An evening at Wembley Stadium (may include disappointment).

I will write a match report on the debacle from Wembley at some point tomorrow, for I can’t bear to be serious in the hours following what was one of the most flat, disappointing and totally average evenings I’ve had at football in a long time.

The view from our Club Wembley seats.

At 7.45pm it didn’t feel the evening would transpire that way. About to pay £30 to enter the game, myself and fellow course-mate Dan, were lured by an offer to pay £40 (after a quick haggle) to sit in Club Level (posher seats). We couldn’t have asked for a better view of the pitch as I sat down to enjoy the almighty legroom one gets at the new Wembley and I took full advantage of the drinks holder that makes you feel like you’re at the Imax cinema. To be fair, when I’m paying £3 for a 500ml bottle of coke, I do like to know that the chances of any costly spillages have been significantly reduced, even a mere knock is unlikely to cost less than 20p of drink.

So the national anthems were sung  quite loudly, the game kicked off and within two minutes Crouchy nearly got on the end of a Stevie G pass as the England victory seemed set to be played out before our eyes.  Sadly, it never happened.

A view of Wembley Stadium from Wembley Way.

As I was approaching the stadium, I couldn’t help but remember going to England v Germany in Bloemfontain back in June. Bizarrely I felt a sense of self-importance above these other fans on Wembley Way. They hadn’t felt the sense of disappointment that comes with sitting largely amongst German fans in a stadium when you’re losing 4-1. They hadn’t then had to drive 6 hours straight back to Johannesberg including a 45 minute queue for petrol. They hadn’t had to sit through Ghana v USA the night before freezing in Rustenberg because everyone had thought England would win their Group.

Of course I was being a snob. I’m sure a large number were in South Africa and at Wembley for the Montenegro game whilst an even greater number would have given anything to be in South Africa for the World Cup.  I was lucky to go at all.

The view of Wembley Stadium from the University of Westminster, Harrow.

Given the surprisingly bad performances in South Africa it would have been easy to avoid spending any more money on the national team. However, the beauty of the new Wembley, which I can see from my Westminster University campus lured me in. The thought that Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshire may come on and change the game, that Kevin Davies may score on his debut or that England may march to the top of the Group all helped persuade me it would be a good idea to go.

It wasn’t. The 73,000 English fans were largely quiet, as often happens at England games at Wembley when there is no celebratory goal in the opening 20-30 minutes. The 300 or so Montenegro fans seemed to make more noise and were having a great time as they impersonated the ‘Toon Army’ by removing their clothing and embracing the London weather as they danced and sang. They were one of the few highlights from the evening.

Club Wembley proved to be a good experience, not just due to the already mentioned drink holders. It did feel rather different however as business looking folk sat equally engrossed in their phones as the match. Some young man behind me started speaking about the pro’s of his recent trip to Cambodia, whilst a gentlemen to my right mentioned the need to speak to John in New York about what was going on with ‘the deal’. In the away end at Chelsea last week, the blokes around me were talking about how attractive the nearby steward was and what her sexual preferences might be. This felt rightfully more VIP and I could get used to it.

I always find that it’s a much more frustrated feeling to leave a football match after your team has dominated a game and been extremely unlucky not to win it. This was no such affair, as England offered little in the final third and the Montenegro team defended well and could even have snatched the game late on.

Disappointed England fans wait for the tube home from Wembley Stadium.

As I waited in the queue for Wembley Park station after the game, the mood amongst the England fans seemed to represent disappointment, yet the boos heard at full time were not as powerful or vociferous as the ones heard after playing Algeria in the World Cup.

England should still qualify for the European 2012 Championships in Poland/ Ukraine but they are going to do so without my live support for at least a couple of games. I care about England but only in the context that I’m already over my disappointment. With Arsenal, my club side, travelling a long way to witness an awful performance can still frustrate me the following day.

At least I can say I was there when England didn’t score for the first time at the New Wembley. I’m sure that’ll be on the back of a t-shirt soon.

2 Responses to “An evening at Wembley Stadium (may include disappointment).”
  1. Josh says:

    I sat on the tube yesterday morning, looking at the advertisement in the metro saying there were still tickets for the game, I considered the short bus journey from my house to Wembley and then came to my senses.

    For a start, I thought about that feeling of disappointment after leaving Bloemfontain in June. I then thought about the tickets I bought on Monday morning for Spurs vs Inter Milan, and realised how excited I was for that. The emotions that come with club football for me is far greater than that of England. I will always support England, but I guess just not as passionately as with Spurs.

    At the World cup I was lucky to be able to get to 6 games, 2 of which were England games – against Slovenia and Germany. I was happy I went to these games, but did not enjoy the football and atmosphere as much as the the 2 Brazil games and 2 Spain games I also went to. When England start playing well, play good football, and are confident it will give a lift to fans like myself, who currently feel more connected to club football. Unfortunately I have been disappointed by England in recent years at the big tournaments.

    A point should not take us off track for qualifying, however the game itself justified why I decided not to go and be let down. I was quite happy sat in front of my tv, with dinner and my can of coke next to me. It may not have been a can holder but was glad to keep hold to the £30 I would have spent on a ticket.

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  1. […] I left Wembley Stadium on October 12th having seen England play so poorly against Montenegro I vowed that it would be some considerable time before I came back for anything other than what […]

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