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Wembley Stadium, London
FA Trophy Final
Kidderminster Harriers v Stevenage Borough
 
Saturday May 12th, 2007, 3pm
By Glyn Berrington

Travel plans went just slightly awry so we arrived at the new (so new it ain't on the maps!) Wembley Stadium Rail Station (rather than Wembley Park Underground as planned) - in fact this saved us both money and time and is less than 5 minutes walk from the stadium.

Initial impressions:

* the arch isn't nearly as big or impressive as we'd been led to believe
* ditto the stadium - it is considerably taller than the old version (as we found inside this is essentially because the rake on the seats is much better) but otherwise it's really no more impressive from the outside than Hampden, Millennium Stadium or even Man City's Eastlands
* not a litter bin in sight, either outside (or subsequently inside) the stadium, so people just throw their rubbish on the floor
* Bobby Moore statue is very good - (after the game it was a focal point for people taking photos and thus causing bottlenecks as people try to leave the stadium!)
* just one toilet accessible from outside which isn't nearly big enough to cope with demand, and there was already a long queue for the ladies
* one food outlet outside, so we had our first sight of people being daft enough to queue to pay the ridiculous prices for very mediocre fare

Inside:

* stewards useless, the "search" was non-existent or at best inexhaustive; (the escalators are wonderful!); they don't show you to your seats; we asked one where the Royal Box was, he didn't know.
* the stadium inside is good, not a bad seat in the house, legroom is pretty good, but as people are getting bigger it needs to be - and the seats could also do with being wider!
* two good quality screens showing clear graphics, some bits of film of old Wembley, and adverts for Carlsberg (see below)
* PA system too loud, ditto music, and the guy on the PA said far too much and far too often. In my previous visits to old Wembley, it was the crowd who generated the atmosphere - they seem to think that now they have to do so with music and exhortations to cheer on your team. It was virtually impossible to have a conversation, some poor folks were trying valiantly to have phone conversations. For pity's sake, 52300+ people today would have been perfectly capable of generating their own noise and all the more so next Saturday when 80k are in.

The Game Itself:

The archetypal game of two halves, Kidder 2 up at HT and could/should have been 4 or 5 up - I voiced concerns that they needed a 3rd to make the game safe. I was right! Never played at all 2nd half, we agreed that Kidder lost it rather than Stevenage winning it, very disappointing (especially for 3 TNS fans masquerading as Kidder fans in red/white/black whereas yours truly wore the TNS colours proudly!!)

Afterwards

* More annoying and unnecessary loud music at full time and during the presentations (and yet more adverts for Carlsberg on the big screen!!)

* walked down the steps to exit the stadium, no signing to tell you when you're at ground level so we could easily have gone down to the car park level had we not followed the crowd.

* joined the queue to the Station, policeman on horseback giving instructions through a megaphone on which queue to join. We hit the back of a line, having no idea how long it might take to board a train, and one obnoxious Southerner behind us was already whingeing about having to queue. But in practice, we were on a train within about 15 minutes, back at West Ruislip within another 20 minutes and at the Coach and Horses near Alvechurch for two very pleasant pints of Old Hooky within 2 hours of the Final Whistle!!

Summary

* The stadium is good, but with what it's cost and the lessons they should have learned from other new stadia around the world it could be a lot better;

* The organisation is pathetic;

* It's in the wrong place, should have been built near the NEC!!

Read yet another article last night glorifying "the best stadium in the world", I was reminded that the walkway that my pal and I used to access the stadium from the new Railway Station is the "White Horse Bridge", thus named by the listeners of Five Live in a competition in honour of Billy, the hero of the 1923 Cup Final. Trouble is, there's no sign there to tell you that that's what it is and it is in the middle of what remains a building site.

Have spoken today to others who were there, all are unimpressed, and talk of rust, one coat of paint, poor finish, etc etc etc

I'm told by someone who knows that the absence of litter-bins has to do with terrorism in London, if you looked hard enough you would find some poor chap wandering around with a black sack and could give your litter to him - but in practice folks were just chucking or placing their rubbish on the floor, so what's to stop a terrorist doing likewise with his bomb, or whatever?

And from the fact that we still have litter-bins here in the Midlands, do I take it it's OK for terrorists to attack us then?!

 

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