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