It was 5.00 (am) in the morning and I was sitting in a Dublin taxi on my way to the airport. Normally I get a very chatty taxi driver, who gives out about most things in or around Ireland, but that morning the taxi driver was just as tired as I was. However, his day was going to be fairly boring compared to my day. I had been invited to attend the FA Cup final at Wembley stadium, on 30th of May 2009. Not the old Wembley of course, but the new one, the one that was opened in March 2007 – a few months delayed.
What was even more amazing was that Chelsea (my team if you didn’t know) was playing in the final – the team I’ve supported for years – against another “great” team, Everton. Everton has done really well in the FA Cup over the years, and has been a pain in Chelsea’s side for years, as Everton has beaten Chelsea in crucial games.
The New Wembley is absolutely amazing. It has been built within what looks like a normal suburban residential area, within London. How the local community could allow this I do not know, but there it was.
The Arch the has been build over the stadium rises over 140 meters from the ground. You can see it for miles – if it wasn’t for some of the other large buildings surrounding it.
As soon as you get off at the Wembley tube station, and goes out the front obviously, it is rising directly in front of you. When you start walking towards it you realise how gigantic it is – it rises up as a towering (no, not inferno like the movie) structure, until you appear as a small ant in front of the huge facade. Outside the Wembley main entrance is the bronze statue of the legend Bobby Moore.
To be honest, I had no idea who he was and had to look it up on Google – on my Blackberry.
The inside of the stadium is just as spectacular. Fantastic service, easy to find your way around, huge class windows and friendly staff all over. One simply doesn’t feel that you are in a place that can hold 80000 screaming supporters.
- 11:45 Arrive at Wembley Stadium
- 12:00 Champagne reception in the Private Box (free bar 🙂 )
- 13:00 Three course lunch with fine wines (free bar 🙂 )
- 15:00 Match Kick Off with complimentary bar throughout the game
- 15:45 Half-time refreshments (free bar 🙂 )
- 16:45 Post match refreshments (free bar 🙂 )
- 18:15 Club Wembley Closes
We had the best seats in the house, with a perfect view of the entire pitch, and all the people below us. This is what it must feel like to be a king. It’s the only way to watch the FA Cup final live; beautiful dinner, free bar and your own seat just outside your booth.
One minor problem. As soon as you enter the stadium, you are in no smoking zone. At that time, I was still a smoker, so it was painful when you could enjoy a beer and a fag.
The game was intense and Everton scored the fastest goal in FA Cup history, within 25 seconds. I have to admit, I was very nervous that Everton would actually beat the mighty Blues. But, that was all within the first minute, so still another 89 minutes to go.
Once Everton had scored, Chelsea took over and controlled the remaining game – more or less. Everton tried a few times, but couldn’t make anything of their chances.
Chelsea on the other hand wanted to thank Guus Hiddink for his achievement and went on to score twice; Lampard and Drogba. All the Chelsea faithfuls were delighted and singing all their usual songs to/for their heroes.
Watching a game, in Wembley, along side 80000 screaming Everton and Chelsea supporters, is an experience that you simply cannot describe. You get carried away with the atmosphere and can’t help but screaming, booing, closing your eyes and raising your arms of joy. The hairs on your arms rises when the fans sing and cheer their teams. When it is all over, you just stand there staring and smiling at the pitch, wondering what just happened.
Then you realise you just had an absolutely awesome (sorry!) experience that no one will fully understand, no matter how hard you try to explain it. Some childish thoughts emerges in your head saying that you’ve just witness history in the making and you might cry a little.
Still shaking and wondering what just happened, I savoured the moment in the VIP lounge, drinking several free beers. As soon as I left the stadium, heading towards the Tube, I smoked 5 cigarettes – just because I could.
I had to head back to the airport as I did this trip in the same day, flying out at 6.40 (at the airport at 5.00) and returning at 21.15 (back in my house at 23.30). It had been a really long day, but worth it.
Exhausted, and perhaps a bit drunk, I fell a sleep in my bed dreaming of me winning the FA Cup – me scoring the final and winning goal. I screamed of joy, only to realise that I had actually screamed and my wife was hitting me with the pillow.