The roar of the Wembley crowd

86,655 people

The weekend that’s just passed was a tremendous one for sports fans.

There was the semi-final of the rugby world cup in Paris which saw England beat France 14-9 in a nail-biting finish.

I caught that crucial bit live on TV.

Then there was England’s qualifying game in the Euro 2008 football championship at Wembley stadium where they beat Estonia 3-0.

I was there for the whole match.

As I’d never been to Wembley stadium before, not even the old Wembley before the current new high-tech venue opened a few months ago, a visit to the hallowed turf of English football would be something very special.

I was fortunate to be invited by Tom Lodge of Inferno PR on behalf of Microsoft UK, one of the founding partners of the new Wembley stadium. (I got to know more Inferno folk in September when I spoke at their event on business blogging in the UK.)

So I met up with Tom; Darren Strange, the senior UK product manager for Office 2007; Louie St Clair, business audience PR manager at Microsoft UK; freelance tech journalist Tim Anderson; and Sam Sethi, who’s doing interesting things with Blognation.

Now to the match. Or rather, the Wembley experience.

13102007919 We had terrific seats – Row 1, right on the front row by the pitch just a bit along from the centre line near the tunnel where the players emerge.

Imagine – first ever visit to Wembley and the best seats in the house! The view of the whole pitch – and the rich smell of the grass – and the panorama of it all. Unbeatable.

If you’re an old hand at going to football matches, you know exactly what it’s like being there.

It’s the crowd that really makes it.

When I emerged into the stadium itself just before kick-off and took in the vista in front of me of thousands and thousands of people sitting in rows and banked tiers up to the sky, I just thought “Wow!”

The match itself wasn’t a lot to write home about, frankly, although it was still very good. I twittered a prediction early on Saturday that England would win 2-1. Well, I got the number of goals right at least.

I took quite a few photos with my Nokia N73, all now on Flickr, which might give you a sense of the crowd atmosphere and experience.

To accompany that, take a listen to the sounds of the crowd – I had my iRiver IFP-790 with me and recorded a few minutes of what 86,655 people sound like especially when they yell and cheer in unison.

The audio recording below includes the moment when Wayne Rooney scored England’s second goal. Talk about audio overload!

(Tech note for those interested. Audio recorded as mono MP3 @ 64kbps and 44.1Khz. Total length 9 minutes. File imported into Adobe Audition 2, two segments snipped for this 2½-minute podcast. Saved as WAV uncompressed audio then run though Levelator, the podcaster’s essential editing tool. Final output exported as mono MP3 @ 128kbps and 44.1Khz.)

In all, we had a blast on Saturday. From our position right on the front row, one way of looking at it is as if you’re watching the match on a gigantic high-definition television with an amazing sound system (credit to Sam for that description).

A good approximation. But nothing beats actually being there. Nothing.

[Later] Darren has a great post, recounting much of the conversations we all had at Wembley. Not much about football but a lot about social media.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Stuart Mudie

    “When I emerged into the stadium itself just before kick-off and took in the vista in front of me…”

    I know you said you were invited by Microsoft, Neville, but I always thought you were above this sort of subliminal advertising :-)

  2. neville

    Heh! Nice one, Stuart.

    ‘Vista’ seems the best word to describe it, not ‘view.’ Subliminally :)

    Maybe that’s why Microsoft chose Vista!

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