Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The best day I've ever had at a football match (and we lost)

 Here we are setting off to Wembley on a sunny Saturday morning.  I dug the flag out from a long  forgotten bag in the loft and found a garden cane to fit it.  I bought it at the League One Play Off Final in Cardiff in 2005.  We won then so I hoped it would bring us luck.

Our journey took a lot less time than we had expected mainly due to the kindness of my friend who drove us to a station which had a quicker train service so we found ourselves walking through an almost deserted Wembley at 10.45am.  We eventually found our way to one of the designated Sheffield Wednesday pubs, The Green Man.  From Facebook before the game it seemed as though the whole of Sheffield would be there and, by the end, that's what it felt like.

As we walked into the beer garden we found a few hundred people already there with a peaceful buzz of quiet conversation.

Later on, as it got busier, the inevitable inflatables started being bashed around.  These owl guys were much heralded before the game as the accessory of choice.  I didn't buy one so was very pleased to spend a few minutes with this cute little chap.

Getting crowded now.  We could see coach after coach arriving and heard that there was a big queue to get in so our friends and family who had not already joined us would probably not see us until later in the ground.

Luckily James, Rich's half brother and his pal found their way in in time!

We spotted a couple of blokes we know from the Valley wearing the jesters caps.

And some more Valley lads.

Then the singing really got going.

And every sing song needs a conductor and a smoke bomb!

Time to head down to the stadium.

Rich works with this girl and had just found out she is going out with a bloke we know from our Sheffield local, the New Barracks Tavern.  What a coincidence!

Heading down into the fan park for some food as we were STARVING by now.  Every concession seemed to have been stripped bare so we were left with a hotdog and chilli fries.  My Lighter Life councillor would not have been impressed!

Bobby Moore.

When we got into the ground we were chuffed with our seats.  Almost in the middle of the goal, not too low, not too high.  Perffick.

 It was also apparent that Sheffield Wednesday had brought many, many more supporters than Hull City.   Our section in blue and white was packed to the rafters but there were swathes of empty red seats in the Hull section.  Heartbreaking really as we knew that, had the Hull tickets been sold more carefully, thousands of tickets could have been released to us and many of our friends back home in Sheffield could have been down south with us.  Gah!!

The display of blue and white flags in the lower section looked awesome but must have been even more impressive from the Hull end.

The big flag travelled round the lower section but somehow got turned around by the end so that our Owl was upside down!

Then the game began - serious stuff.  We had our chances but were outplayed by a stronger, more experienced Hull side who eventually won 1-nil.  What Hull did not win though was the crowd.  We were just amazing.  The noise was incredible.  At the beginning of the second half we got a new song going and it just went on and on and on, clapping and singing relentlessly for over 15 minutes, even when Hull had possession and were taking corners.  It was crazy.  I've never been part of such togetherness and positivity.  Richard, who has been to League and FA Cup Finals and semi finals in the glory years of the early nineties said that Saturday was he loudest and most impressive atmosphere he has ever been part of.

If fans won matches we would be in the Premier League now.  We've since watched the game back and the commentators were shocked by the noise levels and intensity of our support.  When we bounced (it's our thing) you could actually see the TV camera shaking!

At the end of the game, the losing side's support usually melts away pretty quickly to the tube while the winning side receives the Cup and celebrates with their fans.  Not us.  We stayed and sang and sang some more.  You could see the players who were shattered with disappointment just staring opened mouthed at us. Eventually, while Hull were climbing the Wembley steps, our team and staff walked round applauding us.  I'm sure it helped them get over the hurt.  We will be back better and stronger next season I'm sure.

I was so proud of us all and our boys.

No comments: