Trecker’s Travels, Day Two: Hello Wembley!

May 3rd, 2013

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Photo: Jamie Trecker / FOX Soccer

By Jamie Trecker

LONDON, ENGLAND

Wembley Stadium will turn seven later on this year. For a toddler, it’s getting quite a workout. Over the next several weeks, London’s iconic stadium will host the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League finals and then the Football League promotion playoffs – the richest game in all of soccer.

On Thursday, we were invited to an FA program shoot (you’ll see it on May 25) that will show off some of the stadium’s history and legacy. One of the most surprising things about it is how vibrant a venue it is outside of game days. During our taping, Wembley was crawling with tours, so many that the guides had to call in reinforcements and extend hours. It should come as no surprise that many of these visitors spoke German.

One thing that those visitors got to see – and did not know it – was the Champions League trophy itself. It’s kept in a silver gig crate up in the FA’s office on the fourth floor, and two young men carry it down to you. As we had the trophy outside, next to Bobby Moore’s statue, for security purposes we asked the tour group leaders to tell the visitors it was a replica. But, I can tell you now, that if you were a visitor between 2:30 and 3:30 on Thursday, you saw the real thing. Special congratulations to the enterprising little boy who went up and touched it.

The stadium itself is glorious – an enormous bowl with superb sightlines and a huge sense of history. This new Wembley replaced an older Wembley Stadium that was first built in 1923. The twin towers at one point held nearly 130,000 people and for many it was the European stadium, the beating heart of football itself. New Wembley lacks the pizazz but makes up for it with a massive arc that curls over the arena, visible for miles around. From Wembley Park tube stop, at the head of the Royal Route, that massive arch seems to lift the stadium up, a handle on a big kettle, making it seem to float in the air.

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Photo: Jamie Trecker / FOX Soccer

It must be said, however, that visiting England’s dressing room feels like a bit of gyp to those of us over-weaned on American excess. For one thing, there’s no indication at all that you’re actually sitting in England’s dressing room. There are no logos, no little frills on the walls or carpets, and everything is trimmed in the clean lines of dark walnut and white Armitage Shanks porcelain. Where’s the garish colors found in NBA locker rooms? Where are the pleather-coated love seats? It all seems so… practical. This wouldn’t do at all in America.

Reminder, this month you get to tell me where to go. I’ve already been to Milton Keynes, so you can leave “Hell” off the itinerary. Simply drop us a note in the comments section, tweet me at @JamieTreckerFOX or send a missive to @FOXSoccer using the #heytrecker hashtag. It’s all courtesy of the Samsung Galaxy 4 phone, which was used to write this column.

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