Wembley Stadium – the promised land of English football.
Whilst Wembley is dubbed England’s national stadium, it is also known for hosting cup semi-finals, finals and most recently – play-offs.
This weekend, League Two Championship teams Huddersfield Town and Nottingham Forest, as well as Mansfield Town and Port Vale, earned a chance to play at the Home of Football for their chance at promotion.
And for Forest and Vale it’s the first time at the new Wembley since opening in 2007.
The original Wembley Stadium, which has hosted countless historic games, concerts and other events to achieve iconic status, was closed in October 2000 and then demolished between 2002 and 2003.
The Tricky Trees have not been to Wembley since 1992, when they met Manchester United in the League Cup final.
Vale’s last trip came a year after Forest’s and they have only played at Wembley twice in their 115-year history – both in the same week in 1993.
The Stoke side won the Football League Trophy in 2001 but as there was no Wembley it was played at the Millennium Stadium like all finals at the time.
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Shockingly, however, there are still teams in the top two tiers of England who are still awaiting a trip to play under the famous London Arch, 15 years after it was built.
These are the three teams still waiting to earn a walk down the new Wembley path…
Champion side and former Premier League champions Blackburn Rovers have yet to visit the new Wembley.
The Lancashire side last earned a visit to the National Stadium for the League Cup final in 2001/2002.
But this too was played at the Millennium Stadium while Wembley was being renovated.
Their last visit to old Wembley was in 1992 for the Football League Second Division play-off final and after being close this year their 30-year wait continues.
The former top flight was a red-hot contender for promotion earlier in the season – and a potential play-off final at Wembley.
However, a sharp slump in form in the second half of the season saw them miss out on coveted play-off places, finishing in 8th place, six points off a chance of playing for a game at Wembley.
It’s important to point out that Newcastle United have indeed played at the new Wembley – but not as a neutral ground in a grand final.
The Geordies visited the National Stadium when they played Tottenham Hotspur while the North London side played there during the construction of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
However, the Magpies have not played in the cup or play-offs at Wembley since their FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea in April 2000, shortly before the old stadium was demolished.
Newcastle surpassed the need to play in a play-off final at new Wembley as they were promoted as Championship champions in 2017.
But perhaps their new and improved financial strength will push them towards a shot at one of the trophies and a trip to the new Wembley next season…
Bournemouth’s meteoric rise from the second division from 2010 means that next season’s Premier League new boys almost made the play-offs at Wembley.
But instead, any promotion for the Cherries never required them to go through it, meaning they didn’t get a chance to play at the new Wembley.
Of course, like Newcastle, Bournemouth played there when the stadium was their home ground when they faced Spurs.
However, they have yet to play there as it is a neutral venue.
For a time toward the end of the season, it looked like the Cherries might make the playoffs with the pursuers hot on their heels.
However, Scott Parker’s side trumped and won promotion with a second place finish.
Their last trip to Wembley was in April 1998 against Grimsby Town in the Football League Trophy final.
And their 23-year wait is set to continue for now…
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