As England prepare to play their 1,000th international against Montenegro on November 14th at Wembley Stadium, Elephant Sport looks back at the many stadia that have hosted their home games down the years.
The home stadium for the England national team is Wembley, right? Sort of…
Over the last 147 years, England have led a nomadic existence when it comes to hosting games. In total, they have actually played at over 50 different grounds all around the country since their first match against Scotland in 1872.
That encounter – the world’s first football international fixture – took place at the West Scotland Cricket Club, and England staged their first home game against the Scots on March 30, 1872 at another cricket ground – The Oval in Kennington, London, which they won 4-2.
The original Wembley Stadium, originally known as the Empire Stadium, opened in 1923, and up to that point (and even beyond it), the England team were on the road for their home matches.
Between the 1873 and 1924 they played nearly 70 home games at venues including Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane, Anfield and Goodison Park in Liverpool, Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park and Villa Park in Birmingham. In total, England played in 19 nineteen different cities and 35 stadia in that era.
England’s first home game not at The Oval came in 1881, when they were beaten 1-0 by Wales at the East Lancashire Cricket Club in Blackburn. By 1890, all their matches were being played at football stadia (although Bramall Lane was also used for cricket by Yorkshire until 1973).
From 1883-84 onwards, England hosted games in the British Home Championship against Scotland, Wales and Ireland (and then Northern Ireland are Irish independence). The competition last for 100 years.
Another venue which hosted home matches in the early years of the 20th century was the White City Stadium, built for the 1908 Olympics in London. Only eight nations took part in the football competition, and 12 other sports were staged at the west London location during the Games.
After Wembley Stadium opened its turnstiles in 1923, England’s first match beneath the famous Twin Towers came in 1924 against the Auld Enemy, Scotland. Until 1951, Wembley only saw matches between England and Scotland but in that year the first big international game against Argentina was held at the stadium, with England winning 2-1.
Even after Wembley came into use, England still played many of their matches in other locations. Goodison Park in Liverpool was one of their favorites, playing seven games in total, winning four and drawing two. White Hart Lane was another lucky ground, with England winning all four of their internationals at Tottenham’s home.
After World War II, England’s games continued to be a moveable feast, and it wasn’t until the early-mid 1950s that the team really settled at Wembley. It was, of course, the scene of the first – and to date only – World Cup triumph, in 1966. The Three Lions played all their games during the tournament at Wembley, and stayed in north London 30 years later as England hosted Euro 96 and reached the semi-finals.
Wembley continued to host England games into the 21st century, but by then the old venue was starting to show its age, and was eventually deemed as unfit to be the home of English football. A decision was taken to demolish it and build a new stadium on the same site, meaning England had to go on their travels against between 2001 and 2007.
During that time, they played in 15 different stadia, eight of which had never hosted England internationals. Some 34 matches were spread around the country, bringing England closer to supporters outside of London.
England on tour
Given its size, Old Trafford in Manchester was the most used stadium during this time, hosting more than a dozen matches, including 2002 and 2006 World Cup qualifiers, and Euro 2004 and 2008 qualifying games.
The tour saw England team return to several cities for the first time in 5- years or more, and was considered a success, not only because it kept the money rolling in for the FA but also because the team engaged with fans all over the country.
After several delays, the new Wembley Stadium was finally finished in 2007, and England’s inaugural match there on June 1st, ended in a 1-1 draw against Brazil.
Since then, England have definitely called Wembley home, but during the build-up to Euro 2016, they played two games outside of London; against Turkey at the Etihad Stadium and Australia at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.
Ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, England beat Costa Rica 2-0 in a friendly at Elland Road, Leeds, and after the tournament, Leicester City’s King Power Stadium hosted another friendly: a 1-0 win over Switzerland.
In September 2019, England staged a World Cup qualifier against Kosovo at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium, winning 5-3, but expect the vast majority of their matches to be played at the National Stadium – as Wembley is known these days – for the foreseeable future.
Here is a list of all of the grounds England have called home the past 147 years, with some interesting peculiarities:
Alexandra Meadows, Blackburn – played in 1881; also was a cricket ground.
Leamington Road, Blackburn – played in 1885 and 1887; ground closed in 1890.
Ewood Park, Blackburn – played in 1891 and 1924; held three Women’s Uefa Championship games in 2005.
Wellington Road, Birmingham – played in 1893; ground closed in 1897.
Turf Moor, Burnley – played in 1927; one of the oldest football grounds still in use in the United Kingdom, second only to Deepdale and Bramall Lane.
Bloomfield Road, Blackpool – played in 1932.
Park Avenue, Bradford – played in 1909; also a cricket ground.
