Well, the FA Cup Final may not have gone the way I had hoped, but it was a really amazing day that I wouldn’t have missed for a moment. It wasn’t just the expectation of seeing my team in the final for the first time since 1990, it was also the collective joy and support that you could feel everywhere you went.
We were all resplendent in our team colours and we were getting cheers and car horns beeped at us as we walked along the road. We had decided to go to one of the pubs that was reserved for our teams supporters. When we arrived we could hear the fans chanting and singing long before we saw them. There was also the unmistakeable smell of burgers roasting over an open BBQ.
I don’t think any of us were prepared for what we saw when we entered the pub garden. There were hundreds of Crystal Palace fans crammed into the garden like sardines, all trying to shout to each other so they could be heard over the group in the covered area. They were singing at the top of their voices a medley of the Palace songs. there was also rhythmic stamping of feet and banding of the roof that was causing the brittle corrugated roof to break.
After negotiating the crowd to get a bacon roll and a drink, we decided that maybe this was a little too rowdy for us and decided to walk to the ground. The rest as they say, is history, but there was one great moment that I will always remember.
When we scored our goal, there was such jubilation in the crowd, especially where I was sitting. There were young and old fans all cheering and shaking hands between us, something that rarely happens in a very uptight UK. It represented to me the difference between the two sets of supporters. The Manchester Utd fans didnt really sing or wave flags, they just sat there almost expecting to win. Maybe the magic of the FA Cup has lessened their appreciation after all their visits to wembley? In contrast, the Palace fans were singing and waving flags and putting on a very great display.
This is what it means to support a team, although I have now lost my voice and have resorted to hand signals to be understood. Worth it thought!