Saturday, March 24, 2007

"Everybody will be singing..."

Okay, I know I promised no more football posts for a little old while.
But, well, it's not every day you get to go to the long-awaited, oh-too-too-long-awaited opening of the shiny new improved Wembley.
Granted, it was only the Under-21s, and strangely enough,
about as dull as a 3-3 game could ever be.
Let's just hope that junior England defence
is not the senior England defence of the future.
Even the usually-ever-reliable Leighton Baines looked dodgy, albeit against an Italian strike duo - the historic hat-trick man Pazzini and surely-not-under-21-let's-see-that-passport-again-please-Mister Rosina - who might soon be moving up a level, if the reigning world champions' status in fourth place behind Ukraine, France and Scotland continues much longer...
But, anyway, Wemberlee - well, hello hello, it was good to be back - wandering, struggling, down the still-a-little-shabby Wembley Way among the hordes, remembering vividly past visits to see Spurs lose a cup in 1987, win a cup in 1991, win another cup in 1991
- and, well, plenty more Wembley visits for one reason or another.
Thinking about it, I'd notched up rather a lot of Wembley wends: starting in 1986 with a Rous Cup victory for England over Scotland, 2-1, thanks partly to a rare Glenn Hoddle diving header, and culminating in the 1999 FA Cup Final in which super-sub Teddy Sheringham helped Manchester United clinch the second third of that Treble.
Oh, and we thought that was as dramatic as it might get...
In between came the day I, my mother and one brother arrived amid a forest of, er, Forest fans, them wearing grim Pearce and Clough masks, us in Morris boaters with Spurs players cut out and stuck on - and being told merely: "Oh dear, oh dear, what have we here..."
Only to be comforted, as Pearce's free-kick hurtled in, Gazza hurtled off, "goal"scoring Lineker got called offside, then frittered away a penalty.
"See, I told you you'd score," that friendly Forest fan reassured. "Oh..."
I'd like to say I was as magnanimous when we eventually came back to clinch a (deserved) win.
Ah, but I was so much younger then...
Otherwise, there have been the 1999 Worthington Cup win ("The man in the raincoat's blue and white army"), Wolves winning the Sherpa Van Trophy (mum and grandma), Bristol Rovers losing the Leyland Daf Trophy (dad), Ascoli beating Notts County to the Anglo-Italian Cup (dunno), being left speechless by Rene Higuita's "scorpion" save, being left similarly so by Koeman's winning drive for Barca's first European Cup (the second seemed quite sweet too), the rush from Seaman's save to Gazza's dentist chair against Scotland in Euro 96 - oh, and the only Wembley game I missed that summer, the 4-1 v Holland I had to crane to capture from a Villa Park pressbox as Scotland, somewhat less thrillingly,
scraped a 1-0 win against Switzerland...
Well, anyway. The here and now.
And what a stunning stadium it is, new as it is, same place as it stands.
The crowd was well below capacity, and there were lengthy stretches of silence - but when a roar went up, it certainly did stick around.
The design of the roof does seem to keep it all in, bouncing back into the ground rather than drifting away over the North Circular.
That atmosphere will feel and sound immense, just as soon as a full, proper crowd gets packed in, no doubt about it.
Just a shame Spurs won't be there for the first FA Cup Final.
Then again, with 107 steps to the Royal Box instead of the old 39 - I'm not sure our esteemed leader Ledley would have made it,
God rest his dear departed soul...
(As for the other England. Least said, the better...
Then again, for all the flak Mac will surely get:
How, incidentally, really, is Venables earning his money?
If he's such a tactical genius, how did we manage to spend almost the entire game in the opposition half - and yet the player who seemed to see most of the ball was Jamie Carragher?
At least we can't do anything but beat Andorra.
... can we?)

5 comments:

Lyndon said...

a boring 3-3 draw? now that's something...

Didn't catch much of the senior team's game (never have liked those 3:30am kick-offs) but see that the ultimate damning with faint praise has been given to my friend AJ: "hard-working" - i.e. he ran about a bit but is clearly not good enough for this level. As an Everton fan I've used that phrase to stick up for far too many "nice but not really very good" players over the years: Kilbane, Pembridge, Gemmil, Unsworth, etc. etc. Oh well.

I've been saying "McClaren out" since before he was even appointed... I'm almost hoping we don't beat Andorra so he'll be more likely to get the chop...

Lyndon said...

oh, in slightly stronger language, The Observer/Guardian (online... whatever...) accused him of playing "bonehead football" ... probably fair comment, but could have been applied to almost anyone on that team...

Clare said...

So how was the new Wembley? Was it worth the wait? Not following football whatsoever I've not heard anyone mention what the actual building was like.

Aidan said...

I think it certainly will prove worth the wait - once all 90,000 seats, luxurious leg-room an' all, are occupied then the sound and atmosphere should be immense.
Just a shame we don't seem to have a team worthy just yet...

I'm off to the Andorra game on Wednesday morning, but looking forward more - much, much more - to a day's stay in Barcelona rather than the game itself.
It's a sad state of affairs when an England game against Andorra has to be described, tensely, as a "must-win match"...

Toxic said...

AJ - he could have least fallen over in the box at some point ;¬)