James Lawton: Wembley will again be fit for heroes

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For some unfathomable reason - surely not a deep-seated disbelief in the need for a great country, homeland of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, to take more than a decade to organise the building of a football stadium - we looked in vain here for the invitation to don a hard hat and inspect the now soaring new Wembley.

For some unfathomable reason - surely not a deep-seated disbelief in the need for a great country, homeland of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, to take more than a decade to organise the building of a football stadium - we looked in vain here for the invitation to don a hard hat and inspect the now soaring new Wembley.

However, a careless turn south on to the North Circular brought a breath-taking reward.

It was indeed the sight of the new stadium with its great arc climbing to the heavens. It brought an astonishing lifting of the spirit, a sense of renewal. And then, perhaps inevitably, a surge of that old anger which came when it was first casually suggested there was no need for a new national stadium, that it would be perfectly fine to take England's matches to any old Premiership ground and Cup finals to Wales.

One regret was that Bill Shankly wasn't riding along. He would have greeted the sight with boyish wonder. Once he was encountered standing amid the rubbish of the old Wembley after the crowd had left. He was asked: "Are you OK, Bill?" "Aye, laddie," he said. "I'm just thinking about the great men who played on that field. I can see them all. I can see Tommy Finney and Stanley Matthews going down the wings. There is no place like this."

He said Wembley was a place fit for heroes. And now, after all these years, maybe it will be again.

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