Wembley: FA Cup Final City 1 – 0 Stoke

Apologies in advance for this being a bit long and a bit emotional – and not perfectly written! I’m sure you’ll appreciate that it was a HUGE day 🙂

I ALWAYS watch the FA Cup Final, regardless of which teams are playing in it. It’s the grand finale to the football season and I love the occasion. (You may recall mum and me watching it in the garden in 2009 ) It was hard to believe that I was going to actually be at Wembley for the final, watching it live. Hard to believe I was going to Wembley to see City (having previously been to see England) It was therefore beyond comprehension that I was going to watch CITY in an FA CUP FINAL at WEMBLEY!

Before City were even known to be in the final, Billy, Raji and I had made plans to drive to Dorset this day ready for a family Christening on the Sunday, and then when City were through and I found out I’d got a ticket, I felt I wouldn’t be able to go. Fortunately for me I have a sports mad husband and B-I-L and they were both very insistent that I must go to the game. They both came up with the same plan too, completely independently of each other. And so it was that they got up at 3am without complaint, and we set off at 4am for London where we planned to stop off before continuing the drive to Dorset after the match. We had set off this early expecting heavy traffic and many delays on the M1, but that good old Law-of-Sod came into play and we had a very smooth journey indeed. We started to see football fans as we got further south (City, Stoke and Huddersfield) but must have left sufficiently early to have missed most. We parked at Denham station, hopped on the train that obligingly arrived just a couple of minutes later and after a short (18 minutes) trip, arrived at Wembley by 10am! Still no complaints from the men, though I did apologise for my over-cautiousness.

I’d had texts from Mum saying she was drinking her cuppa from my/dad’s City mug for luck, and from my brother with a photo of him in his City shirt ready, as well as others from various friends. Finally, driving done, I could start to get excited! We walked up through the stadium surrounds and it was great seeing the flags and scarves everywhere, and feeling the buzz. I had to have a picture to prove I was there – sadly the ones showing the Wembley signs were of me with an upside down scarf, which Billy hadn’t noticed! A passing steward pointed it out so we tried again – but missed off the word “Wembley”:


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Since City had been allocated the west side of Wembley, it meant that the Green Man pub which Billy and I had enjoyed so much last time, was a designated City pub and so we made our way there – trusting Billy’s memory and sense of direction, which got us there in the end, albeit by a bit of a circuitous route 😉 To our disappointment though, once there, it seemed match tickets had to be shown in order to get in so I suggested we get a picnic and camp out on the roundabout we’d just passed (and which had infamously been a sea of Blue for the semi-final) Billy was having none of it though and said I should go in and enjoy being with fellow Blues to enjoy the build up, and that he and Raji would go off and amuse themselves for the day. So I called Rick, the secretary of our North East supporters club to check he was already there, and then said goodbye to my two chivalrous escorts and went on in.

I made my way to the garden and grabbed a burger as I passed the BBQ since I had no idea when I’d next get the chance to eat. The gang were in the marquee guarding the beautiful new flag the branch had just got – it looked brilliant and plenty of photos were taken with it.

Rick kindly got me a drink – though for speed of being served he had to get a can of Stella rather than draught beer, and since I was driving later, I just drank about a quarter of it to be safe. I’d barely had anything to drink all morning on the drive (because I’d only need to keep stopping for the loo) so was pretty thirsty, but managed to stay sensible. It was great to see everyone again, especially Rick and Mark whom I love to bits, and the atmosphere was already building up nicely, though we all agreed it was all a bit surreal. Just a few snapshots of the pre-match fun:
I was relating the tale of me balancing a pint on my head on my last trip to this pub and of course that started us off again 😀 Mark had been saying for about an hour that he wanted a burger before he finally went off and got one – and then whilst he was gone, Uwe Rosler made an appearance and the marquee emptied fast as everyone went to see the legend. I stayed and guarded our stuff and was then laughing at Mark when he returned to find he’d missed it all. There were a couple of lads who jumped up on a handy picnic bench to get the singing going and decided everyone had to learn the words to the Balotelli song (..he’s a striker, he’s good at darts…) so it was sung over and over with more people joining in as they learned the words. One lad decided he had to strip off his shirt to reveal a nicely toned, tanned and tattooed torso, prompting everyone to sing that he’d been to the tanning shop. Just as this died down, up jumped a much older man with, shall we say, a less appealing torso and a large beer belly who was delighted with his own song claiming he’d been to the pie shop 😀 Mark’s next bee in his bonnet was that he wanted to be outside in the sunshine and as he was wearing shorts we could only conclude that he was after a tan! So we took down the flag and folded it neatly before joining Dan and the others in the garden. (We were so lucky with the weather as the forecast had been for showers, sometimes heavy, but in fact it was sunny and fairly mild, though slightly breezy at times.) Dan introduced me to “Sharon” his lucky inflatable dolphin mascot, so I introduced everyone outside to Kitty, (I’d already done so with those inside) who was pleased to receive good luck kisses. 🙂 (The other major good luck charms there on the day were Elliot’s begraggled scarf – if that could talk, I reckon it’d have a few tales to tell, and I wore my dad’s City badge again, as I had for the semi-final. Actually I am sure there were thousands of good luck charms and mascots there – we’re a superstitious bunch ;))

