Almost 64-years have elapsed since the Olympic Flame was lit at Wembley Stadium to mark the commencement of the XIV Olympiad in London in 1948. Today Wembley Stadium welcomed the Torch once more and brought Wembley’s part in the Olympic Games full circle.
Staff from the FA Group joined local schools and members of the public to witness this historic event as the Torch came to the London Borough of Brent. As one of the world’s most iconic landmarks Wembley Stadium garnered a lot of interest and coverage from the world’s media.
The torch bearer on the Wembley Stadium leg of the relay needed no introduction, former England legend and 1966 World Cup winner, Gordon Banks. The former Leicester City and Stoke City stopper took the torch from in front of Wembley Stadium before descending down the Pedway and along Olympic Way.
Speaking after his leg of the relay, Banks spoke of his immense pride at playing his part in such a historical moment. “It was fantastic, it really was,” enthused Banks. “Coming up Wembley Way brought back a lot of memories for me. It’ll be terrific [the venue]. I can’t believe the interest, the publicity and it can only be a good thing,” he continued.
“Seeing all the fans and the children here today, they will now watch these Games on TV and say ‘I want to do that!’ and it’s a terrific thing for this country.”
Prior to this, the torch arrived from South Way before being brought round to the front of the Stadium by former Olympic Badminton silver medallist (at Athens 2004), Nathan Robertson. Robertson posed for photos in front of Wembley Arena, the venue which will house the badminton during the Games.
There were a number of dignitaries on hand to represent The FA Group, Wembley Stadium and Wembley City. From The FA was General Secretary, Alex Horne; from WNSL was Chairman, Melvin Benn and Managing Director Roger Maslin, as well as Chief Executive Officer of Wembley City, Maxwell James.
The pride felt by all who witnessed the Torch at Wembley Stadium was emphasised by WNSL Chairman, Melvin Benn. “It’s been a wonderful day,” Benn said. “Having all the staff out to support and welcome the torch. It was also great to have the 1948 Torch on display too.
“It was brilliant to have Gordon here to carry it. Surely, there is no better man to do it, guaranteed not to drop it!”
The historical importance of Wembley Stadium as an Olympic venue was highlighted by the appearance of the 1948 Olympic torch. Carried by the Mayor of Brent, Michael Adeyeye, it emphasised how Wembley Stadium is woven in the fabric of Olympic history and fast forward to today the excitement is rising about the potential success of Team GB in the football.
Wembley Stadium will host nine matches during the Olympic period – six men’s matches and three women’s matches – including the gold medal matches for both men’s and women’s. Tickets are still available for a select number of the fixtures at Wembley and with the women’s matches in a position to break a world record; it could be yet another chance to be part of history at Wembley Stadium.
Tickets will be on sale at www.tickets.london2012.com until midnight of the day before the match and from the Wembley box office on the day of the match.