Our friends at @1LegOnTheCup reached the 15th step on their monumental FA Cup journey earlier this month. Here’s their latest musings…
A monster semi final weekend ahead means a really early start for me & the big fella as we head off once again to that London for the penultimate game on our road to Wembley. Hotel & trains booked a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of a couple of my ‘connected’ people being able to sort tickets out for both games for us…… mmmmm… i may have jumped too soon there!
“WTF do you mean i’m picking you up at 4.45 in the morning!?!?” the big fella asks me on Friday night. I did tell him this some time back but he either chose not to register this information or just didn’t believe me still he managed it and for 5.05am along with lots of red & blue scousers a very grumpy Rhino was with me at Piccadilly ready for the off. I suppose we did have a little time to spare as the train wasn’t leaving until 5.25 but none of the coffee shops were open at the station & that just added even more frown lines to the big fella’s brow!
We’re off! 5.25 on the dot, no singing or anything from me on the train, even though i was quite giddy, as you might expect it’s unadvisable to upset an angry Rhino! Just let him sleep lol. so with the big fella snoozing away & pinning me into the corner i got chatting with a young girl opposite me & she took the photo for me no doubt he will get me back for this at some point over the weekend. She was a very nice girl & was filling out the application form on her laptop for a visa to go working in New York, i told her everything would be fine so long as she didn’t have a criminal record “you don’t have a record do you?” “just a caution” she replied “i battered a girl that slept with my boyfriend!” …. oops! Ipod & headphones time for me, catch up on a few podcasts.
The big fella wakes up in a much better mood on our arrival at Euston & after a coffee at our usual stop at the station we go in search of our hotel, even though it’s just after 8 o’clock and we can’t check in until after 2pm we want to leave our bags there as we’re still hoping to get a phone call or email from someone to say “the tickets are waiting for you at Wembley”
After a 15 minute walk down Euston Rd. we come across Belgrove St & the Hotel California… que the Eagles! lol lol but no! What’s this? the Rhino has turned into a hotel inspector! I look round to find the big fella scrutinising the railings outside our flop for the night and it put me right off singing the smash hit from years ago!
Once i had stopped laughing we went inside to ask if we could leave our bags ar reception & check in later on in the evening, the girl on reception was fantastic & she told us if we waited in the lounge area she would find out if we could swap to an empty room & check in straight away. Sat in the hotel lounge we have one more check of the phone & email for ticket news while we are waiting for the room key and still nothing! But on a lighter note the receptionist came over and told us we had been upgraded to a bigger room with no extra charge!….. nice!
ok, many of you have asked how i managed to get tickets for the semi & up until now i have remained tight-lipped! I was still fairly confident in the PR people coming up with tickets for Sunday but if they could get us Saturday tickets as well that would be a great bonus after all it’s these people who we are getting the tickets for the final from, so if they can’t get semi tickets… who can???
I have been trying to get an interview at Wembley with a guy called David Barber for quite a few weeks now & i finally got to speak to him in the week leading up to the semis, David has seen over 400 FA Cup games in his lifetime dating back to his first one at Crystal Palace in 1960! So after various conversations with lots of different people at Wembley i got a phone call from a guy called Jon telling me that our quest to follow the cup had been brought to his attention and had i been able to obtain tickets for the semi yet? I told him i hadn’t as yet but was confident in the PR people coming through for me, “well just in case they can’t sort it out for you can i offer you 2 tickets for a semi final of your choice compliments of the FA?………. hello, are you still there?” not for the first time on this fantastic journey i was speechless & blubbering like my 12 year old step daughter when 1 Direction are on TV! “er… yea…i mean, really? Honestly?…. HELL YEAH!!!”