In this City video, at about 2mins 52 secs, if you look top right, you just see me in the background 🙂


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Rick wanted to get inside the stadium early enough to put up the flag so a couple of us went with him and the others joined us later, wanting to enjoy a bit more of the singing and atmosphere in the pub first. We couldn’t put the flag right in front of our seats but we got it fairly close which was great.


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We then went and got a drink – I paid £2.70 for a small bottle of water, having had my own bottle taken away and the water decanted into a cup on the way in! (That was my usual match going water bottle which was just the right size to go in my bag, and now it’s gone 🙁 ) Since this was also put in a cup, I had no chance of saving any for later so had to drink it all before the game. It turned out to be my last for several hours, though adrenalin and euphoria meant I hardly noticed at the time.

Soon it was time to be back in our seats (well, in front of them, we never actually sat in them all afternoon!) and it was time for the build up. I can’t describe the noise, the colour, the expectancy, the excitement, the whole sense of occasion. Both sets of fans were magnificent and sang, clapped, roared and waved their flags (I managed to keep mine in tact to bring home, but it got a good wave before kick off.) Having made a point of learning the words to “Abide with me“, I was disappointed that the song was mangled (by varying the tempo too much) by the official singers. However, I enthusiastically joined in with the National Anthem and, not for the only time that day, had a tear in my eye thinking how much dad would have loved it. Mum and Rick were watching at home on their TV’s and Billy and Raji had gone back to Denham and after finding a greasy spoon and having a good breakfast, were now in a pub and watching the match on TV. So I was spiritually with all my family as we all watched, and with my many friends at home cheering City on for me, and with those Blues around the world not at the match but every bit as caught up in it as those of us there, and physically with my beloved Blue family all around. It was a magic feeling. We greeted our team enthusiastically, and when the Stoke team were read out, we did the Poznan 🙂

And then we we were off! I’ll leave the detailed stuff (including the moments that Huth and Yaya could have had an early bath!) to the online match reports by MCFC and the Beeb, not least because it all felt like an amazing dream. I was SO proud of the way the team came out and played. We had it in mind to do the Poznan in the 24th minute, in honour of Neil Young’s 24th minute winning goal last time City won the FA Cup, but at 23.5 minutes, City had a corner…. which took forever to take! We barely made it to get the Poznan in that 24th minute, but somehow we did, just! 🙂 We created chances and by half time had had 10 shots to Stoke’s 2 – how it was still 0-0 I don’t know! (Well, actually, Stoke’s keeper had a bit to do with it 😉 )

Throughout the match, the (very inebriated) man next to me, who had (for some unknown reason) given me his sunglasses to look after for him kept asking me what he’d given me? And where I’d put them. And would I be giving them back at the end? In the end I answered his question before he asked it and promised him he could forget about it as I had them safely stashed in my bag and would be sure to return them! He also kept trying to kiss me and I had to keep turning my face as I repeated that I was happily married – I ended up with a slobbery cheek and eye by the end! It was all good natured though, and just a part of the general air of excitement and fun.

