The morning of the cup final, and we found ourselves with over 15 inches of snow in the driveway to contend with. But, as for so many others, the opportunity to see Wrexham run out at Wembley was unmissable despite the treacherous conditions.
We made for the Bridge End pub in Ruabon, where our coach awaited us. Any early nerves turned to amusement as while we were waiting the owner of the Indian next door broke his window as he attempted to clear snow off his window ledge! Not a great start to the day for him but hopefully better was in store for us…
As we navigated through the snow covered scenery, the mood was upbeat, and there was a strong sense of community in the air, often only stimulated by a sporting event such as this one.
Like the majority of the reported 86 coaches that drove down to Wembley, we stopped at Warwick services, which had become overrun by Wrexham fans.
There were scenes of utter bedlam as it took almost half-an-hour to get in and out of the service station. One can only imagine the bemusement of the other commuters present and hoping for a relaxing stop. There was, however, the light relief of seeing Dele Adebola, cup-tied for the final, helping himself to some refreshments at WH Smiths as he took the trip down.
On arrival at Wembley Stadium we were herded out and made our way to the imposing stadium. Wrexham.com split, some were fortunate enough to pick up a press pass, so promptly went to have a nose at the facilities on offer which were, as expected, fairly plush.
Some of us were lucky enough not to have to shell out £8 on a soggy burger and tasteless chips (pictured below, Rob was not happy!), those in the press lounge were treated to a gourmet meal consisting of sausage baps and bacon and bottomless supplies of tea and coffee. All for free!
As homely as the FA make the press feel, you can’t help feel that their hospitality is slightly insincere. Football is nothing without fans, and they should pay more attention to serving the 35,266 fans that forked out their hard-earned cash for a ticket than the comparatively low number of journalists and executives. That became all the more clear as we made the short walk over to the press box, truly the promised land and holy grail of any aspiring sports reporter.
As the teams emerged from the tunnel, with kick off looming, we found ourselves having to remind ourselves we were at Wembley. Sometimes the iconic nature of such landmarks can distort reality. But we were here, and we didn’t want to lose!
It was a see-saw first half but the mood was still relatively upbeat at half time. Grimsby’s goal in the second half was a kick in the gut, but Thornton’s penalty gave that moment of euphoria we were all craving – especially embodied by the boys from Borras adjacent to one of us.
Juggling the pressures of twitter (across 3 accounts no less), watching the match and reporting the match was challenging to say the least; but a monitor, broadcasting the match 12 seconds behind play proved extremely helpful!
Throughout extra time we ducked, dived, were on the edge of our seats and convinced ourselves we would lose if it came to penalties. Turns out we should have had more belief in the team, and when Johnny Hunt’s penalty hit the back of the net it was a special moment for all of us. All of the fans who were silent and studious in the first half were now, like us, jumping for joy.
Shortly after Andy Morrell hoisted the trophy above his head we made our way back to the coach, and as we looked back at the arch, now lit up, we started to reflect on what really was a historic occasion.
After a surreal beginning to the day, what with all the snow, when Johnny Hunt sunk the winning penalty it made it all worthwhile, particularly the jubilation in the press box and around the stadium that followed it.
It was an utter privilege to report on Wrexham’s first-ever appearance at Wembley. To be there was special, but to have such privileged access is a memory we will cherish forever.
Wrexham.com started covering Wrexham FC’s journey to Wembley back in November, here is a collection of our articles:
- Rushall Olympic Match Report
- Solihull Moors Match Report
- Gainsborough Trinity Report
- Gainsborough Trinity Second Leg Preview Thoughts – 90mins From Wembley!
- Ashton looks ahead to Wembley Final
- Momentum Builds Around Town
- The Wembley Final Match Report
- Morrells Post Match Thoughts – as he swigs from a can of Fosters!
- 149 Years In The Making – a reflective piece from James Dutton
- Town To Honour Cup Winners – at the time of writing there has yet to be a ‘homecoming’ but there are plans afoot!