Things You Might Not Know About Wembley Stadium

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 8 months ago
Things You Might Not Know About Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium: home to those perennial under-performers known as the England football team. Also known for concerts hosted by Bob Geldof, NFL and the odd rugby match. But did you know these things about the stadium — both in its current and former incarnation?

Photo: David Williams

1. It wasn't always called Wembley

Not only that, it wasn't originally built with football in mind. In 1920 a government backed company was formed to promote trade throughout the British Empire; the decision was to hold a major exhibition in Britain. They bought vacant land in Wembley, decreeing that a sports ground of national importance should be built. At this stage the Football Association got in on the act. When the stadium was built, it was originally named after the exhibition it was for — from the Empire Exhibition came the Empire Stadium.

2. Thorough(?) safety tests

People often go on about health and safety as if it's something new. Well, there were safety tests at the first Wembley Stadium too. These were comprised of about 1,000 men sitting, standing and marching in unison around the stadium. We're not sure how useful these tests were considering about 300,000 people turned up at the infamous 'White Horse' FA Cup final of 1923:

3. A monarch's first radio speech

The official opening of the Empire Stadium took place on 23 April 1924. To mark it, King George V did his first speech broadcast on a brand spanking new piece of technology... radio. So what did the King have to say about the stadium?

There is not in all of England a modern building that can compete with the Empire Stadium in the effect it creates upon the mind of the spectator.

Northala Fields built from the old Wembley's rubble. Photo: David Merrigan

4. Northala Fields

There was an outcry when the old Wembley was torn down in 2002/3, especially as its twin towers were Grade II listed. However, these pieces of rubble didn't end up in the landfill. Instead they were put to good use, creating Northala Fields in nearby Northolt. The fields are conscientious in more than one regard; they line the A40 and the shape of the hills help to muffle the noise of traffic.

5. That instantly recognisable arch

The towers may be gone, but Wembley's arch became iconic overnight. It's viewable across northwest London and beyond. It's 7.4m diameter wide — enough for a Channel Tunnel train to fit through. One to tell a France fan next time they're playing here.

Photo: Tom Steel

6. Time capsule

When building the new stadium, a time capsule was buried under the pitch. Inside are sketches of the Wembley Arch by its architect Norman Foster, 2012 Olympic bid memorabilia... and a chunk of the stadium's demolished twin towers. Those twin towers do get about...

7. Get changed twice

Obviously all major sporting stadiums have two changing rooms, one for each team. However, Wembley decided to (literally) double down on this — each team gets TWO changing rooms. The idea is to cater for extra big teams, but we like the idea of teams using one before the match and the other afterwards. Take a look below at James Corden's parents getting a very up close and personal tour of one of the Jacksonville Jaguars' post-match changing room.

Last Updated 18 January 2017