Fans rejoice in getting ‘Willy Wonka golden tickets’ as supporters return to Wembley for Leicester’s FA Cup semi-final victory over Southampton – a giant step towards audiences returning nationwide
- In the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday, 4,000 fans returned to the grounds for the game
- It was one of three pilot events to kick off fans’ return to football stadiums
- A Leicester City fan described it as grabbing ‘Willy Wonka golden tickets’
- It is currently planned that 21,000 fans will be able to attend the FA Cup final
Shortly before 5:00 p.m., the group that had gathered under the arch of Wembley was invited to make the final ascent.
Tickets and test results in hand, the first of the 4,000 went to the new Olympic Steps and a glimpse of life as it used to be seen in plain sight.
For fans like Luke Beck, 19, that short climb to Wembley marked the end of a year of waiting to see his team again. For fellow supporters across the country, it could be a first step – no, a giant leap – towards their own return.
Fans were back at Wembley to watch Leicester’s FA Cup semi-final victory over Southampton
It was one of three pilot events aimed at getting supporters back on football pitches
This was one of three pilot events here meant to get the fans back into football.
Next week 8,000 supporters will come to the Carabao Cup final. On May 15, 21,000 people will watch the FA Cup final. The roadmap to the European Championship and eventually full stadiums depends on the success of evenings like these.
No wonder the paparazzi wanted their pound of meat. Luke was in his Leicester shirt while photographers huddled to take a picture. ‘Thumbs up! Hold the badge! they cried as his friend Josh watched, armed with his own disposable camera.
Fans are no longer allowed access to the site since December; the gates of Wembley have been locked for 13 months. On Sunday, Brent residents and key workers could apply for the hottest ticket in town.
Each winner had to provide proof of a negative Covid test and they will be asked to take another one in the coming days. It’s a price worth paying.
“It’s like the gold Willy Wonka ticket, isn’t it?” Luke told Sportsmail.
A few hundred yards away, supporters leaving Wembley Park station were greeted by a bright screen and an important reminder, “Always keep 2 meters apart,” it read. In normal times, barely a hair’s breadth would separate the mass of bodies flowing under the Bobby Moore Bridge.
It ended a year of waiting for supporters like Luck Beck to finally watch their team again
On Sunday there was a more steady stream of traffic down Wembley Way, including a few club colors. Fintan, 22, was already wearing his Southampton shirt when he arrived two hours before kick-off. It was his first game since February; girlfriend Sophia, who works at Brent Council, had never been to anyone. “Quite a big one to go to as my first game,” she said, “but very exciting!”
And even in the midst of this strange baptism came the comforting sight of flags and aluminum foil trophies. Shortly before Fintan and Sophia reached the stairs, Luke posed for the cameras one more time, this time alongside a rival fan. It was about noon.
The only hint of tension leading up to the game came when Piers Corbyn – brother of former Labor leader Jeremy and London Mayoral candidate – led a protest against Covid restrictions off the ground.
It didn’t go well and their speeches and songs were drowned out for a moment by a singing group of foxes. Among them was 47-year-old Lee who went to his first Leicester game in 1978 this month.
He’s never seen them lift the FA Cup; on Sunday he didn’t even have a ticket. But who knows? That could change in a few weeks.
Foxes fan Beck poses with Southampton Elliot Jenkins ahead of Sunday’s clash at Wembley