My Wembley journey…
Forgive me, but I’m not quite ready to look ahead. I only just put my first pair jeans on since Wembley. I have been holed up in my City flat resembling Quasimodo with a chest infection ever since the early hours of Tuesday. But the hangover has finally disappeared and I’ve been asked by Gary to write a personal account of my Wembley journey. So here goes…
So the day started a bit more unusual than most fans. I wasn’t one of the many at County Hall or wherever coaching it down to the capital, or driving down. No, I was in fact in Sunderland as Sunday turned into bank holiday Monday; running down the street recreating the trademark Alan Shearer celebration because I was full of Rum Bongo cocktails and shots. So many shots.
I wasn’t even sure I was going to make it down to meet all the other Norwich fans in London. My family certainly weren’t sure, as they were all asking on the drive down to the Torch pub car park whether ‘anyone had heard from Sam’ and if I was even awake yet.
But I wasn’t going to miss this game of all games and somehow at quarter past seven in the morning there I was bleary eyed, taking a shower, contemplating the day ahead. Then the fire alarm in the Travelodge went off. With me fully lathered up.
“You must be joking!” I shouted. My roommate found it hilarious but I got myself sorted out, had a quick Diet Coke to settle me at Wetherspoons and caught the 8:42am from Sunderland to King’s Cross.
It had been a great weekend seeing old uni friends, but I wondered whether it was going to become the best weekend ever, courtesy of Norwich winning at Wembley.
Now I know what you’re thinking – and if you follow me on Twitter you may already know – but yes, the train I was on was absolutely rammed full of Boro fans. About four carriages full of red bellied men, woman and children. I swear there were more on that train to Wembley than there were at the league fixture I went to at the Riverside back in November!
As I was in full City colours I was bricking it, seems as I but everyone was fine with me and it was a jovial journey down.
At one point I had to make my way to the food and drink carriage and got the biggest boo of my life, they were all jeering and laughing and quite a few asked for selfies – it really was a laugh. One chap said I could have at least bought a newer shirt than the 2008 ‘Flybe’ one I was wearing, with the name and numbers peeling off. I duly informed him I was saving up for the new kit in August so I could put the Premier League badge on too. Banter.
Then some female had to go and take it too far and emptied an entire bottle of orange juice on my head. I was a bit embarrassed to be honest because the police met the train at King’s Cross and searched for her, but to no avail! We got a couple more photos of me with the Boro fans at King’s Cross and to be honest, the journey had gone well all things considered.
After dumping my luggage at the storage place I jumped on the first Metropolitan line train to Wembley Park. I love the London Underground at the worst of times but when I got on the tube and finally saw a load of other yellow I was relieved. I had made it. Phew. Now the day was really about to begin.
An electric atmosphere was helped by chants of On The Ball City, Follow Follow Follow and a cheeky ‘This train’s too big for you!’ to the clutch of Boro fans at the end of the train.
Bang. We had arrived and all started to spill out of Wembley Park.
What happened next was a bit special. Magical sounds a bit child-like, but I genuinely did just wander up Wembley Way on the left with all the other Norwich fans in absolute awe. A sea of yellow and red, streamlining into what is a magnificent stadium fit for a World Cup final…..and it was our cup final, the first in 30 years at Wembley. Everyone just seemed to be soaking it all in, it was great stuff.
Then literally as I got to the left hand slope I bumped into my brother, cousin, uncle and his best mate Paul. What were the chances out of 40,000 fans?
I thought I would arrive too late and would have to meet up with them afterwards, so happy days. My grandad was just ahead speaking to the two ladies who sit in the row in front of him every week in the Lower Barclay at Carrow Road. It was a great little reunion in the May sunshine…..I could start to sense this positive feeling about the game creeping in.
Just before the gate I finally got my hands on my ticket. Some readers may have heard about my woes of not being a season ticket holder or priority member anymore due to playing rugby and doing freelance work. I had been let down for a ticket late on Friday while out on the lash in Newcastle….so you can only imagine how tearful I was outside the pub when I looked at my phone. But luckily one of my Twitter pals, Anita, came to the rescue and her partner did the honours with the exchange outside entrance B.
I was inside the ground……..now it was time to watch an exhilarating play-off final!
Part two of Sam’s journey will be here in the early part of next week