A day out at Wembley - At last !! In my lifetime, since 17th April 1964, Stoke City had played at the National Stadium just twice. Firstly in 1972 when they reached the final of the League Cup against hot favourites Chelsea. Being just 8 years old, my parents decided that I was too young to go to a football game with so many people and so off they trotted to Wembley and left me with Gran. Not that I've got anything against my Grandmother - but I've never forgiven them for it. In fact I usually mention it around Christmas time every year to try and make sure they don't enjoy the festivities too much ! Stoke went on to win and ensured that my support was stronger than ever. Living in Streetly, South Staffordshire at the time, most of my schoolfriends supported Aston Vanilla - the team that everybody licks. The following few days at school, were spent doing a fair bit of gloating. The second visit didn't arrive until 1992 when Stoke reached the final of the Autoglass trophy against Stockport County. I thought my time had finally come to follow my team to the 'Twin Towers'. I checked on the date only to find that I had already confirmed that I would attend the wedding of friends Carl & Wendy. Easy, you'd think. Apologise and say you now couldn't make the wedding. Unfortunately I had agreed to video their big day for them which made it very difficult to let them down and so for a second time - Stoke were at Wembley and I couldn't go. The reception was held at an hotel in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. I found that a crackly radio reception of Radio Stoke could just be heard on the car radio, so I spent most of the afternoon sitting in the car. When it came to the speeches the father of the Bride started by saying "You're very lucky to have me here today as my team are playing at Wembley today". I was happy to hear that there was another Stokie at the wedding until I heard him say that he was a Stockport fan but he didn't know how they'd got on. My apologies had to go to Carl & Wendy as shouting "YOU LOST" in a happy voice comes out quite loud when you're stood right next to a video camera !! When I travelled up to the Britannia Stadium to watch the second leg of the renamed Autoglass Trophy semi final against Rochdale with Stoke already 3-1 up from the first leg, I was already thinking that this time would be '3rd time lucky' - I wasn't going to miss it this time. We duly won 1-0 and I was looking forward to the trip. As my birthday falls on 17th April, I decided that I would make the last Auto Windscreen final to be played at the original Wembley Stadium on Sunday 16th April 2000, a special occasion. I decided to travel to the game early to make sure I didn't miss anything - I went down on Thursday ! On the way down I popped into a classic English country inn - the Royal Standard of England. Well worth a visit - Charles II thought so too. I then proceeded on to Theydon Bois in Essex to stop with a mate for a couple of days. Theydon Bois is convieniently on the London Underground and just one change at Liverpool Street, gets you on a fast train to Wembley Park. I spend an excellent couple of days trying out some of the better quality pubs in central London, along with meeting up for lunch with an ex-girlfriend who I'd not seen for about 15 years.
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Stoke City Football Club 16th April 2000