Last Saturday I made my second visit to Wembley to watch the FA Cup Final. Both times it was to watch Manchester City play against another team beginning with W in an FA Cup Final. The first time was against Wigan in 2013 and the less said about that result for my Man City supporting husband, the better. This time the FA Cup final was against Watford and the result was a lot more favourable, although by his own admission Mr B didn’t relax until Man City were at 5-0 with only about 20 minutes left to play. As somebody who knows relatively little about football I spent a lot of my time watching the crowd and pondering on what I have learned watching the FA Cup Final at Wembley.
Regular readers will know that I don’t really know much about football and I really wouldn’t call myself a fan but I have learned to love it more since I realised just how popular it is around the world. Realising that teenage lads in Ghana knew more about the Premier League than I did was a bit of a defining moment, and I wrote about it in this post about Football Confessions
Back to the FA Cup though and I found myself pondering what I had learned during our afternoon at Wembley.
Kick off might be at a set time but aim to be get there at least an hour before then. Be there, and in your seat, in plenty of time to watch the pre-match warm up. There is a huge amount of pomp and ceremony around the FA Cup Final and it is fascinating to watch the well oiled machine that is all the stuff that happens on the pitch but that you don’t necessarily see on the TV.
Go for a wee right after the National Anthem has been sung. It is about 6 minutes before kick off and there will be zero queue so you should have plenty of time
Pies are not really a thing anymore. Lots of fish and chips and gourmet burgers from what we saw, though to be far we were in the Club Wembley area of the stadium (where the tickets were only £25 more expensive than those on the lower terraces). Also lots of places to get a drink and the prices weren’t nearly as horrific as we thought they might be.
Hell you can even pour yourself your own beer (though you can’t take alcohol back to your seat as there are certain rules about not having alcohol within site of a football pitch.
Don’t be alarmed when you can smell burning at the start of the match. That is just left over from the fireworks at the start of the ceremony.
Women are much more vocal than the men surrounding them. And when I say vocal I mean sweary. Though they will turn around and apologise after their latest outburst.
If you miss something on the pitch, you have missed it. There is no replay. There is no pundit to give you their five pence worth or to explain what just happened. Therefore don’t be faffing about with your phone whilst your team’s ball is anywhere near the goal because it is highly likely you will then miss possibly THE most important goal of the season.
And you will miss bits, even if you are really paying attention, because the people in front of you WILL stand up, even when all the signs around the seats say to stay seated. You will also have to stand up and look through other people’s arms, and passed their heads. Yes it is frustrating but as the two guys in front said to the chap next to me who kept complaining “it’s the FA Cup, Mate, no we won’t sit down when they get near the goal”.
You WILL get home and have to watch it again (even if that means you have to miss Eurovision).
Unless your team have lost, in which case the game will NEVER be spoken about ever again.
If your team were the winning team though you will find yourself saying any variation of “Six, nil, hey?” / “I had a dream we thumped them yesterday” / “Can you believe we just won the FA Cup?” for at least four days.
As I said, I am not really a huge fan of football but being at an FA Cup Final is the stuff of bucket lists for many people and so it seemed churlish to turn down the opportunity to go when we offered the opportunity to buy tickets a few days before.
It really is the stuff of dreams, and not just for the players.