Some of you may know, but yesterday was the FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley Stadium. It was the first time my team (Crystal Palace), had reached this stage since 1990. My brother and I along with a friend and her daughter, travelled up to London to watch the action.
My brother is notorious for getting to any event late, so we were determined that this wouldn’t happen this time. Even though it didn’t start until 4pm, we decided to head up there at 10am. We figured that a lot of fans would be travelling up so we didn’t want to get caught in the rush.
The rush, as it turns out, wasn’t there, we enjoyed a leisurely jaunt on the train and tube until we reached Wembley. We went into one of the local pubs, which was worryingly encased in metal fencing with three bouncers on the gate. After showing our credentials (Palace Shirts), we went in and had a drink.
There was a burger stand there that was cooking enough food to feed the whole stadium. My brother, not being as fussy as me, decided that this was the perfect place to eat. I have always avoided such establishments as for me, they encompass all that is potentially dangerous about outdoor food. Unfortunately, there was nowhere else near us where we could eat, so I had to go with the flow.
My anxiety immediately went into overdrive, but I tried to control the flood of negative thoughts going through my mind. I managed to keep them at bay as having a complete meltdown in the middle of the pub, running around shouting I have been poisoned, didn’t seem a good idea.
Keeping the feeling of impending doom at bay, we walked up to the stadium and found our seats. We were one of the first in there, and it looked amazing. It was nice to see it gradually fill with people until it was packed. I was pleased that I only had to use my coping tools a couple of times and when the games started, the adrenalin was being used to gesticulate wildly to the players who could obviously see me from here.
I won’t go into the in’s and out’s of the game, but I was really impressed with out supporters. The show of colours and furment from them was amazing. It was really special to be a part of the day, especially because we won!
The journey home was not a smooth as on the way up. From the moment we left the stadium, we were caught in slow moving people all the way to the Underground station. We were all huddled and shunted along Olympic Way like sheep waiting to be dipped. The tube train wasn’t any better, a sardine tin would probably seem like a palatial residence compared to that small tube of steel speeding under London.
It was a good job everyone on there were football supporters, as there seemed a strange togetherness that you wouldn’t get with any other strangers. It was as though we knew a lot about each other, even though we only had one common interest.
After a long tube ride we had a long train journey with a lovely bloke who had just completed the London Marathon. He looked like he was only just able to keep himself upright, but he was smiling from ear to ear. There were also a couple of guys who were trying to gain entry to the toilet. Even though the out of order sign was flashing, they were convinced that there was someone in there trying to wind them up. Eventually they got the door open with a key and entered, only to find the evidence of why it was out of order. Being drunk and happy at winning their argument with the invisible man, they decided to use it anyway.
It was a weary day, but one I am glad I took part in. Anxiety rarely allow you to do these things easily and even though I did have a brief spell of panic, it was overall a very good day.