At the “old” Wembley, the winners of a final would not have their medals and trophy presented on the pitch as is usual in many stadia, but would climb 39 steps to the Royal Box for the presentation. That tradition has been continued here in the new stadium, but instead of 39 steps there are now 107. I guess that means Her Majesty now has a better view (not that she seems to get to many matches) but it’s tough on the players’ tired legs!
Anyway, the final highlight of a tour is to follow in their footsteps and ascend to the Royal Box. Here a replica FA Cup is on display, and you are able to pose with it (although lifting it is not allowed for fear you drop it). Of course a photographer is on hand to record the moment, and of course you are later offered the chance to buy the photo. But two things surprised me. Firstly, that there was no hard sell – the photos were being sold in a special booth that was pointed out to us but no more than that. And secondly, that the prices were reasonable - £10 for one large image, £5 for each extra one. So we bought two (one for each family) for just £7.50 each – not a bad price for a unique souvenir, not just of our tour but of our pleasant week together.
By the way, I had thought that I would capture one or two photos of our party with the cup but that’s pretty hard to do with the professional photographer monopolising it – the best I could manage was one of the cup on its own (photo 2).
If the stadium looks big from the stands, it looks enormous from pitch-side, with the stands towering above you on all sides. It is easy to imagine that it could be pretty intimidating for an inexperienced player, especially one from an overseas team playing England here, with almost all the fans cheering for the opposite side.
Of course we were not allowed to run out on to the pitch as the players do, but the grass at the side was accessible. Our friend Werner was so thrilled to be here that he got down on his knees to kiss the Wembley turf! Another thrill that is permitted is to sit in the dug-out and imagine that maybe you are a reserve player for your favourite team and about to come on as a substitute. Or maybe you are the manager, spurring your side on to greater efforts! Either way, it’s an experience you don’t have very often, so make the most of it.
From the changing rooms we were led to the tunnel where the players line up ready to go out into the stadium – home side on the left, away team on the right. We all lined up, more quiz questions were asked and children (carefully selected to be different ones this time) won the right to lead us out. As our “captains” for the day pushed open the doors and we walked out, music blared out from the speakers, and you could easily imagine how it might be on match-day, with the roar of the crowd sending shivers down your spine!
151 Wembley Park Drive, Wembley, HA9 8HQ, gb
Good for: Families
Dagmar Avenue, Wembley, HA9 8DF, United Kingdom
Good for: Solo
652 Harrow Road, Wembley, Wembley, United Kingdom
Good for: Families
38-42 London Road, Wembley, HA9 7EX, gb
Good for: Solo
6 - 8 Nicoll Road, Wembley, NW10 9AB, United Kingdom
Good for: Couples
138 Greenford Road, Wembley, HA1 3QL, United Kingdom
Good for: Business
The shop at Wembley Stadium is pretty big and avid football fans, and souvenir hunters, will be kept occupied for some time and should find something that pleases them. There are certainly items to suit all pockets, from pencils and key chains at the bottom end to limited edition models of the stadium at the top. The goods are displayed in two rooms – the back one has mostly clothing while most of the rest is in the front. Among the former you’ll find football strips – England’s, naturally, but also those of teams who’ve played here recently. There are also t-shirts and other items bearing the Wembley logo. Other souvenirs include footballs, teddy bears (in Wembley t-shirts or England strips), mugs, pictures, DVDs, jewellery, posters, badges etc. etc. etc.
Michael bought t-shirts for himself and a friend, a poster and a football. I don’t know what the total was but I know he was happy with the prices and thought his pocket money well spent!