Ipswich stewards head to Wembley

WHEN England Under-21s run out at Wembley tomorrow for the first competitive match at the new national stadium, among the crowd will be 70 stewards from Ipswich.

WHEN England Under-21s run out at Wembley tomorrow for the first competitive match at the new national stadium, among the crowd will be 70 stewards from Ipswich.

The Tractor Boys have been asked to provide stewards for the new stadium, and up to 80 from the club will be on hand every time Wembley plays host to a big event.

Last weekend a team from Ipswich were at the stadium for the first public event when 60,000 residents from the London Borough of Brent were invited to a charity match as part of a safety check at the stadium.

Among the stewards then was Carl Brame, from Elmcroft Road, Ipswich, who sent us his own pictures from the stadium.

He said: “It's very impressive. Ipswich was asked to provide stewards when it was being completed because the club always used to provide stewards for the old Wembley.

“They asked who was interested and I put my name down. There are about 80 of us from Ipswich on the list and they will use at least 50 for any event at the stadium - providing the club doesn't have an event at the same time.”

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Carl will not be at tomorrow's match at Wembley when 60,000 people are due to see the Under-21 match because he will be on a training day at Portman Road, but he is looking forward to his next visit to the London stadium next month.

He said: “I shall be on duty at the FA Cup final and I'm really looking forward to seeing what Wembley is like with 90,000 people inside.”

The new stadium will be used for concerts as well as major sporting events.

George Michael is due to play the first concert at the new stadium on June 9 and that will be followed by concerts by Muse and a special Concert For Diana to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of the Princess of Wales with Elton John and Duran Duran.

“The number of stewards varies according to the type of event, but I am hoping to work at some of the big events at Wembley during the summer,” Mr Brame said.

He became a steward at Portman Road six years ago and is now a senior member of the team in the Greene King upper tier.

And he enjoys his work so much that when Town are away he is now also a steward at Colchester United's Layer Road ground.

He admits there is quite a difference between the distinctly fourth-division quality of Colchester's ground and the 21st Century grandeur of Wembley.

“Colchester is rather a basic ground - but it will be much better when the club builds its new ground in a couple of years' time,” he said.

Are you going to one of the first events at the new Wembley? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Wembley facts:

The original stadium was opened in 1923. It played host to the 1948 Olympics, 1966 World Cup final, and 1996 European Championship final.

The last match at the old Wembley was Germany's 1-0 defeat of England in September 2000. The last club match there was Ipswich Town's play-off victory against Barnsley in May that year.

The old stadium, including the twin towers, was demolished between September 2002 and March 2003.

The arch, the symbol of the new Wembley, was made in 2003 and pulled into place during 2004. The stadium was due to open with the FA Cup final in 2006.

The roof was completed in 2005 and the first seats installed.

Builders Multiplex had not finished the stadium in time for the FA Cup final in 2006 or the concerts planned for that summer.

The new stadium was finally handed over to its owners, The FA, this month and it was confirmed that this year's FA Cup Final would launch the stadium on May 19.