The Wembley turf: Our top 10 ‘Did You Knows’

The Wembley turf: Our top 10 ‘Did You Knows’

With England’s first home game of the football season taking place against Slovakia in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on 4 September, we thought we’d take a look at some fascinating facts and stats about the stadium’s hallowed turf.

And while most of the footy facts might be quite well-known, the same can’t be said about the pitch itself.

For example, did you know that …

1. The Wembley pitch has a Desso Grassmaster system which was introduced to overcome early problems with the pitch after the new stadium was opened in 2007. The technology combines synthetic grass with the real Wembley grass and uses a SubAir system, integrated undersoil heating and artificial lighting.

2. The system means that even during very cold spells, the soil temperature can be kept at a constant 17 degrees, ensuring a world class playing surface.

3. It took almost two weeks to insert over 48,000km of synthetic thread into the turf.

4. Each strand of synthetic grass has six blades, so amongst the real Wembley grass, there are 120 million blades of Desso Grassmaster, which were inserted into the ground using long needles.

5. Wembley’s real grass is a 100% ryegrass mix that’s exclusive to Wembley and is called Wembley Special Mix.

6. The initial pitch problems at the new stadium were caused by the stadium’s microclimate due to its enclosed structure and because it’s in complete shade between late September and late March. The pitch had to be re-turfed 11 times in three years so eventually, the fibre-sand turfed surface had to go.

7. The new pitch is four metres lower than the previous pitch.

8. The pitch is covered by a protection system during concerts, when up to 25,000 people stand on the pitch area.

9. The pitch maintenance routine includes daily cutting; weekly sub-surface aeration to control moisture content and oxygen levels in the roots; a fertiliser schedule; and the use of artificial lights to encourage growth.

10. The system’s technology sends up-to-the-minute information to head groundsman Karl Standley’s mobile phone on pitch temperature, moisture levels, salinity and humidity.

And, for our footy fans, here are four more facts about Wembley:

The first match at the original Wembley Stadium was the FA Cup Final in April 1923, when Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham United 2-0 in the famous White Horse Final, so-named because a mounted policeman went onto the pitch to help clear the crowds. The game had not been ticketed and an estimated 200,000 fans turned up. Oops!

The most famous game was, of course, the 1966 World Cup Final when Geoff Hurst became the only player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup Final as England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time. Since then it’s been 51 years of hurt for fans of England’s senior side, and counting ...

The last game at the old Wembley was a 1-0 defeat against Germany in October 2000. The stadium and famous Twin Towers were then demolished to make way for the new Wembley Stadium featuring its iconic arch.

This is the 10th anniversary of the new stadium being opened.

In six years’ time, we’ll be celebrating 100 years of Wembley Stadium. So many memories, so many stories, all played out on the most famous blades of grass in the world!