Wembley Stadium   

Model size : 580mm x 475mm
Scale : 1:500 

Wembley Model Football StadiumIn a world that has developed such a great a devotion to sport, there are few arenas that can compare with Wembley's. Pele called it 'The church of football'.  I visited the stadium first on a school trip to see Oxford v Cambridge in a university match, but my first real football experience was the 1983 FA Cup Final, a memory that will live with me forever. So when I got a enquiry from a client as to the availability and time scale of such piece it got me thinking. The enquiry was for a focal model for a 40th celebrational dinner on the eve of the 2006 World Cup. The specification would be to build a model re-creating how the stadium looked for the 1966 World Cup Final against West Germany with working flood lights, if possible. Although the time scale was extremely tight, I agreed to build this model retaining ownership for my own collection.

wembley_6_1Wembley, officially known as 'The Empire Stadium' took 300 working days to build. Work started on the 10th January 1922 and was finished in April 1923. The distinctive Twin Towers would become the building's trademark, echoing the exotic domes of palaces on the Indian sub-continent. The stadium was constructed using the relatively new material of ferro-concrete; 25 thousand tons of it. The capacity was 127,000. Over the years the stadium would host all the major football and rugby cup finals and, of course, the 1948 London Olympic Games. The stadium was modernised in 1963 with a much fuller glass and aluminium roof and an electronic scoreboard  added at a cost of £500,000. The capacity was reduced to around 97,000 with these improvements. The main sporting event of the decade was England hosting and winning  the 1966 World Cup. Wembley was the centre piece, staging nine games including all of England's. Over the years Wembley's reputation would grow in stature and the stadium was used to host a wider range of events such as stock car racing, speedway and dog racing, even non-sporting events like Live Aid and rock concerts. In 1990 as a result of the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster, Wembley, as many grounds, became an all-seater stadium. This reduced the capacity to 80,000, but improved safety and, to some extent, comfort.  In 1996 England would host the European Championships and, once again, Wembley would be the centre piece.  England would go on and famously lose to Germany on penalties in the semi-finals. This would prove to be the stadium's final swan song as Wembley fell behind with modern stadia criteria. Being old in design it would prove to costly to modernise. Its farewell fixture was in 2000, against Germany, funnily enough in a World Cup qualifier. Wembley would stand dormant until it was finally demolished in 2002.

The model itself was going to be quite small measuring 580mm x 475mm, it would focus more on the stadium itself and not so much the surrounding areas such as Wembley Way.  The specification for this model was standing terraces behind both ends and seated  areas along both sides complete with the spectators. The design featured two split levels (upper and lower) with a open concourse running underneath the upper level. This format continued all the way around the stadium. The roof design was flat and supported from the underneath.  The stadium incorporated a greyhound track with a ring fence and within that a speedway track. Both can be seen in the model, however, the speedway track can only really be seen behind the goal areas.  The arch was very much the theme that supported the outside of the stadium, with a different variation on the twin towers side. This was to make access and evacuation procedures quicker and easier and provide strong supports. The outcome of this piece was very satisfying because it presented so many challenges and I had very little time to solve them. Just  the fact that there is so much history and nostalgia surrounding this piece, meant it had to represent more than just a model.