top of page
Search

The Final Day

‘Fuck it’, I said to myself; ‘I’ll get a pie too’.


There’s something about being on the concourse when the game is on. Fear, mostly. I’ve missed more goals this season heading for the toilet ‘quickly’ whilst Martial gets treatment. You know that awkward run/walk you do crossing a road? That’s the primary mode of movement at that time. It’s not where you want to be at all, but there’s also opportunity in it. That bottle of water you ran in to grab? Believe it or not, there’s no queue, which opens up the possibility of getting something integral out of the way – food. ‘Give me a pie too actually, please’, I say to the Wembley cashier in the 32nd minute of the final game of the season.


I was whipping out the phone to pay when I heard a roar – I spin around and I see the few in the concourse running for the nearest sight of the pitch.


‘Authorising…….’ ‘Christ, hurry up!’, I thought to myself.


Authorised.


Pie(s) in hands and I sprint for my block. VAR check – possible handball. No way. I run to my seat – the pies break and spill all over my lovely white t-shirt in the frantic rush. The whistle blows – VAR check complete: penalty. Get fucking in. I jump around my row – wait – this isn’t my row, I was Row 17, this is 18. I left the row to run to the next one down. ‘Sorry mate, sorry, apologies’. Wait – this isn’t my seat either – “this is the wrong fucking block!”, I announce aloud to myself. “Well, you may stick about for a moment mate!”, rang the stranger in the seat beside me, sounding like a friend. Bruno put the ball on the spot…. And slotted it. Bliss. I embrace my new friends in the block beside the one I’m supposed to be in, and once the dust settles, I grab my pies, say “good luck folks” and take off into the correct block. The Benny Hill music surely is going off in someone’s head here.


I get to my actual seat – “you missed it!!”, my girlfriend says. “Ha, I didn’t”, I reply.

Let’s rewind a bit to three weeks ahead of kick off. ‘MUFC Ticketing’ has a debit out of my account. It’s good news – my application for the Cup Final was successful. It should have never been in doubt, but by God, you tell yourself FOR SURE you’re the 0.1% that gets shafted. The WhatsApp groups start pinging with the usual questions. ‘What block are you?’ ‘109’, I say. ‘How are you getting down?’ ‘Oh, I’ve the train sorted already, would you believe’, I smugly reply, exactly 24 hours before train strikes are announced for the day of the game. Power to them, but this represents our first challenge – there’s nearly always a challenge.


A quick investigation shows we can travel by train the evening before. No worries – we’ll book an extra night in the hotel. It will be even better to wake up in the capital. That was easy, wasn’t it? Wrong. Two weeks later the strikes extend to the Friday too, and our challenge becomes even trickier. My smugness on the rail travel meant all the supporter buses were booked, which resulted in having to take the 5-hour regular bus from Manchester to London. How bad can it be?


The day of travel comes and a two-hour delay for a five-hour journey meant it was very fucking bad. But look, who cares. The Cup Final is tomorrow. All our mates are there. The weathers good, and this pain is temporary. How in God’s name am I going to sleep tonight?

The alarm goes off at 7:30am. Despite everything, part of me wants to say fuck the game’ and go back to sleep. Ever feel like that? Anyway, excitement launches, and we set off to meet our mates for what you hope to be a day you’ll speak about forever. “We’ll just head straight to the pub at this rate – it’s early, surely we’d actually get a table at this time”, I say. Wrong; the pub is packed when we get there. Usual lark – songs, pints, laughs on Cup Final day. This is the good shit. Everyone’s excited and nervous in equal measure. Time goes by twice as quick.


1:30pm arrives and it’s time to make the journey toward the Wembley arch. A ‘Julia Roberts is a Red’ flag flaps in the wind ahead of me. You’re fucking right she is. How can we lose today? Yes, on paper, we need a lot to do it, but something tells me we just might, you know.


We get to the ground, scramble in, and I take my seat after a final AGM outside the block over a rotten pale ale, as the beer queues were too long. The whistle blows, and the game commences. Let’s go.

I looked about at the final whistle, and whilst naturally there were a number that had left, there was also a significant amount that stuck about to show their appreciation for the players. It’s a weird feeling, ending the season with a loss like that. Heartbreak mostly, but also pride in the team, the club, on a good year.


As I watch the players clap solemnly toward our end for what will be the final time in 2022/23, I think back through the good times this season. Liverpool at home. City at home. The European trips away. I don’t think of the stinking bus rides, the hotel keys lost or the poor losses. I think of the great times with good mates who broke their back and bank accounts to make the trip. I think of the moments in my block at Old Trafford amongst what feels like a mini community. You share more memories with those people than you would some of your best friends and you might not even know their names. It doesn’t matter.


The result on the final day wasn’t what we wanted, but this is football, in all its glory – for the good and the bad. The thousands out of your account. The travel headaches. The sunburn in 17 degrees. The beers, the hazy nights, Christ the hazy nights. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


I’m skint, but this is everything I’ve ever wanted.


Roll on next year to do it all again.


Recent Posts

See All

Comments


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page