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  Monday, 2 October, 2000, 00:07 GMT 01:07 UK
John Motson
Motty: "The old lady will be sadly missed."
Few know the road to Wembley better than the BBC's John Motson. The Match of the Day commentator relives his favourite memories as a fan and commentator with BBC Sport Online's Peter Sanderson.

Ever since Wembley was built in 1923 it has been the Mecca of world football.

And there's no doubt the old lady deserves a break after 77 years of impeccable service as the home of the English game.

Wembley took its first tentative step towards immortality in the famous white horse final of 1923 when Bolton and West Ham Utd slugged it out for FA Cup glory in an arena which could have been filled twice over.


It's surprising just how quickly the old sentimentality is forgotten when you see the sparkling new facilities on offer
John Motson

Everyone has their own special abiding memory of the world's most famous stadium whether it be when the World Cup came home to tumultuous applause in 1966 or when their own particular team had the honour of playing on the hallowed turf.

Although it will be sad to see the FA Cup played elsewhere, it seems only fair that the garden of English football is revamped to help provide a worthy setting for the next time the English rose blooms.

As the years have gone by, it has become most famous for hosting two different events. Firstly, it has emerged as the spiritual home of the FA Cup final and secondly as the home of the English national team.

No-one would even try to pretend that the current Wembley isn't showing signs of wear and tear. Certainly the time is right for a new, more modern looking stadia to compete with the impressive pieces of architecture which now adorn world football.

Great stadium

But for all its problems, there is still a real aura about the place as you walk down Wembley Way and up the steps into the great stadium.

My first memory of the stadium was as a young boy, brimming with enthusiasm about the game, when my father took me to see the FA Amateur Cup final between Bishop Auckland and Wycombe Wanderers.

From a personal point of view, one of my favourite memories of Wembley was the 1987 FA Cup final between Spurs and Coventry City.

I was fortunate enough to commentate on that game and I felt that from a footballing perspective, that was one of the most memorable cup games of the late 20th century.

Another fantastic memory for me was the semi-final clash between Manchester United and Oldham Athletic in 1994 when the Latics were within two minutes of a place in the FA Cup final.


For all its problems, there is still a real aura about the place as you walk down Wembley Way
John Motson

But in typically rampant fashion, United turned up the heat with Mark Hughes scoring in spectacular fashion, to allow Alex Ferguson's men to go on and achieve the double.

One thing I do think is fitting, is the fact that the current stadium's swansong is the clash between England and Germany.

I hope it lives up to its billing because I think it's a really fitting finale. It would be a real shame if they decided to replay the last rites with another clash after the 1966 World Cup final replay on 7 October.

For those fans who fear the stadium will lose it's intimacy after the redevelopment, I think it's important that I point out one thing.

It's surprising just how quickly the old sentimentality is forgotten when you see the sparkling new facilities on offer.

Having chatted to some Derby fans at Pride Park, they seemed quite content with their new ground. The Baseball Ground will always hold a special place in all their hearts if they ever want to wallow in the past glories.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's John Motson
looks back at Wembley's illustrious history
BBC Sport's John Motson
"I remember the thrill of going to Wembley for the first time, going back to school and saying I'd been there"
BBC Sport's John Motson
"England v Germany is a really fitting way to end at Wembley"
See also:

17 Aug 00 | Match of the Day
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