Aug 30 2012 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
hannah bewley wembley zip wire
NO matter how famous the singer or how popular the band, no one who plays at Wembley Stadium can resist starting an electric night of music without shouting the famous phrase, ‘Hello Wembley!’
Our guide, Stevie Pratt, told us this as he introduced us to a new, fast-paced experience at the music and sporting arena – an overhead zip wire – which has been introduced this summer.
He successfully built up the anticipation so that most of the group couldn’t wait to hurtle across the entire length of the venue where great footballers have won trophies for clubs and country and some of the world’s biggest musical acts have performed.
The zip wire has been installed in one corner of the stadium and people can now fly diagonally over the pitch from a height of 230 metres, at speeds of up to 40 miles an hour.
It has already proved popular as more than 2,000 visitors braved the dizzy heights in just one week, each relishing their chance to shout at the top of their voices.
Tours of the stadium have been running for years, but the Wembley Zipwire Experience has added an extra element to the tour which takes in the restaurant, changing rooms and the pitch.
Mr Pratt, who has been doing the tours for two years, said the Olympics – during which the stadium hosted football events – had given the venue a new lease of life and had got everyone excited.
He said: “It was a great atmosphere here when the Olympics were on and everyone who works here loved it. It was great to have something new happening at the stadium.”
Wembley Stadium is the largest in the UK and the second largest in Europe, beaten only by Camp Nou in Barcelona.
As well as being taken through the ‘unlucky’ changing room, which has only hosted one FA cup final winning team, visitors are taken through the tunnels to the side of the famous pitch.
Last week, the stadium hosted the rugby league Challenge Cup final between Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves and the pitch still had the markings from the match and the rugby posts were up.
When American football matches are held once a year the lines are spray painted on and if they do not grow out fast enough the lines are painted green in time for any football match being played.
The stadium holds the prestigious FA cup final each year and, though the tournament started in 1872, it has been played at Wembley almost every year since 1923, when the stadium was first built.
There was, of course, a gap of seven years when the previous arena was demolished in 2000. The new one, costing £798million, opened in 2007.
All of these nuggets of information were soon forgotten as, after the tour, we were strapped up with harnesses and sent to climb up to the highest tier where an assistant was waiting to send us straight back down again, on a journey which lasts only a few seconds.
The rigorous safety checks and sturdy gear were reassuring as I stood looking down over a huge and empty stadium, wondering why I hadn’t appreciated earlier what a long way down it was.
Despite the initial fear, there were only two words I wanted to shout as I went flying down, knowing it was the only chance I would get for the famous – though empty – stadium to hear me.
Unfortunately, ‘Hello Wembley!’ came out as more of a scream.
* The Wembley Zipwire Experience is open until Sunday, September 2. See www.wembleystadium.com/wembley-tours