Sunday, 13 July 2008

Wembley





During a break from a lengthy meeting on Thursday, I was shown around the new national football stadium at Wembley. This was quite a thrill, as Wembley has always been a Mecca for soccer fans. I grew up with the game, since my father lived and breathed it. In later life he became president of the local football club and wrote its history, a massive tome ten years in the making, which was published months before he died. He took me to the old Wembley stadium to watch the FA Cup final in 1969 – but new Wembley could hardly be more different from its majestic but antiquated predecessor. I was enormously impressed by the design and the facilities – truly state of the art.

But Wembley isn’t just about football – all sorts of events are staged there, including major events in other sports, and major concerts. The vision of Wembley is to be the greatest stadium in the world, and I’d be surprised if there are many sports or concert arenas that are remotely as impressive. I can strongly recommend the stadium tour.

Football features here and there in my fiction .There are various passing references to the game in the Harry Devlin books and in a short story called ‘Never Walk Alone’ he investigates a mystery associated with Liverpool Football Club; oddly, not long after I wrote the story, I started undertaking legal work for the club, but I don’t think it was a matter of cause and effect.

Influenced by my father’s diligent researches into the history of football grounds, I once wrote a story called ‘Penalty’ which explores a dark secret from the past of a football club that has fallen on hard times. I enjoyed writing the story and one day I hope it will reappear in some magazine or anthology. It’s certainly one of my personal favourites.

A few other writers have given their mysteries a football background, although relatively few have achieved major success. But one of the more interesting, albeit a period piece, seems to be The Arsenal Stadium Mystery. The book by Leonard Gribble was published in 1939 and quickly turned into a film that has, it seems, an enduring appeal. I’ve neither read the book nor seen the film, but the latter is readily and cheaply available on DVD, so I’m planning to get hold of a copy soon.

4 comments:

Philip said...

Thank you for the alert to that film, Martin. I must seek it out, for I have just read that the match in the film is footage of an actual match between the Gunners and Brentford -- the latter being the team I used to go to see with my father when I was a lad in the 1950s. It seems that the director also gave Arsenal players and the manager roles in the film. The great Leslie Banks stars, very solid cast, so all in all I'd say there is more than just curiosity value in this one.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Philip - if you get to see it in the near future, let me know what you think of it.

Greg said...

Hi Martin,

Good news! The book is now available too......I've just republished it.
Take a look at my website at www.gcrbooks.co.uk
It's a good read and, although I may be biased, I believe it's better than the film.

Rgds

Greg

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for letting me know, Greg. Very enterprising of you.