Date: 7th April 2008 at 9:04am
Written by:

A dairy account of my week (UKTony) leading up to, and including the FA Cup Semi Final victory over West Brom.

29th March

We met Pompey4me outside the shop before the game and he gave us the precious tickets. Had a brief chat about travel up there and what might happen after the game, viz a viz drinks, celebratory or otherwise.
Had a brief look round the shop but it’s heaving; we’ll try after the game.

Really getting in the mood now; the Fratton End is singing que sera sera and even the tannoy joins in. Pompey are one up but not playing that well; still to strong for Wigan though. The people behind us have been talking non-stop for an hour about how unfair it was that they couldn’t get all the tickets they wanted.

Back to the shop, which is still busy. Bought the obligatory Wembley caps, one each for me and Gill and a big blue hand. It had to be done.
Looked for the T-shirts that we have pre-ordered on line but there is no sign of them. Let’s hope they arrive on time.
All the flag sellers along Goldsmith Avenue have long gone. Never mind, I’m sure there’ll be more next Saturday.

Chatted with the guard on the way home; he will be on the same train as us for the game; the first one out of Pompey. He reckons by the time we join it at Haslemere (at 05:48!) it will be standing room only. Apparently there are only 15 trains out of Pompey that have a chance of getting people to Wembley on time. 15 trains for an estimated 20,000 people trying to use them.

31st March

Got a ‘phone call from Alan to say the extra tickets had been collected by TNT and should be with me tomorrow. Decided against ‘phoning Rug with the news. It could still go all horribly wrong.

Filled in my season ticket renewal forms. Is it me, or are they just too complicated? Confirmed my half-day holiday on Friday to go down to the ticket office and sort out the renewal. Roll on the rest of this week.

1st April

Just taken a call from TNT; they’re trying to deliver a parcel (yippee!) but all they have is “2nd Floor, Farnborough”. I gave them the full address and she hoped it would be delivered this morning. Hope this is not an April fool. Fingers crossed.

Woo hoo; TNT has turned up and 4 “Club Wembley” seats are now in my hot little hands. A quick view on the Wembley seating plan suggests these are top seats.

Rang Rug to tell him the tickets have arrived; you can hear the smile on his face. Agreed to talk later in the week about meeting up on Friday for the official handover.

2nd April

Wow, what a strange dream. It was half time at Wembley (we were leading 1-0) so I went to get some drinks. It took forever. On my return from the bar, the stadium had disappeared and replaced by a walkway. I followed it for miles and ended up at Victoria Station. I couldn’t make anyone understand what had happened. I then went to a pub to discover that the final score was 1-1 but, because we had scored first, we progressed to the final.

3rd April

Bugger, T-shirts still haven’t arrived. Will now have to stop off en route to the Pompey shop tomorrow to see if they have been delivered. If not, I’ll have to buy something else. Gill wants a polo shirt; hope they’ve still got some.

4th April

Logged on to the VP site. An email from Rug suggested we meet up at 1.30-2.00. I’ll definitely have to leave work at 12 now. Still the sun is shining and the sky is blue.
Four people in the office asked me if I was getting excited. That in itself makes me even more excited. This morning will pass slowly.

Just got home, en route to FP. Still no t-shirts. Rang Gill to say I’d try and get something else at the shop.

Just looked round the shop; I can’t believe there is not one piece of Wembley memorabilia left. Will have to make do with “normal” Pompey wears then.

Just finished queuing up to renew the season tickets, with Rug who was trying to buy one. Reasonably enough, we can’t look to move until the end of May. Still Gill and I have renewed our existing seats and Rug has managed to get one 4 seats away. That’s a result.

Just left 4me’s house after dropping Rug off. Everyone is now very excited and nervous but still looking forward to it. 4me has decided that a 7 am start is too late and is going to try for 6am.

Gill’s just rung; can I pick her up from Guildford as a train has broken down south of there and all trains are suspended. Oh God, I hope that isn’t the same train that we are supposed to be on tomorrow.

