On the 9th August 2012 the Japanese womens football team and the USA womens soccer team (you and I know both know it’s really called football and not soccer, but ‘m gonna let it go on this occasion) will come head to head at Wembley Stadium for the mother (no pun intended) for all games.  At stake will be the London 2012 Olympic women’s football tournament gold medals.  Although both already guaranteed a medal colour, there’s only one colour that each team will want to be taking home.

The Olympic Semi Finals:

Getting to the Olympic final hasnt been easy for either team.  At Old Trafford up in Manchester, the USA just (and I mean JUST) edged past Canada (conquerors of team GB) in their semi final, scoring in the last minute of extra time to win 4-3 in a truly epic match which included some stunning strikes, a penalty, a goal direct from a corner and controversial equaliser for the USA to make it 3-3.  Kudos to both teams on possibly the best match of the tournament to date.

I was lucky enough to be at Wembley to watch the other semi final between the Japanese and French womens Olympic football teams.  I might have spoilt it for you a bit by telling you that Japan have already made the final, but that’s not the half of it.  I’m still totally and utterly perplexed as to how they made it.

London 2012 Olympic womens football semi final at Wembley

Treated by the mrs, she and I took up our seats in block K of the new Wembley having walked down a very colourful and vibrant Wembley way expecting (and wanting) and fairly comfortable Japanese win.  I’m no authority of womens footy, but I know that Japan feature heavily in most major competitions, whereas I had heard little of the French side.  In truth the French side appeared to me to be far superior.  The passed the ball better, used the width of the pitch to greater effect and had more efforts on goal than their Japanese counterparts.  But, in the end after 94 minutes, after 3 goals, rattled woodwork, a missed penalty and some great saves, the ref blew the full time whistle and Japan left the field as 2-1 winners, they’re headed for the gold medal match.  Whilst I felt for the French girls and they collapse into little heaps at the sound of the whilst, it was the result both I and Esther had wanted … we both still feel aggrieved at Thiery Henry’s actions in denying Ireland a spot in the last world cup.

This was my first visit to the new Wembley and I have to say I was mightily impressed.  Our view was good and there was lots of leg room.  There are a few things though that I should probably point out to those of you attending the Olympic tournament final or future events at the stadium.  Have fun!

Entry to the stadium:

  • You scan yourself into the stadium using the automated turnstyles and the bar codes on your ticket, but before doing so you need to empty your pockets entirely and put the contents into a clear plastic bag (provided) – much like you do with liquids at an aiport.
  • Once inside expect a full pat down
  • If you are carrying a bag this will also be searched
  • There are both esculators and stairs up to the stands, but we found that people were only let onto the esculators sporadically by the stewards.  6 flights of stairs later and we were both knackered.  Not an easy climb with young children I would imagine.
  • Lifts are provided for wheelchair accessibility

Food and Drink:

  • You may only take minimal amounts of food into the stadium.  The term ‘minimal’ is guvourned by the stewards on the various turnstyles.
  • No alcohol may be taken into the stadium
  • No cans may be taken into the stadium
  • Plastic bottles will have their lids removed on entry to the stadium …
  • Once inside the stadium, expect footbal and drink to be expensive.
    • Fish and chips – £8.10
    • Meat pie – £5
    • Bottle of water – £1.60

Once in your seat:

  • The seats all have un-obstructed views, but I would say that in the top tier you are a long way from the action.  I noticed that this led to a few of the younger attendee’s losing interest pretty quickly as they probably felt quite detached from what was happening on the pitch.

Leaving the Stadium:

  • Getting back up Wembley way to the underground station can be a long process.  Expect it to take at least 30 minutes.  The police and stewards will at regular intervals form a line to stop you progressing any further – this is so that the train platforms do not become over crowded and dangerous.