Thursday, April 23, 2009

Norwichomon. Sunday: LB

Despite the drunken haze and Low Country malaise of Saturday, the best was yet to come. It arrived at 8.15 the following morning in the form of our obese bus driver, as he turned up, showered, shitted, and ready to navigate us slowly back to London. A quick stop at the hotel before heading to Wembley, the beautiful new jewel in the English crown. (We'll get to that later)

We boarded his tiny van and immediately discharged him of the responsibility of map-reading, because we had the overwhelming feeling that reading a colouring book might have proved too difficult. Bigus knew the roads from his home to the capital very well, and despite every effort by our driver to cock it up, we made the trip in record time.

Wembley, from afar. Oh, how lovely you are

And then, to Wembley, and what a sight it is. For a country so utterly hopeless with architecture, where hastily built housing estates dominate, the imposing sight of the new Wembley on the hill and its brilliant, cantilevered arch thing that serves no real function other than aesthetic (so forward-thinking, I know), is breathtaking. You soon forget what a pain in the arse it is to get there, what with heavy delays and overcrowding on the Tube line out to the stadium, and once we were liberated from our fart-stale van, a good mile out, we set about the backroads through an industrial estate to Wembley itself.

The first sight upon getting there was a large group of Man United fans, and the sight brought back nauseating memories of LFC/Man U games at Anfield. Even though the Carling Cup final opponents were Spurs, this particular rabble were singing and dancing songs about the Neville brothers and hating Scousers. It struck me as odd at the time, but in hindsight, those trollops can only focus on one team at a time, and regardless of their opposition, it always comes back to the Scouse.

It reminded me why I hate the Mancs; their missing genes and missing teeth are just the tip of the iceberg. On a proud day out, they waste their oxygen yakking about Liverpool. Granted, since then, our lads have spanked them in their own backyard, so maybe their songs come from a place of insecurity.

But I digress. This is about Tottenham, and their proud day out at Wembley!

We passed their encampment, a squalid little pub/bar with two floors and a front that made it look like a cross between a B&B and a halfway home. With police on horseback all over the place, the best we could hear were their Yid chants as they drank and drank at the wrong end of the stadium.

Moving around the front, we finally let RZM in on the secret: we were sitting in the Spurs Friends and Family section, in seats our friend had managed to procure from Jonathan Woodgate. I'm not sure what it says about Wooders that his allocated seats were so easily given away, but it was enough to send RZM on a punching frenzy. First, the air. Next, each one of us. That's just how he shows his affection, I suppose.

We got in and immediately set about sampling the pies. The bar was raised quite high by Delia the day before; after the Chicken Balti that was superb, Wembley's mass-produced stodge department had a cracker of their own in the ominous "meat" pie. Easily the highlight of the pie samplings we enjoyed on the trip, despite probably containing enough spare parts of animals and medieval butchering to fill a thousand outraged PETA propaganda videos. Another pie in quick succession and a couple more lukewarm lagers served in plastic cups (never trust a Yid with glassware) before we took our seats.

Walking up the passageway out to the stands is my favourite part of seeing live sport. The noise is tinny and funneled into your face as you get closer to the light, before it hits you full on like a Bigus curry fart once you see the pitch. It was gorgeous, as you'd expect; lush, pristine, well-groomed, and ready for the 120+ minutes of football that was about to take place.

The section of seating was right next to the media section where, in their little gated enclosure, the journalists and columnists would sit and watch, unimpressed, while their assistants frantically typed their reports for them and watched the replay monitors (we'd frequently get up and crane our necks to watch replays, something the giant screens at either end of the stadium didn't do too often). It's also the place where the pundits would horrendously misgrade the players for their performances, giving Jermaine Jenas sevens and eights where half that would have been more appropriate.

Look at the Spurs fans! They're easily distracted by big, wave-able objects, and good thing too!

