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If you have read my blog pages, you would already know that I am a huge footie fan, that has a job with my club, I am fortunate to work for my club and get all the benefits of being close enough to the action.
Last weekend we unbelievably went back to wemberley for the third season running, to play in the league two play offs final v Newport county. I still cannot believe how well my club has done, just getting anywhere close to finishing the league anywhere near the playoffs. Actually being at Wembley is a bonus. Winning is the icing on the cake!
We travelled down on the day before the final and we had booked the same hotel and being not superstitious, we ate at the same restaurant! Same breakfast, same supermarket for the stuff needed for the dressing room. We travelled the same route to Wembley.
But fate had stepped in to upset our plans!
As we left the supermarket, I started smelling burning and seeing a little smoke coming into the cab of our van. Also we lost the blowers, the indicators and other electrical powered systems.
We immediately pulled over and opened the doors and windows. As the smoke cleared, I got the bonnet open and assessing the engine, oil, water and checking the important part of the engine and then we checked the fuses and found, the one from the electrical system has melted and another two was very hot causing the smoke and electrical faults. I pulled the fuses, checked everything else and found that the engine was running okay.
I was beside myself, we should have been at the stadium by then and I was worried sick that another break down was going to take too long, and I wouldn't get to the stadium early enough, my anxiety levels went through the roof. I was using a few choice words. I was in a near panic! The most important game of the season, and this bloody van was trying to ruin the day again!
Nor was this the first time our transport had failed us, in the past few weeks, the gear linkage cable failed going to a London club, the power steering went on a trip to south Wales, the turbo hose leaking, and a blow out on the M6, on the way back from Nottinghamshire!
No wonder I was swearing, in the end after discussing the situation with my colleagues, we decided to chance getting to the stadium and then phoning the AA, the breakdown organisation, not the alcoholic one! Though both would have helped at that moment!
We arrived nearly forty minutes later than we should, but the staff on duty were very helpful and agreed to help with our predicament, we got signed in and handed our accreditation. We got escorted to the changing room area near the tunnel, and off loaded. As soon as this was done, my colleague phoned the AA and myself and other colleague looked after the dressing room.
In the dressing room everything was done and well organised for the arrival of the players. I was just so relieved when we could start enjoying the experience of the day.
The mechanic arrived about an hour after us, and gained access to our van, thanks to the Wembley staff and he set about to at least get the van running for the return trip up north.
All thoughts of the van took a back seat, as the players arrived and as the kick off approached because this is the important time as the players get ready and go out for warm up. Every time I have stepped out onto the Wembley turf, it is a thrill that I savour, in my wildest dreams, I never thought that I would be on the famous Wembley turf! It was warm out there, and the weather could have a bearing, if it went to extra time.
It did, the amount of water, we used, was trotting up and I had to ask for more and find ways to keep towels cold.
Everything possible was done to help the players cope with the heat.
I will say now, that both teams did not want penalties, and the longer the game went on, it was becoming more than likely! They already were a man down due to a red card. But we couldn't really create anything and were getting frustrated, we didn't take advantage of the extra man, they were seeing the extra time out very well indeed! Our bench was biting their fingertips. Until the very last seconds of the extra time, in the 119th minute, a good move down our right allowed our right wing back to put in a cross to our strikers head and he placed the ball into the opposite corner of the goal as the goalkeeper was trying to get across.
The bench erupted, I tried to get to the players but got blocked of by other staff, we had scored, Oh, wow! Jumping up and down, the whole one side of the stadium were dancing and singing, it was so loud, it is an incredible feeling and experience being there in front of all our support, oh yeah, my ears are still ringing!
We had won and all the players and staff were congratulating each other and it is unbelievable celebrating at the home of footie and the partying never stopped for another thirty six hours!
At this point, I would like to mention our opponents, who were incredible, not only did they never stop competing, they were very honourable in defeat. Despite the result, they were very friendly and congratulated us warmly.
Their fans were brilliant and were as loud as ours. 25,000 + for two relatively small clubs was brilliant.
We celebrated in the changing room, then in the big lounge above, I was cleaning up as usual., then the players and staff celebrated on the coach home. (Dont tell the rozzers!)
After four hours, t h e mechanic announced that the van was okay to drive home, this was as the game went on.
So we packed the van and eventually around eight o'clock, we set off home, thanking everyone in sight for such a great day. The drive home was without incident, thankfully because the mechanic had warned us that he to rig up the electrical system, because to be fit for future excursions, the van needed a completely new main electrical wiring loom.
We arrived at our ground just after midnight, the party was still going on in one of the lounges, whilst the fans had gained access to the car park outside and were still singing.
The party carried on into the morning, I wisely took myself home.
The whole staff and players returned the following afternoon to give the fans a chance to greet the players and manager on the pitch and mingle with supporters in the fans zone tent.
We had a civic reception the following afternoon.
Phew! I'm tired!
What a weekend!
What a result!
I'm booking the hotel for the end of next season!
I'm getting a new van, I hope I can persuade my bosses to get me one!
League One and new grounds and stadia to visit!
I did say, last time, we are back, watch out!
League One, look out, the superwhites are back!
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