5th April

OMG, the day is here. Up with a spring in our steps and a flutter in our hearts.

Haslemere Station and there is only one other guy around, the stationmaster on the phone to the police because a couple of kids have smashed up the waiting room. The train is shown as “on time” so a couple of fags before we head for the platform.

Oh sh*t the train has just pulled in 10 minutes early. Hare over the bridge and jump aboard. It is a see of blue and white and, as promised, standing room only. There is the unmistakable smell of alcohol everywhere. It seems most people have been drinking since 5am.
I’m wearing my 2 ft tall blue and white hat and, as you would expect, it attracts a few comments. All good friendly banter though.

Still on the train, having gone round in a big circle to avoid the engineering works at Clapham. The guard has promised an arrival at 07.30. The toilets have packed up and it’s getting a tad warm in our carriage.

The train doors open and a blue and white wave emerges on to Platform 9. Immediately there is a huge roar as 2000 fans start chanting.

The concourse erupts with a massive round of the Pompey Chimes; the only people here are Pompey fans and it`s echoing all around the station. It sends a shiver right through me.

We’re here at the famous Wembley stadium. Having decided against getting something to eat at Waterloo, I thought Gill and I would have the place to ourselves. I couldn’t be more wrong. Rang Rug to see where he, 4me and his family were. Found out they got here before us. Walked down Wembley way, looking for something to eat. Nothing is open.

We’ve met up with everyone and are looking for somewhere to hang out. The original meeting place, JJ Moons, has been taken over by WBA fans. Rug rings Chix and a new meeting place, The Greyhound, is agreed. Find the pub, which doesn’t open until 10. Nevertheless the area is full of Pompey fans, all in good voice. What`s more, there is an off licence across the road, so the first beer of the day is enjoyed.

WBA fans are congregating outside the off licence and across the road from us. Lots of singing and friendly banter going on. We are louder than they are. Coaches are pouring up Wembley High Road; there are more of us than them. It`s going to be a good day.

We’re making our way back up to the stadium. We have to enter through “block say” as the tannoy insists on calling it. The only one with no queue! Damn, these must be good seats.

We’re in and boy the view is fantastic. Right behind the goal and legroom to die for. Time for another beer!

OK, we’re off. Play up Pompey.

Rubbish first half. WBA probably just shaved it though no real chances for either side. 4-4-2 doesn’t seem to be working and oh for an out and out winger. All the referee’s decisions seem to be against us, but we’re still optimistic.

Kanu, not my favourite player, taps in from 2 yards after great work by Baros. The crowd has gone mental; everyone’s hugging and kissing and the noise goes up another couple of notches.

3 minutes of added time turns into about 5; now I’m nervous because Nugent has just blasted over from in front of goal and all the action is down the other end; memories of 1992 come flooding back.

It’s all over and we’re in the final. I can’t believe it. The players have sunk to their knees; I’m knackered just watching it, so imagine how they feel. Congratulations ring out over the tannoy and the WBA fans depart quickly. I text my brother in law to see if he can work his magic for tickets for the Final. I’m not hopeful though.

Meet up with Rug and say goodbye to him and 4me and his family. They’re back to the car and we’re off down Wembley way.

At Waterloo and it is as deserted as it was this morning. Apparently there have been no trains since 10 this morning because of a cable fire.

A train to Portsmouth Harbour arrives and departs within 5 minutes; we have the carriage to ourselves, thanks to earlier tube announcements that Pompey supporters should use Victoria Station. Still takes nearly 2 hours to get to Haslemere though.

Home at last. We are both shattered but on a high. Thoughts inevitably turn to the final, ticket arrangements and likely opponents. To be honest, I couldn’t care less at the moment. We’re going to Wembley AGAIN. PLAY UP POMPEY.

Written by UKTony.

The views within this article are the views of the individual who wrote and submitted this piece, sometimes solely theirs. They are not necessarily shared by the Vital Pompey Site Journalists.

