My Grounds

Friday, 10 November 2017

England National Team - Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium
PO Box 1966

Ground: 6
Date: 25th May 2015
Middlesbrough 0-2 Norwich City
Championship Play-Off Final

My Visit

After a long and difficult 2014/15 Championship campaign, all came down to this one game to determine whether my team Norwich would make an immediate Premier League return or not. We'd gotten this far by finishing 3rd in the league, before dispatching arch-rivals Ipswich 4-2 on aggregate in a tense play-off semi-final, while Middlesbrough had finished 4th and beaten Brentford 5-1 on aggregate.

Frankly, it was a miracle that myself and the rest of the family were able to get tickets for this game at all, as Norwich had decided to only allow season ticket holders to buy and, having not appeared at Wembley since 1985, there was massive demand among our fans for this game (an allocation of 38,888 was nowhere near enough to meet demand, ultimately, so it was unsurprising that the tickets sold out ridiculously quickly).

In any case, my dad was able to get three tickets (for him, me and my sister) and into London we went, excited but also extremely nervous about what the game's final outcome would be: in the two league meetings with Middlesbrough in the 2014/15 season, we had failed to score and conceded five times, so it very much seemed to us as if it was Middlesbrough's to lose. Our confidence wasn't helped by the fact that we accidentally headed to Wembley via the side designated for Middlesbrough fans rather than the side for Norwich fans, but we were at least able to have honest conversations with a few of the Middlesbrough fans along the way.

Eventually, we got into the ground and into our seats by 1pm or so, giving us two hours before kick-off. During this period, I seem to recall there being some games between children representing Blackburn Rovers and AFC Bournemouth, although I cannot recall why this was happening. In any case, there wasn't much to do at this point but wait as the stadium filled up and the atmosphere built up (and also for me to notice that the tannoy announcer was almost incomprehensible.

By the time the match finally got underway, the stadium was pretty much full (the official attendance was 85,656, with both clubs easily selling out their allocations) and I was part of almost 40,000 Norwich fans in a sea of yellow and green.

And then, after the usual ceremonies before a play-off final (national anthem etc.), the game was finally underway and nervousness quickly transformed to elation when Cameron Jerome gave us the lead on 12 minutes, winning the ball off of Daniel Ayala and poking past Dimitrios Konstantopoulos at his near post. Just three minutes later, elation turned to ecstasy as Nathan Redmond finished after an excellent passing move in which almost every Norwich player touched the ball without Middlesbrough getting a touch.

After this brief period of absolute joy and chaos, I don't remember much else about the game other than the nervousness as it got closer and closer to full-time. However, Norwich ultimately had the game under control and ultimately claimed victory without too many issues. However, it wasn't until the full-time whistle that the nerves finally vanished and I could finally just enjoy the celebrations that followed.

The Ground

Wembley Stadium (this is the second one) has a capacity of 90,000 and is used by the England national team, as well as being used for all manner of different cup finals throughout the season in addition to the play-off finals at the end of the season. This season, the ground is also being used by Tottenham Hotspur while improvement works are ongoing at White Hart Lane.

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