I started the “on the road with Tottenham” series originally for away games, but this edition is going to be slightly different as the featured match is our opening Champions League tie against Monaco. On paper it may have been down as a home game, but it definitely wasn’t one as we know it, and for that reason I thought this article would be useful – even if 85,000 other Spurs fans experienced it too.
Wembley is renowned for not being the easiest ground to get to and the Monaco game certainly didn’t help remove that impression. Train links to the ground are good, with the option of three different tube stations within a 10-minute walk. However... as many experienced on this occasion, the stations don’t hold up too well with 85,000 people trying to access them.
I’ve been lucky enough to watch Spurs at Wembley six times in the last eight years, but also unlucky enough to have experienced Wembley Park Station post-match on each of those occasions. With those experiences in mind, and added to the fact it was a night game, we decided to drive to this one – it was a much more pleasant experience than many believe it to be.
There was some traffic as we approached the ground, but the 45-mile journey from Essex took about an hour and a half. Parking can be an issue around Wembley, for both availability and price, but we used an online site where people list their driveways for people to rent – a nice little earner if you live in the vicinity of a stadium like Wembley. After the game it was about a 20-minute walk to the car and from there a relatively easy journey home, walking through the door about 11:30pm, an hour and a half after the full-time whistle.
Outside the ground
With the sheer number of fans attending it was always going to be a special occasion and I thought the club organised it all really well. I don't need to reiterate that Wembley isn't our usual home ground, but I thought everyone involved done a really good job to make us feel as much at home as we could, from the graphics in the changing rooms to the banners around the grounds, it was all really nice. A special mention here to the supporters trust who I'm sure worked tirelessly to make this happen.
In my past experiences of going to Wembley, I have only used Wembley Way to access the stadium but for this game we came in from the opposite side and was really impressed with the fan area on the west side of the stadium, which included quirky food and drink stands and live music from members of the Spurs foundation.
Food & Drink
As well as the travel, another negative associated with Wembley is the price of food and drink inside the stadium. There was plenty on offer to eat, including the traditional choices like a pie or chicken & chips, but also some more niche options like pick & mix and popcorn stalls – modern football, eh? Reading these articles you will quickly learn how much I love pies at football grounds, but on this occasion, I went for the chicken & chips which cost £5.80, quite steep considering the chicken is just three small strips.
Now on to the drink. Many believe that the worst part of UEFA is the corruption, but they are wrong. The worst part of UEFA is prohibiting alcohol at Champions League matches, which is even stranger when you consider that Heineken are one of the competition's biggest sponsors. Because of this, I can't really comment on the drink options available in the ground, but for those that like me enjoy a beer before football, your best bet is to grab a can or two from one of the many shops on the roads around the ground and taking in the atmosphere outside.
85,000 home fans in one football stadium has the potential to be something special anywhere in the world, and I think we saw sparks of that throughout the game with the atmosphere being really good in spells.
Hearing the Champions League anthem back at Spurs (well, sort of at Spurs) was glorious and the noise that followed was truly deafening – an experience I won’t forget for a while.
Obviously we didn’t have the best of starts on the pitch and I think that transferred into the stands for the first part of the game. We flirted throughout the game with the special atmosphere many craved pre-match, and for the spell following Toby's goal that level was almost reached. The whole ground really got behind the team and nearly took the roof off, it's just a shame half time then come at a time when both the fans and players had both really picked it up.
One positive however that come with half time was the introduction and return of Mousa Dembele. It's no coincidence we were a much better side with him on the pitch. In conclusion I would say the atmosphere was similar to White Hart Lane, in that it was really good when we were on top but it did have some quiet patches when we were not. It's important we make Wembley feel as much as our home as we can, and we did see the potential of what could happen if everyone collectively got behind the team, which is vital going forward if we want to have a successful Champions League campaign here at Wembley.
Verdict – 7/10
Watching Spurs at Wembley is always a thing of beauty and I very much enjoyed my first experience of the ground as our temporary home. For those that had difficulties getting to/from the ground, I would definitely recommend considering driving for the coming games, and particularly looking at parking away from the crowds in the Harrow Road area.
Although the game and result wasn’t ideal, we know this team has the potential to really kick on in the games to come and hopefully together we can make this campaign one to really remember.
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