Friday 31 August 2007

Wembley Stadium, north west London

A vast and almost magnificent edifice rising above a grim, run-down part of northern London, the new Wembley Stadium is a fitting, if grotesquely expensive, replacement to its historic and much-loved predecessor. The semi-circular arc that rises from the retractable roof and swoops across the sky makes the stadium a distinctive landmark for miles around. When you first enter one of the stands, you will catch your breath as you take in the 90,000 seats all within close proximity and with a good view of the hallowed turf. Each fan is allocated a plush and comfortable red seat, yet the atmosphere is as charged as ever. There are two huge screens, which replay goals and good chances, at each end of the ground and the stadium is flush with toilets. Unfortunately, leaving the new Wembley isn't much faster than it was with the original. The crowds and the scarcity of transport links mean it can easily take more than an hour to get down Wembley Way to the Wembley Park tube station, which is only about half a mile from the striking and serene bronze statue of Bobby Moore in front of the stadium. Even so, this is a fine home for the England team and the pressure is now on the players to demonstrate it is also a fitting one. 8/10