The day began bright and early for me, the alarm went off at 7.15, but I hadn't slept much thanks to the excitement of the day ahead, I was like a kid waiting for Santa Claus. A quick breakfast (two ham rolls) which was to prove the only food consumed all day!! and then to the hole in the wall for cash for the day. Petrol next. Then, scarves flying from the windows I left Nottingham about eight. Tuned to Radio Northampton just south of Leicester to hear of any news and heard Ian Atkins being interviewed he was surrounded by Japanese tourists apparently (presumably all looking for tickets) lost the RN signal just south of Toddington. I had arranged to stay with a cousin in Enfield and left the car there before getting the tube to Central London, a quick stop at Sportspages then to Crawford Street near Baker Street to the Turners Arms, a Shepherd Neame pub, a quick pint there before getting to the meeting pub for the allotted time. Arrived at the Beehive - no-one else there save a couple of locals, then a group of lads came in, friends of Emily Lomax's, then Gareth Kingston arrived and slowly but surely the pub filled with more Cobblers fans including Ian who had flown in from Saudi for the occasion! Several beers and photos before heading to Marylebone for the overland route to Wembley Stadium Station, arrived at the Swansea end of the ground, with Jacks all around, but fortunately the atmosphere was ok. Then to the front of the Stadium, to see the place awash in a sea of claret, time for a quick photo I think.
And then into the stadium itself, the place had been improved on the last time I'd been there, but there were the same old queues for the toilets. Decided against the overpriced food and drink and headed to my seat - and what a seat! Only five seats from the Royal Box!! (well the bit in front of the Royal Box anyway). I looked to my left and saw a sea of Claret, it brought a lump to my throat.
The pre-match entertainment just flew by, the teams had been on the pitch warming up and then returned to the dressing rooms ready for that magic moment to emerge from the tunnel, fireworks exploded as the teams came out, but I only had eyes for the lads in claret and white. It was actually happening - the Cobblers at Wembley!!
The anthems were sung, the Welsh anthem being roundly booed and whistled at, and no-one heard God Save The Queen until about the last two lines!! And so to the game, as Cobblers kicked off attacking the sparsely filled Swansea end of the ground, the Swans had the first meaningful attack, with Woody making a brilliant save from Heggs, but that was really the only scare the Cobblers had in the first half, and although allowing Molby space and time, it was a mistake from the fat Dane that almost gave the Cobblers the opening goal, he was dispossessed by Grayson who found himself in acres of space, and headed for goal, it was crying out for a Larry special but he slipped it out left to Parrish who beat the keeper only to see his goal bound shot cleared off the line. The Cobblers were soon to be denied the services of influential David Rennie, although I didn't see what happened to him. Dean Peer came on as Cobblers reverted to 4-4-2. Gayle was battling hard but Larry looked out of sorts. Christian Lee was showing one or two nice touches but the engine room of Parrish and Hunter were matching the Swans midfield tackle for tackle, only Molby stood out, and that as much to do with his size these days!!
Before we knew it, it was half-time, didn't see any half-time entertainment, I spent the time queuing for the toilets!! The second half started with the Swans in the ascendancy and Cobblers were almost inviting them onto them, but Razor and Sammo never looked unduly troubled. I looked up at the stadium clock, 60 minutes gone, could we withstand this pressure, the Swans fans were getting louder and our own following had lapsed into silence. Things were not looking too good at this stage.. Atkins decided to replace Gayle with Jason White, I was surprised, I thought it would be Larry that would go off. The pressure eased, Jason started making a nuisance of himself and the Cobblers were getting back into it, the crowd sensed it and the chant "Cobblers, Cobblers" started ringing round the famous old stadium. Another Cobblers attack, Swansea were living on their nerves now, expecting and waiting for extra-time. A Cobblers attack down the left, half cleared, it fell to Lee, he moved across the edge of the box looking for an opening, a lunge from a Swansea defender gave Cobblers a free kick on the edge. The ref had problems getting the wall back, but finally did so to his satisfaction, the Stadium clock had been showing 90 minutes for at least two minutes. Frain stepped up and shot but straight into an onrushing Swansea defender. Oh well, extra time I thought. The ref however decided to penalise the encroachment and ordered the kick retaken. The wall retreated, no-one encroached this time as Frain ran in, then time stopped.... the ball went at about one mile an hour into the left hand side of the net - HE'D SCORED!!!!!!! 1-0 we were going to win!! The final whistle went during the continuing celebrations over the goal. The Swansea end was stunned, but at that moment I only had eyes for the boys in Claret. Fairy tale stuff, centenary year, first time ever at Wembley and we were winners!!
The rest to be honest is a bit of a blur luckily I had my camera on hand to record the moments. Needless to say I celebrated in style, and had the hangover on Sunday to prove it - but that's another story.
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