Iconic Wembley Way demolished ending 46 years of history for fans seeing arch for first time at England matches

IT was part of the fabric of Wembley.

Before the Arch, everybody knew the Twin Towers.

But just as much a part of the experience was the walk along Wembley Way from the Tube station, surrounded by fans and colours.

And, in the distance, rising up, the walkway, officially 'the Olympic Steps'.

Built in 1974, to avoid fans having to plot their way through a long-disused coach park.

Now, just like those towers, the walkway is part of history too, being demolished to create a new approach to the new home of the English game.

But if concrete could talk, what tales it would tell.

Of the millions of fans who threaded beneath it, dreaming of glory, of a day to remember for the rest of their lives.

Some drunk on emotion and adrenaline, on nervous excitement. Others, just drunk. Maybe their memories are not so clear.

Yes, Wembley’s two most famous events took place before the ramps were constructed.

The White Horse Final in 1923, and July 30 1966, Geoff Hurst, Nobby Stiles and Jules Rimet.

Yet there were so many others… cup finals won by West Ham, Southampton, Coventry, Wimbledon and Portsmouth, as well as what is now the 'Big Six'. 

Wembley Way, that led-up to the stadium, in either incarnation, a magnet, drawing them in.

European Cup Finals, with Liverpool, Barcelona – twice – and Bayern Munich lifting 'Ol' Big Ears'.

And so many England memories, good and bad…

Euro 96, when football was 'coming home' for a month, and Kevin Keegan’s reign ending in the toilet after the last game of the old stadium.

Then there was Steve McClaren’s night of brolly-waving disaster and the renaissance that began under Fabio Capello. 

For nearly half a century, even as everything else altered, the walkway was unchanging, a link between the old Wembley and the new.

When it was built, everything was about the stadium at the end of the road. Nothing else mattered.

Now, in truth, you need to have laser vision to even see what you are heading towards. 

The stadium, mighty as it is, seems crowded out by the flats, hotels and shopping options, a constant building site.

And suddenly, that bridge to the past is being demolished, to become history itself by the time England play there again in March.

The march of progress is remorseless and unyielding.

Four lifts and a new series of steps will transport supporters up to the main entry level in future.

But you do not have to be a stick in the mud to sometimes mourn for the familiar which is lost.

After all, 46 is no real age these days…

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