Thursday, May 22, 2008

Oh Lord..... What a beauty!

(View of Wembley from..well Wembley)

She's new on the scene, she's big in town, she's got pair of giant monitors and she's home to 90,000 men. No I am not talking about Avram Grant's wife..... but Wembley!

Last weekend I was very lucky to be treated to the FA Cup final. Wembley can only be described as amazing....As we walked up the steps to enter the place my jaw hit the floor. It truly is fit to be called the home of English football. The atmosphere was electric. The spectacle of the event unrivaled and the stadium itself an edifice of carefully designed beauty.

As you can probably tell this was my first visit to the new Wembley and my first FA Cup final. We flew in on Friday for a 2 day beer sandwich filled with Welsh over achievers and seamen from the south coast (hello sailor!)

The build up to the game reached a climax as female drummers danced on a stage, and the noise levels slowly reached pandemonium. A sea of flags to our left and right indicated that for both sets of supporters the temporary nerve-induced equivalent of Parkinson's had well and truly set in.

First half.
Cardiff were always over matched in this game but they got off to a flyer and had a fair spell of the possession in the first 20 minutes. Even forcing David James into action twice. After 20 minutes Pompey set off on their first counter attack with Utaka on the ball and pretty much looked comfortable for the rest of the half. After missing a sitter, Kanu pounced on Cardiff keeper Enckleman's fumble and popped the ball into the empty net. Cue stupid dance.

Second half
Pompey spurned second half chances to kill off Cardiff only to give the Welsh minnows hope as the clock ticked down. It was obvious to all except David Jones that Hasselbaink was impotent to Campbell's height. The former Chelsea striker wobbled along the back line line like an old lady running for a bus. Cardiff replaced him for the younger (taller) Stephen Thompson and they suddenly started to hold the ball around the Pompey area. Jones also brought on lively teenager Aaron Ramsey.

Ramsey jinked his way through the midfield on no less than 4 occasions in just 10 minutes or so. He will soon be jinking his way out of Cardiff as this is one kid will soon be plying his trade in the Premiership very soon. He creates space by receiving the ball close to his opponent only to sprint away, turn and take on all comers. The second half showed why both teams were playing in different leagues. Cardiff played simple passes and Portsmouth created space with skill and speed.

The fourth official waved his board indicating 4 minutes of stoppage time and the Cardiff supporters roared. The players raised their heads and found the energy for another pop at the Portsmouth defence. Why these four minutes seemed more important than the four before baffled me but there you are. Cardiff bossed the closing minutes and flooded the area.

After a final round of ping pong in the Portsmouth box the ball was cleared and the ref blew for time. The Portsmouth fans started their party and the Welsh tears started to flow.

I couldn't help thinking how cruel the Wembley steps must be for the losing team. A slow hike up several flights of stairs only to be handed a shiny silver medal that brands you a loser. Then the bluebirds had to stand on display in the middle of the pitch as the Portsmouth players marched to the top of the steps to get their hands on the FA Cup. Harry finally had his trophy and the players pranced around the pitch in ridiculous hats.

Portsmouth fans had waited a long time for their second cup win in their history and they celebrated accordingly. As a neutral I enjoyed watching the joyous scene with a sad jealousy. The notion set in that I may never enjoy this party as a Norwich fan. Maybe one day...and then Wembley old girl.....

I'll be back!

Wembley picture gallery

(Cardiff fans at Wembley)

(Cardiff V Portsmouth Kick off)

(Portsmouth parade the FA Cup in front of their supporters)

(We can see you! A couple of Cardiff players mope in the posh area high above us as we leave)

(Cardiff City players watch as Harry lifts the Cup)

(Bobby Moore overlooking Wembley Way)

(Paul is overawed at the sight of Tottenham's new socks)

(Ballack is nothing!)

(Pompey Party)

(Paul celebrates the existence of beer)

(Mickey points to his new spot 'Torres'. The name stems from his/it's ability to dribble and shoot!..Gross..I KNOW)



The Fan's Attic said...

Lucky bastard.

Passive Voice said...

"It truly is fit to be called the home of English football."

Hehe, reminds me of this:

Sorry, no idea how to HTML that into prettiness.