Coventry City V Oxford United, FA Trophy Final, Wembley Stadium: Sunday 2nd April
After weeks of waiting to see whether Paul was able to get the time off work to join us at Wembley his unpaid leave was granted. We were off to Wembley and for Kris it was fitting that his first football match at the home of English football involved his hometown club. And even more fitting that the Sky Blues were returning to Wembley almost 30 years after their FA Cup win against Spurs in 1987.
Trying to get a selfie of the three of us overlooking Wembley Stadium as potentially 89,997 other people try and do the same is a challenge but I think we managed it. As someone who isn’t a football fan, I didn’t really appreciate the magnitude of the stadium until we got there. 90,000 people pouring out of a tube station is quite a sight. There was a wave of blue Cov flags and yellow Oxford flags flapping in the breeze, Oxford fans singing to Coventry supporters who sit bottom of League One that they were ‘going down with the Swindon’, Kris said he didn’t even realise a rivalry existed between Oxford and Swindon. Kris has said he noticed Oxford supporters trying to wind Cov fans up as we walked towards the ground, passing Sky Sports reporters as well as flag and scarf sellers on the way.
I saw supporters who seemed to have been drinking since breakfast time singing songs, many of which Kris knew. I didn’t understand a word of them. With Coventry having already having sold 40,000 plus tickets, we did think that we may have to sit with the Oxford fans. But being neutrally dressed it would not have mattered. We were able to get seats in the Coventry end and actually, the seats were really good. We looked directly on to the centre circle – the perfect view.
Never try and go to a pub outside the stadium for a pint unless you plan to get there at around 8am. They were all so busy, in fact so busy they closed their gates and didn’t allow anyone else in. It wasn’t any easier to get a drink inside the stadium either.
By the time we climbed the four flights of stairs to find our seats, the stadium was slowly filling up. As the game began, the three of us were highly amused by the young guy sat in front of us. He was a quiet and innocent lad until the football started and then the moment he didn’t agree with the ref’s decision, he was ‘effing and jeffing’ like no ones business – sticking his middle finger up at anyone in eyesight. Football has a strange effect on people.
Sat behind us was definitely someone who was there purely for the experience, she was wearing a Oxford United V Coventry City scarf and a large blue foam hand. I had to laugh as at every opportunity she would yell ‘who are ya? Who are ya?’ Well, this is something Kiera and I chant at the work when the telephone rings displaying a number we do not recognise. Kiera being a Birmingham City fan has explained to me that this is popular chant with football fans when a substitute comes on – you learn something new everyday.
After Coventry scored their final goal, it seemed as if half the Oxford fans upped and left, they knew there was no coming back from that. As soon as the final whistle went the noise was epic! There was cheering, whistling, horns being blown and even crying from the Coventry fans. People were still celebrating as they walked towards the tube station.
I heard one Oxford fan state: ‘I am so annoyed, we were the better team’, for her friend to respond with ‘mate, you lost 2-1, suck it up!’ When we finally got on the train back to Birmingham at 9pm after visiting mum, we were surprised to see so many Coventry fans travelling back with us considering the game finished at 4:30pm. They all looked a little worse for wear and a handful of them were having a ‘to do’ with a number of Oxford fans – the poor train conductor was pacing up and down the carriages clearly under some stress, there was very little he could do. I decided to ignore them and read my book but Kris was entertained them so watched with interest.
Overall, I really enjoyed our day out at Wembley and am glad we got to share the day with Paul.
Written by Fern Sargeant and edited by Kris Bramwell