It should come as no surprise to anyone who is at all familiar with sporting events or music that Wembley Stadium is likely one of the most iconic venues in the UK, if not the world. It first appeared amongst the London skyline in 1923, and rebuilt in 2007.
But given its connections with football, particularly the Football Association (FA), as well as rock concerts, if its turf and seats could talk, Wembley Stadium clearly has stories to tell spanning over 90 years.
A Brief History of the Structure
When Wembley was first constructed, it was built in just under a year at the cost of 750,000 pounds. The process involved digging out 250,000 tons of clay, the stands and terraces constructed with 25,000 tons of concrete and 600 tons of steel rods were used to reinforce everything.
When it was finished, its ‘twin towers’ become one of the best-known symbols associated with UK football, let alone the sporting world in general. In 2007, however, the rebuild did not include those towers, and understandably, millions had to simply tuck away the memory of those towers in their minds. Why weren’t the towers included? The simple answer is that the new site for Wembley is different to that of the old, and the towers would have been in the middle of the new pitch.
Of course, the English Heritage group fought the new plans, wanting to preserve the towers, but once the English Heritage backed out of their objections, there was a proposal that the towers be moved to a rugby museum. But sadly, that didn’t happen.
Here are some highlighted events marking the long march of history of Wembley:
- The first football match ever at Wembley occurred on the 28th of April in 1923. So in just one week, the stadium will mark 94 years since that first match.
- A year later, international football made its debut, owing to a match between England and Scotland, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Since that match, Wembley has seen 78 FA matches, over 200 England senior internationals, and more!
- In the 1980’s, the glamour of the American NFL graced the Wembley pitch for the first time, and there have been games held ever since.
- On the other end of the event spectrum, Pope John Paul II made a visit in 1982.
- In between the Pope’s visit and American NFL matches, greyhound races, American wrestling, and an Evel Knievel show, among other events, have stunned stadium attendees.
- The old stadium’s last event was the World Cup qualifier on 7 October, 2000, between England and Germany, with over 75,000 spectators watching a stunning 1-0 win in favour of Germany.
- The first event in the new stadium was an under-21’s-friendly event between England and Italy on the 24th of March, ending in a jaw-dropping 3-3 draw.
- In 2012, the Wembley pitch saw the tournaments for the London Olympics.
- On the musical end of things, Wembley has played host to the Live Aid concert in 1985, Queen in ‘86, Michael Jackson in ‘88 and one of the UK’s most well-known bands, the Rolling Stones, in 1990. Bruce Springsteen played here to celebrate Wembley’s 90th back in 2013. And if you have a look at Wembley’s website, you’ll notice that a more recent artist, Adele, is scheduled for four concerts during the summer.
And those are just some of the many, many stories that have shaped Wembley Stadium’s legacy. When there aren’t games or concerts on, you can book a tour of the stadium, and get a look at various parts of the place, from the players’ tunnel, to the England dressing rooms, great photo ops of the pitch, and more. Tours last about 75 minutes, but that’s more than enough time to savour the history of this longstanding icon to both the sport and music worlds.