both sides observed the minutes silence in memory of Hillsborough impeccably and the banter was pretty good-natured, though you'll always have the odd idiot on both sides. Stewards were definitely some of the best I've seen. A few drunk lads meandering around the stairways were dealt with non-aggressively and politely directed to a seat rather than the throw out first, ask questions later style you can see at some grounds.£5 a programme seems a bit steep, but I was willing to pay for the memento. Probably wouldn't if I was there for just for an International though. Drinks and food are pretty expensive, but that's looking through the eyes of a Northerner. Didn't sample myself but the guy sat next to me seemed to enjoy his pie.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Not too bad. Walking back to Wembley Park takes a while due to the crowds, and the Police briefly held us back as the ticket hall overran. Was still on my train back to St Pancras within a little more than half an hour after the final whistle. Didn't see any trouble between fans leaving, both sets mingling without incident or any need for segregation.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Well worth a visit, even if we did lose. Well designed stadium, and actually has an atmosphere unlike many other recent new builds. £30 for a ticket is also pretty good value, considering I normally pay £31 or more for a seat in the Gwladys Street End at Goodison.

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