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15 Replies to “UKTony’s Semi Final Pompey Diary”

  • Lovely story Tony, did it really happen? I keep pinching myself but I’m still not sure! Glad we all met up for a few minutes. Roll on May 17th.

  • Went to JJ.Moons at 09:00 to try and find some of you but there were tons of Baggies outside banging on the shutters! I thought sod that and moved to the newsagents on the main road at the western approach to the stadium (Wembley Central side of the ground), it was mantal with all Pompey buying up all the cans of larger and standing outside the shop singing/dishing out jeers to all the Baggies fans that walked past. Made me laugh when the coppers turned round and said ”CAN YOU DRINK SOMEWHERE ELSE PLEASE? OR WE WILL MOVE YOU ON” So i decided to head to the stadium and WOW i couldn’t belive it!! especially when you get to the top of the stairs and look out into the pitch – what a site what an experience – THANK YOU POMPEY.

  • Awesome day! Football was good the atmosphere was amazing…. Even had a couple of Baggies fans wishing us luck for the final as I took the bus back across London! Just wish I was still living in Pompey as the journey home would have been excellent!

  • After a last minute change of plan as a ticket became available for my Old Man I ended up coming in at Wembley Park. JJ Moons would have been a long trek and by the sounds of it i am glad I decided to not walk all the way round. Instead I ended up in ‘The Sports Bar’ which had a HUGE Marquee out the back and was only allowing Pompey Fans in. I would recommend it for the final great atmosphere inside!

  • Wasn’t it a fantastic day. Got to FP 5.50 and queued over an hour for the coach – got to Wembley about 10.10 – had a walk around the stadium, tried to find JJMoons but gave up as it was getting on for 11 and the stadium was calling. Had some chips in a mainly West Brom area (JJ Moons was miles away?). What an atmosphere -all those thousands of Pompey fans making so much noise, and although the match was worrying the result was right. We’re in the final and we’re going to win the cup!!!!

  • Oh and I got up before my 5am alarm that morning. A bit like the Disneyland advert where the kids cant sleep and then find Mum&Dad sat with their coats on.

  • Tony, you forgot 2 things:
    5th April. 10.45 am till 12.10 pm on the phone to Rug trying to explain where we are sitting. All 6 of us jumping and dancing, I even had H on my shoulders so he could see us, only to realise Rug is blind! lol
    5th April. 13.24 + 10 seconds, were too deleriously happy to be able to co-ordinate a high 5!

  • Definitely think we should meet up at the Greyhound again; closer to the ground than JJ Moons. We can then sample some more of the newsagents local brew that rendered me and 4me incapable

  • 7th April 18.30

    Pompey Megastore Wembley 2008 T shirts finally arrive, 18 days after being ordered. Good job we have another chance to wear them.

  • Still pinching myself can feel nothing must be dead!! Did it happen or was it just like Tony’s dream?

  • It’s a bit weird that in my dream I ended up at Victoria. On the tube back from Wembley, the driver told us we must use Victoria as Waterloo was closed. A premonition perhaps?

  • Left home at 8.00am and arrived at Wembley just after 10.00am. Couldn’t believe the amount of people already there! Passed loads of Pompey fans along the motorways, all flying flags, scarves, etc. One drivers face was painted half blue and half white.
    Had to collect my tickets from the ticket tout at the Premier Inn when I found out I was to sit at the Baggies end. Still, it wasn’t all bad. I was up the far end in the expensive seats and I could see the whole Pompey end – Fantastic. Also, the Baggies around us were very nice and fully expected us to win!

  • Gandor, I think i’d have felt really uncomfortable there. How much were the tickets off the tout?

  • I paid £300.00 for each ticket and when I arrived at the Premier Inn I was told I had been given an upgrade and was asked for another £50.00 (which I declined to pay). I had a sneaky feeling that my tickets (for Pompey end) had been sold to people on that morning and that I was being given what was left. I took a big chance, but I had given up trying to get tickets and then on the Friday morning, someone told my about “Ticket Bookers” which is where I bought my tickets.

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