Wednesday, May 21, 1975

Wembley Stadium (Old)

England 2 Wales 2 - Home International Championship

Wembley is an area of northwest London, England, and part of the London Borough of Brent. Wembley formed a separate civil parish from 1894 and was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1937. In 1965, the area merged with the Municipal Borough of Willesden to create the London Borough of Brent, and has since formed part of Greater London. Wembley is derived from the Old English proper name "Wemba" and the Old English "Lea" for meadow or clearing. There was a mill on Wembley Hill by 1673. In 1837, the London and Birmingham Railway (now part of the West Coast Main Line) was opened from London Euston through Wembley to Hemel Hempstead, and completed to Birmingham the following year. The changing names of the local station demonstrated the increasing importance of the 'Wembley' name. 'Sudbury' station opened in 1845, renamed as 'Sudbury and Wembley' in 1882, renamed as 'Wembley for Sudbury' in 1910, renamed as 'Wembley Central' in 1948, at the time of the Olympic Games.

The first turf at Wembley Stadium was cut by King George V, and it was first opened to the public on 28 April 1923. First known as the British Empire Exhibition Stadium or simply Empire Stadium, it was built by Sir Robert McAlpine for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924 (extended to 1925). The stadium cost £750,000, and was constructed on the site of an earlier folly called Watkin's Tower. The architects were Sir John Simpson and Maxwell Ayrton and the Head Engineer Sir Owen Williams. It was originally intended to demolish the stadium at the end of the Exhibition, but it was saved at the suggestion of Sir James Stevenson, a Scot who was chairman of the organising committee for the Empire Exhibition.

Having witnessed Tottenham Hotspur avoid relegation to the 2nd tier of English football with a victory in the last match of the season, I was not ready to let the 1974/75 season end. England v Wales in the Home International Championship was targeted and a first visit to the iconic Wembley Stadium was planned. My journey from Harlow by train was extended by catching a direct Metropolitan Line train from Liverpool Street to Wembley Park. As the train sped through Neasden, a first glimpse of the Twin Towers was followed by my first walk up Wembley Way.

Although impressed with the magnificent stadium, even then I felt it was looking rather tired and in need of some tlc. It had of course been the venue for so many amazing high profile sporting events, not least the World Cup Final in 1966. A reasonably entertaining match saw England and Wales cancel each other out with a 2-2 draw. David Johnson made a memorable debut, scoring both of England's goals including an eighty-fifth minute equaliser that stole victory from a spirited Welsh team. Johnson gave England an eighth minute lead, but Wales were rewarded for their persistence with two goals ten minutes into the second-half. The first was scored by John Toshack, who then laid on a second for Arfon Griffiths. Aston Villa's Brian Little, sent on as a substitute in the seventieth minute, found Johnson with a centre from which he headed the goal that ended Welsh hopes of a first ever win at Wembley. South African Colin Viljoen, Johnson's Ipswich team-mate, made his second and final appearance for England.

Attendance: 53,000
Programme: 15p


Subsequent visits to Wembley Stadium (Old)

09/08/1975 - Derby County 2 West Ham United 0 - FA Charity Shield - Attendance: 59,000
07/06/1975 - England Schools 0 Scotland Schools 1 - Schools' International - Attendance: tbc
11/05/1976 - England 4 Northern Ireland 0 - Home International Championship - Attendance: 48,000
27/05/1978 - England Schools 3 Scotland Schools 0 - Schools' International - Attendance: tbc
19/05/1979 - Stafford Rangers 2 Kettering Town 0 - FA Trophy Final - Attendance: 32,000
22/11/1979 - England 2 Bulgaria 0 - UEFA European Championships - Attendance: 71,491
13/05/1980 - England 2 Argentina 0 Friendly - Attendance: 92,000
17/05/1980 - Dagenham 0 Mossley 2 - FA Trophy Final - Attendance: 26,000
07/06/1980 - England Schools 4 Scotland Schools 5 - Schools' International - Attendance: tbc
09/05/1981 - Manchester City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1 - FA Cup Final - Attendance: 100,000
14/05/1981 - Manchester City 2 Tottenham Hotspur 3  (AET) - FA Cup Final Replay - Attendance: 96,000
16/05/1981 - Bishop's Stortford 1 Sutton United 0 - FA Trophy Final - Attendance: 22,578
22/08/1981 - Aston Villa 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2 - FA Charity Shield - Attendance: 92,500
13/03/1982 - Liverpool 3 Tottenham Hotspur 1 (AET) - Football League Cup Final: 100,000
22/05/1982 - Queens Park Rangers 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1 (AET) - FA Cup Final - Attendance: 100,000
27/05/1982 - Queens Park Rangers 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 - FA Cup Final - Attendance: 92,000
21/08/1982 - Liverpool 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0 - FA Charity Shield - Attendance: 82,500
01/06/1985 - Brentford 1 Wigan Athletic 3 - Football League Trophy Final - Attendance: 39,897
24/05/1986 - Bristol City 3 Bolton Wanderers 0 - Football League Trophy Final - Attendance: 54,000
16/05/1987 - Coventry City 3 Tottenham Hotspur 2 (AET) - FA Cup Final - Attendance: 98,000
24/05/1987 - Mansfield Town 1Bristol City 1 (AET Mansfield Town won 5-4 pens) - Football League Trophy Final - Attendance: 58,586
23/03/1988 - England 2 Netherlands 2 - Friendly - Attendance:74,590
07/05/1988 - Enfield 0 Telford 0 - FA Trophy Final - Attendance: 20,061
29/05/1988 - Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Burnley 0 - Football League Trophy Final - Attendance: 80,841
13/08/1988 - Arsenal 4 Tottenham Hotspur 0 - Wembley International Tournament - Attendance:27,369
14/08/1988 - AC Milan 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1 - Wembley International Tournament - Attendance: tbc
03/06/1989 - England 3 Poland 0 - World Cup Qualifying - Attendance: 69,203
14/04/1991 - Arsenal 1 Tottenham Hotspur 3 - FA Cup Semi-Final - Attendance: 77,893
18/04/1991 - Nottingham Forest 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2  (AET) - FA Cup Final: 80,000
10/08/1991 - Arsenal 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0 - FA Charity Shield - Attendance: 65,483
04/04/1993 - Arsenal 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0 - FA Cup Semi-Final - Attendance: 76,263
21/03/1999 - Leicester City 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1 - Football League Cup Final - Attendance: 77,892

Total visits to this venue = 33

1 comment:

Uncle Joe said...

I believe there were still remnants of Watkins tower even after the stadium was built. The 'folly' was in all seriousness an attempt to rival the Eiffel Tower and the base structure remained for some time. I never saw any evidence of it but did see some of the old buildings built for the 1924 exhibition which survived until the new buildings and shopping centre appeared - stone lions and sphinx figures. A contemporary of Watkin was busy constructing the Metropolitan Line and the track gauge was designed so that trains could operate in France. Even today, the Met Line has a wider gauge than all other underground lines and no other trains can travel on it. The little Wembley station out of Paddington has changed names many times. It was really a halt rather than a proper station and one of its many names was Wembley Complex. Apart from rock concerts, I once went to the old Wembley with Brian Hayes for greyhound racing ( agreat hoppy of Mr Hayes). We sat in the Royal Box which was empty and no one stopped us!!