Ashton Gate, Bristol – 1899 and 1913; also a rugby ground.
Cricket Ground, Derby – played in 1895; hosted the first-ever FA cup final played outside London.
Baseball Ground, Derby – played in 1911; demolished 2003.
Pride Park, Derby – played in 2001; fourth newest stadium to host England.
Leeds Road, Huddersfield – played in 1946; since demolished, also a rugby league ground.
Portman Road, Ipswich – played in 2003.
Elland Road, Leeds – played in 1995, 2002 and 2018 – being one of the oldest in the country to still be in use, also a rugby league venue.
King Power Stadium, Leicester – played in 2003 and 2018; newest stadium in the Premier League along the Etihad Stadium.
Liverpool Cricket Ground, Liverpool – played in 1883; also a cricket ground.
Anfield, Liverpool – played in 1889, 1905, 1922, 1926, 1931, 2001, 2002 and 2006.
Goodison Park, Liverpool – played in 1895, 1907, 1911, 1924, 1928, 1935, 1947, 1949, 1951, 1953 and 1966 – held three games in the 1966 World Cup.
The Oval Kennington, London – played during 1873 to 1889 – first stadium England called home; their original home ground.
Athletic Ground Richmond, London – played in 1893; a rugby field.
Queen’s Club, West Kensington, London – played in 1895; now famous as a tennis venue.
Selhurst Park, Crystal Palace, London – played in 1897, 1901, 1905, 1909 and 1926.
Craven Cottage, Fulham, London – played in 1907.
The Den, New Cross, London – played in 1911; demolished in 1993 and rebuilt 2010.
Stamford Bridge, London – played in 1913, 1929 and 1932; also staged cricket, rugby, baseball, speedway, boxing, American football and greyhound racing.
Arsenal Stadium, Highbury London – played in 1920, 1923, 1931, 1936, 1938, 1947, 1948, 1950 and 1951 – held 1962 FIFA World Cup qualification; demolished in 2006.
White Hart Lane, Tottenham, London – played in 1933, 1935, 1937 and 1949; demolished in 2017.
Boleyn Ground, Upton Park, London – played in 2003; demolished in 2017.
White City Stadium, London – played in 1909; demolished in 1985.
Wembley Stadium, London – played in since 2007 and current home.
Whalley Range, Manchester – played in 1885.
Old Trafford, Manchester – played in 1926, 1938, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007 – second biggest capacity in the United Kingdom. Has held FA Cup semi-finals, World Cup games, Champions League final, Euro Cup games.
Maine Road, Manchester – played in 1946 and 1949 – demolished in 2004. When opened, it was the biggest stadium in England and the second largest after Wembley.
City of Manchester Stadium (Etihad Stadium), Manchester – played in 2004 and 2016 – Newest Stadium along with the King Power Stadium. Used for the 2002 Commonwealth Games then reconfigured for football.
Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough – played in 1905, 1914 and 1937; demolished in 1996; a venue for games at the 1966 World Cup.
Riverside, Middlesbrough – played in 2003; record of attendance (35,000) for England v Slovakia.
St James’ Park, Newcastle – played in 1901, 1907, 1933, 1938, 2001, 2004 and 2005; held 2002 and 2006 World Cup qualification games.
Trent Bridge, Nottingham – played in 1897; famous as a cricket ground.
City Ground, Nottingham – played in 1909; hosted Euro 96 games.
Fratton Park, Portsmouth – played in 1903; an Olympic venue in 1948.
Bramall Lane, Sheffield – played in 1883, 1887, 1897, 1903 and 1930; considered to be the oldest football stadium in the world.
Hillborough, Sheffield – played in 1920 and 1962.
The Dell, Southampton – played in 1901; closed in 2001. The first ground to have permanent floodlighting installed.
St. Mary’s, Southampton – played 2002 and 2019.
Victoria Ground, Stoke-on-Trent – played in 1889, 1893 and 1936; demolished in 1997.
Newcastle Road, Sunderland – played in 1891; closed in 1998.
Roker Park, Sunderland – played in 1899, 1920 and 1950; closed and demolished in 1998 but then remade.
Stadium of Light, Sunderland – played in 1999, 2003 and 2016; replaced Roker Park as Sunderland’s home.
Molineux, Wolverhampton – played in 1891, 1903, 1936 and 1956 – it has a long story and was one of the first stadiums to install artificial lights. Also first to host European Cup matches in 1950.
The Hawthorns, West Bromwich – played in 1922 and 1924.
Feature image by Michael Day via Flickr Creative Commons under licence CC BY-NC 2.0. Old Wembley postcard by ca1951rr under licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Panoramic shot of Wembley by AKinsey Foto under licence CC BY-NC 2.0.