Into the second half then, and we were starting to think it was going to be one of those afternoons where the ball just will not go in the net. When up popped Yaya! OMG! I think I ripped a vocal chord cheering! We went MAD! We did the Poznan again and my neighbour was so drunk he was pulling me over the seats in front 😀 Did I care? Erm, nope! The MotM was awarded to Balotelli, who did indeed have a good game and acted in a much more mature fashion than usual. However, tough call as it was, De Jong was my choice – some of his tackles were superb. This really was a team performance though and they all did well – and I was pleased that Zaba came on as a sub as he has been fantastic and deserved to play a part.

After the goal we were bags of nerves! To a man, we had hands over faces, we bit nails, we scrunched up scarves, we watched the clock and willed it down. Every free kick, every throw in Stoke had, we expected them to score. City couldn’t possibly break the 35 year habit and actually win….. could they?

The whistle blew. City HAD! We had WON! If we went nuts at the goal, it was nothing to realising we’d won! I wasn’t alone, however, in also having a cry. If only dad (and his dad) could have seen this. And yet, having been praying to them throughout the match, maybe they did! I certainly felt close to them just then. It wasn’t just me though. Young Josh, (who I think is brilliant and I love him) ,who’d been as loud as anyone singing, and looked more a nervous wreck at 1-0 than any of us, cried with the older fans who’d seen City’s last trophy win. Happy tears of gratitude and an element of disbelief I think. But the tears didn’t last, and the flags were soon waving again, singing recommenced, hearts burst with pride.

Having been singing all through the match, you’d think we’d have run out of voice and energy, but we happily belted out more songs, including “We are the Champions” which set me off again as it had been dad’s platoon’s song and he used to love singing it.


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We shared a moment of sympathy with Stoke fans and we all applauded their players as they went up for their medals. They reciprocated and stayed on to watch and applaud our players as they went up for theirs – I think both sets of fans were fantastic on the day and as far as I’m aware there was no trouble, and I think maybe there was a lot of mutual respect shown and possibly a slight rise in estimation of each other.

When City lifted that cup, the emotion was pure joy. To be there, to know you’ve been there for the boys trough thick and thin, to know they are your heroes, a new generation of legends, to feel the love for all your fellow Blues, to be a PART of it all – was absolutely indescribably wonderful. I could hardly take it in – not just because I’m more used to the lows than the highs with my club, but also because there was just so much noise, colour, movement, and raw emotion throughout the day. In fact it took me a few days to process it all and sort it into some sort of order.

Eventually, I knew I needed to make a move as there was still a long drive ahead. I took my leave of everyone, with cuddles and kisses all round, and headed to the station to get the train. As I found the right queue, I realised Billy had my ticket, and though he’d said he would come and meet me, I didn’t see how he would find me in the mass of people. His phone had died, so he used Raji’s to call me, and after several missed calls between us (too noisy to hear) we finally managed to talk to each other. He’d got a policeman at the other end to let him through the barriers to come and find me and we had to get another policeman to let him back through to my side. He gave me an enormous cuddle and said “You lucky, lucky thing, seeing your team lift the FA Cup.” I was too overwhelmed to speak so just squeezed him tight – I love being married to football fan as he knew how I must be feeling and squeezed me back. 🙂

Despite the long queues, Wembley have got a good system and it wasn’t long before we were on the train back to Denham. Stoke and City fans mingled peaceably and I was pleased to see one City fan talking sympathetically to a couple of young Stoke lads. They hadn’t expected to win, they said, and agreed when he asked if they’d have taken European football and an FA Cup final at the start of the season. They all parted on good terms. Raji was waiting for us when we got back and my first priority on getting back to the car was to have a long drink of water as I was very, very thirsty. We decided to get on the road and have food and a proper rest at the first services, and this worked out nicely. It had been a great idea to park at Denham (thanks Bloovee) and had worked perfectly. We were in Poole with the family by 9.30pm and at long last I got to have the long awaited MCFC End of an Era Champagne I’d been hoarding since 2003!

Kippax Blue’s photos here.
MCFC’s 60 second highlights.
MCFC’s extended highlights.
MCFC’s tunnel cam.
MCFC – the train journey home.
LOADS of City videos and pictures on the City site, so happy exploring 🙂

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