With tickets purchased to see my beloved Spurs play Burnley in the bag, I laced up my Converse and was ready to see what the matchday experience at Wembley following Spurs was like in this transitional season away from White Hart Lane, if you can call it that.
In this article, I’ll be listing the factors which I consider to be important on match day and will comment on how I the club dealt with them at their temporary home for this season.
With Wembley being the national stadium for a lot of high-profile sports and music events throughout the year, actually getting to the stadium needs to be as easy as possible for the hundreds of thousands of visitors. Getting there via the tube is always an option, given how easy and cheap it is to get there, but there may be other people, such as myself, who prefer to drive and not have to worry about leaving the game early to beat the crowds.
Around the outisde of the stadium, there is a huge car park which is officially run by Wembley Stadium itself and has significant security guarding the cars parked there on a match day. However, with the event organisers asking for £50 to park your car there for the game, there are many other cheaper alternatives. I eventually found a car park space which was a 10 minute walk from the stadium and cost me £20 through parking website http://www.justpark.com – through this website, I found multiple parking spaces available within a 15 minute walk of the stadium which you can pre-pay for and just turn up on the day at any given time.
2) Eating and Drinking
The London Designer Outlet offers many restaurants and bars for you to grab something to eat and drink before you head in to the stadium. TGI Fridays, Prezzo, Nando’s and more – you will not go hungry or thirsty if you come here. It is situated directly outside the front of the stadium – just head up Wembley Way and it is on the right hand side, behind the concert arena. There are also many bars and eateries available to go in to as you walk along the surrounding areas heading up to Wembley – with pubs such as The Torch offering your normal selection of beers and more – situated a 3min walk from Wembley Park tube station.
Once inside the ground, there are huge concourses all around the inside of the stadium selling alcohol, burgers, chips and much more for the duration of the game. I bought a burger and chips with a bottle of coke and it set me back £13, so be prepared to spend quite a bit of money if you’re coming with a family or you fancy a half time beer and burger.
3) Getting In
With the official attendance being announced at just under 70,000 Sunday, I found getting in to the stadium hassle free and quick, but with the necessary security measures being followed. The club (and Wembley Stadium itself) recommend that you leave roughly 45 mins – 1hr before kick off free to get inside the ground, leaving necessary time for checks and searches to take place. Many entrances grant access via barcode scanners in which you place your ticket into the machine and it lets you in electronically – a system which was quick and easy and worked very well. From start to finish, me and the 3 people I went to the game with queued up and got to our seats within 15 minutes from start to finish. No more old fashioned White Hart Lane turn-styles.
4) Spurs Merchandise and Branding
Although Spurs are the exclusive tenants of the stadium this year, the first thing you notice is the Mobile Network provider EE’s branding around the outside of the stadium, given their partnership deal they signed with Wembley a couple of years ago. However, i’ve got to say that the club have done a fantastic job in the effort they have put in to making the stadium feel like “home” for this season. Outside of Wembley Arena – the music venue – the club have set up a “Spurs Fan Zone” – a cordoned off area in which ticket holders for the game can get together, have a drink and a sing-song and much more. From my own experience of the day, this looked to be a great idea and with the sun shining, there was a really good atmosphere amongst fans outside the stadium before kick-off.
In regards to merchandise, the club have ensured that there are plenty of places to buy what you want, should you wish to. The main Wembley Stadium store, which is located 1 level under the Bobby Moore entrance of the stadium and usually sells England/Wembley official merchandise turns in to the main Spurs store on match day and has replica shirts and much more in their thousands. Be prepared to queue though – there was a 10 min queue just to get in to the store when I got there and a further 15 minute wait to buy your goods at the till. However, should queueing not be for you, then the club have dotted multiple different merchandise stands throughout the stadium and outside the ground as well – with one also being set up inside the “Spurs Fan Zone” I mentioned earlier.
5) The atmosphere and experience during the game.
White Hart Lane, our famous old ground, was renowned for being one of the most intimidating sporting stadiums in Europe, given how close the fans were to the pitch, the steep stands and much more. Although Wembley is almost 3x the size of our old ground, I found the atmosphere to be excellent – it is clear that the club and the fans have put a lot of thought in to carrying over as much of the old WHL atmosphere into Wembley as possible and it shows, with the majority of the noisier fans sitting in blocks 126 – 133 – much like it was in the Paxton Road end. The atmosphere was good throughout (apart from when Burnley scored a 92nd minute equaliser) and any doubts about the fans being drowned out by the monsterously high roof and stands were quickly dashed.
Overall, I was very, very impressed with the way the club have managed to negotiate the transition between old and new for this season. Although there is an undeniable feeling that Wembley isn’t White Hart Lane, I think a lot of fans knew this was going to be the case and are making the most of what is a unique situation and experience before we go back “home” next year. It definitely didn’t strike me as though the club are in a West Ham type scenario, where the club have moved and everything feels different.
I am happy to answer any other questions you may have if you are planning on visiting Wembley this year to watch the team play – just drop me a message on twitter @EastTerrace00, send me an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on this article.