It’s not often that I get to go to football matches these days. In fact, I hadn’t been to a game since before having children. I jumped at the chance when the people at Wembley Stadium got in touch to offer tickets to England Vs Malta.
I’d been to ‘new’ Wembley once before, but it was for a gig rather than a match. I was looking forward to seeing how it compared to the old stadium and watching on TV. Neither Dylan nor Xander were quite ready for the experience, so I took my dad. It was nice being able to do so after all the games he took me to when I was little!
Getting there was nice and easy. We got from where we live in East Sussex to Wembley Way in two hours. A great start. We hadn’t realised how close Wembley Park station was to the stadium – I must have gone to a different station last time – so it was quite an arresting sight to see the iconic arch from the top of the steps.
The atmosphere outside the stadium was completely different to any matches I’d been to before, but this was my first proper international match. The only one I’d been to previously was and England Schoolboys game at old Wembley. The banter between rival fans that is synonymous with club level was replaced by a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
After enjoying a hearty burger and chips on Wembley Way, we headed into a fan zone for a pre-match pint. It was pleasing to see fans from both countries in there and the atmosphere was again friendly. It was also nice that the beer cost less than I was expecting to pay given the big-name location!
Then it was time to head into the famous ground. It was easy to find our turnstile and we were quickly inside. There was plenty to choose from had we still been hungry and thirsty, including some tasty-looking street food and real ale as well as the fast food and lager I expected to see.
A photo posted by Tom Briggs (@diaryofthedad) on
Our section, row and seats were easy to find and I was amazed at how close we were to the pitch given the sheer size of Wembley.
The atmosphere remained friendly and relaxed as the stadium filled up and, before we knew it, the match was underway. Being closer to the action made me appreciate how good the close control of some players was.
Happily for us, we were closer to the end where both goals went in as England won 2-0. It should have been a much larger margin of victory, but despite the enthusiastic support of their fans in the opposite stand, Malta rarely threatened. A comfortable win in second gear in the end, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Despite a crowd of over 81,000 it still only took us two hours to get home. This was surprising and welcome in equal measure! In conclusion, it was a nice day out with my dad and visiting Wembley Stadium was an enjoyable experience.
It’s a welcoming venue that has clearly worked hard to be fan-friendly. The facilities were all good, it was easily accessible and didn’t feel claustrophobic despite the massive attendance.
I’m looking forward to visiting again and may have to go on a Wembley Stadium tour next time too!
Disclosure: I received a pair of tickets in exchange for a blog post about our day out.