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Wembley Stadium, London
League One Play Off Final
Blackpool v Yeovil Town

Sunday May 27th, 2007, 3pm
By Damian Feeney

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

My son and I journeyed to Wembley – for the first time – at the end of a season which had seen Blackpool achieve first an unlikely play off spot, and then a place at Wembley. There was the excitement of seeing Wembley for the first time, as well as the chance of promotion to the Championship.

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

We travelled up from Haywards Heath, having driven to stay with relatives the night before. A Train to Victoria, tube to Marylebone, and a train to Wembley – all ludicrously easy and very cheap on a Sunday. Arrived very early, on what was a filthy day.

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

First stop was a nearby greasy spoon for breakfast – decent food, quite reasonable: then to a local pub, where masses of fans from both sides mixed amiably. Eventually we headed off down the road to return to Wembley itself.
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground.

The ground was amazing. We didn’t come up the traditional ‘Wembley Way’ route but up the side. The Concourses are spacious, and the ground is visually impressive from the outside. There is a sense both of tradition and innovation both in the design of the ground and of some of the features. As someone for whom the demolition of the Twin Towers was heresy, I have to admit that the arch is breathtaking and can be seen from further afield. Nothing prepared us, however, for the sight of the ground from the inside. After gaining entrance we went through the refreshment/toilet area and into the ground. We were assaulted by vibrant red everywhere which, combined with the tangerine and green of the two sets of fans, made for a riot of colour.

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

All impressions of places are governed by the result – and for us this was a day in a million. Blackpool gained second tier status for the first time in nearly thirty years despite a gallant Yeovil display. The most memorable moment was a goal from nearly thirty yards – a curling shot into the corner by Keigan Parker which made the football world sit up and take notice. The atmosphere was fantastic – nearly 60,000 fans in the place – but slightly soured by the empty second tier and seats under the Royal Box – an irritating reminder of the importance of the corporate ethos. Facilities and stewarding were fine – but stewards can do little wrong when you win promotion – in fact, we thanked them for wearing tangerine!

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

After meeting up with some mates we headed into the queues for trains, only to find that we were just about the only fans heading for central London! We had another unhurried and serene journey back to Haywards Heath, with the rare experience of people on the Tube talking to us – including some very courteous and sporting Yeovil fans.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Fantastic. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I still question the location of the ground – London is still accepted unquestioningly as the centre of the universe, and Wembley is hardly central in London itself. Nevertheless what has been created will remain the benchmark in Football Stadium design for years, and is a wonderful venue for our show piece matches. I hope that occasionally England may again be persuaded to play the odd game north of Watford, but I fear (despite its success with the fans) that financial pressures (we’ve paid for it, may as well use it) will mean that Wembley is it from now on.

 
 

 

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