I was completely bowled over with this phone call & not only did he offer me a choice of games he also put us on the halfway line in the Chelsea side, as we were technically there with the blues but isle seats as well, sure enough the postie turned up the day after with the tickets & a note from the guy saying “Tony, have a great day on us! Regards, Jon”
But on the 23rd April, St. Georges Day, me & the big fella will be Wembley bound once again for an interview with David Barber – the ultimate Jedi Master Cup Football Anorak! How cool is that!? i will be doing a special blog of the interview and the list of questions we want to ask is growing by the minute. Same day we’re off to Putney in the evening to rip up the Chelsea Podcast with Chidge & the boys! Let’s hope it hasn’t wilted & gone all droopy by then…………… the red rose i’ll be wearing i mean
Cracking on, it turned out we were closer to Kings Cross tube station than Euston so we go underground for the first time today & decided to head to Wembley and soak up some of the atmosphere with the scousers. This was always going to be the plan if ever we couldn’t get tickets for a game on the journey & technically our game wasn’t until 6 o’clock tomorrow!
We were a little hesitant about this at first as it’s pretty well known that scousers & manc’s don’t really get on with each other when it comes to football but everyone was in fine spirits and if anything it was that London that was the main problem. The circle line was shut that had a knock-on effect with other services & the police had decided to segregate the pubs with ‘Liverpool only’ & ‘Everton Only’ signs in the windows of the pubs surrounding Wembley! All these people had travelled down the road & rail networks together and on the anniversary weekend of Hillsborough did they honestly think there would be trouble?
we went into Thirsty Eddies, an Irish-looking pub because it had the ‘Everton’ sign in the window & we were wearing blue coats! It was as good a reason as any plus other than on twitter, i only know one Everton fan, Martin Heywood, a poker mate of mine back home
The blues were fantastic! What a top bunch of blokes and after about 30 of them had sang “you can shove your Wayne Rooney up your arse” at us we had a good few beers with them lol lol. As the reds walked past the chants came from the blues, but they gave as good as they got and it was all just great banter, the sort of atmosphere where a cynical old fart like me would say “why can’t all football be like this”
The Rhino’s new detective look was going down quite well too! A couple of blues were more than happy to pose with one of the world’s greatest sleuths & the big fella informed the lads he would be at Bootle FC before too long on a pie inspection!
The Police once again played their part in spoiling the day as we were informed that all pubs in the area would close & be emptied at 11.30 then re-open at 12.45 (15 mins after kick off) i really don’t understand why this was necessary but who am i to judge? we left it until about 12.15 before we walked down to the stadium & the streets were almost empty by now apart from the odd ticket-tout who had now ‘dropped’ his prices to a mere £200 each! Er…. no thanks.
Wandering down an almost eerie Wembley way gave us a great opportunity to recky our exit from the stadium tomorrow, we have to be back at Euston for the 9.51 train that we booked well before the FA changed this game to kick off at 6 o’clock!
We’re told by the staff at the over ground station at Wembley that there will be extra trains that hold 500 people departing every 15 minutes to Marylebone & it’s only a 10 minute, one stop journey so we hop on the next train to check it out. The £7.70 travel tickets are valid on this service and before too long we’re looking for a pub in Marylebone with a TV to watch the game.
it took us another 10 minutes or so to find a pub & when we did it didn’t have a TV! But there was a bookie’s over the road so it was time to get a couple of beers & pick horses for the National later on. This involved more detective work from the big fella with tips & hot picks coming in by tweet & text as well as a lot of form studying from the free paper. “ok, i’ve made my mind up…. Treacle, £10 on the nose!” and with that statement a £10 lands on the table in front of me and off i go over the road to place the bet.
Having not watched any of the scouse semi we walked back to the station to get the tube back towards Euston, “Andy Carroll was a good price at the bookies” i said as we set off, the big fella chuckled & said “depends who’s riding him & if he gets jostled at the start!”
We worked out that it would take just over an hour to get from Wembley to Euston on the route we had just taken & that was with a stop off at the flop to pick up the bags, so if our game goes to extra time & penalties we would be knackered!