Back to the pre-game; it appeared that the Spurs fans won the early merchandise game, as the Yids were decked out with big blue-and-white Spurs flags while the Mancs weren't to be trusted with such potential weaponry. It wouldn't take much to snap the wooden dowel in half and start spearing hapless North Londoners, and so, they were merch-free (or maybe they couldn't afford it?). As the teams came out, the stadium was packed to capacity, with the Yids going through the chants (including, bafflingly, "Super Pavlyuchenko" ad nauseam), flags raised high and waved as one would expect.

The Satanists affirm their allegiance via group spelling

The ad wizards at Carling had young ladies prancing across the pitch with giant Carling balloons, attached to which were small banners for each of the players starting the game. Each player had their own balloon, their own little banner thing, and their own disinterested, over-primped teenage girl doing the walk. It was as if the two giant Carling balloons, the center-circle Carling banner, and the pitch-side Carling hoardings wasn't enough. With every big sporting event, the corporation's gotta represent!

Ready to go...

And so, to the game itself. 'Arry was the first manager to leave his dugout recliner in order to gesture wildly at his lads, while Fergie sat back like you'd expect him to, comfortable in his old age and safe in the knowledge that his team, at half-strength for the final, didn't need much prompting.

Surprisingly, it was a decent 0-0. United had the lion's share of the scoring chances, mostly from broken play and wild shots from distance, while Spurs had only two real bright spots: Luka Modric and Aaron Lennon. Jenas was a depressing specter in midfield, doing nothing to halt United's advances. Lennon showed pace and menace down the right-wing, giving the English a glimmer of hope in the "who will replace Becks on the right?" stakes, although it didn't matter how hard he tried, for Super Pavlyuchenko and Darren Bent were fucking hopeless. Reduced to cantering in pursuit of long-balls from the back four, Pavs' most significant contribution was a free-kick from 25 yards that nearly broke the big screen high above goal.

So much for this bet. Money wasted!

King and Woodgate were more than equipped to deal with Danny Welbeck, and while Assou-Ekotto gave Ronaldo miles of space to collect possession on the right, he always managed to do enough on his heels to disrupt the stepovers.

Plotting how to choke the life out of the midfield...

For United, their youngsters showed why they're not quite there yet, while several of the fringe players were equally anonymous. Tevez ran a lot to accomplish little; Nani was average, as was most of their midfield. Once Ferguson brought on Anderson to switch to a 4-5-1, 'Arry dutifully followed suit and any fizz in the game was quickly released. Both teams clogged the midfield and played the hopeful cross-field passing game in an attempt to get round the back.

O'Shea should have been sent off, and Ronaldo was booked for a dive-that-wasn't after BAE hacked him down at the edge of the box.

The Redknapp Salute!

From there, it always looked like penalties. Despite late cameos from Bentley (crap) and Bale (surprisingly good on the left-wing; perhaps he should never play full-back again?), we closed with the inevitable; United, replete with slick technological advantages, won easily on penalties, including the hilariously poor effort from David Bentley. Why he moved to White Hart Lane, I'll never know.

RZM was despondent and quiet, despite several loud bursts of expletives at Bentley throughout extra-time; they were even more hilarious considering Bentley's folks were perched right behind us, muttering and sighing into their scarves. You know it's bad when even his family betray the same lack of confidence in their progeny as the 40,000 Yiddos packed around them.

Ronaldo's ready to shoot... wish he'd missed

Losing on penalties left him mute, and so we filtered out and battled the masses while trying to get down to Holborn so Bigus could do beers and banter with some old friends. On the tube away from Wembley, a proud, rugby-obsessed father sat opposite RZM and me, with his smug, red-headed daughter snuggled next to him. Over the course of the 30-minute ride, she near reduced our Yid to tears with her barbs, for which he had little in the way of G-rated comeback. A depressing end to a disheartening day.

Rooney's face should never be on the big screen

Pies, penalties and David Bentley.

We closed the night with bitters, soju and Korean food before decamping to the hotel for a nightcap and a few short hours rest. It didn't matter, as we missed our flight home.

All in all, Norwichomon was a raving success, and I look forward to next year, ever hopeful that we'll squeeze in a trip to Anfield. My digestive system is grateful for 11 months of rest in the meantime.

Don't forget to pay your respects to England legend Bobby Moore on your way out!

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