It’s going to be a tough day, the day Cowes get to Wembley. Pretty much the whole day – or the whole weekend in fact – I’m going to want to be in about four places at once. For starters, there’s the journey up. I’d very much like to travel up the day before to meet up with the exiled Yachtsmen from around the country who would be heading to the game, for a night out in London and a good catch-up. Scaff and Perri from Lincoln, Justin and Emma from Brid, Sterio from Manchester, Andy from Glasgow and most likely a good few others too. We could then make an early start the next day to make sure we made the most of it all, doubtless a little hungover but undiminished in spirit nonetheless.
But then I’d also want to be getting the train up the morning of the game with the regular (or not so regular these days) away-day crew. Travelling by train is always the best way to do n away match, I’ve thought this for years. Quick pint or two with the mixed crowd of supporters from all clubs at the famously neutral Hole In The Wall at Waterloo, then onto the tube and up to Baker Street and a few more pubs before the Metropolitan Line to Wembley and that most famous of walks up to the stadium. But then I’m going to want to be on one of the club coaches going up too, surrounded by all the familiar faces from Westwood – the regulars in the stand and all the behind-the-scenes ladies and gents too, you know, the ones who never usually get to see much (or any) of the game but who would finally be getting their reward for years of tireless and uncomplaining service (and Alan too). Plenty of songs on the way up, sneaky pint at Fleet services, then the excitement as we head into London and catch our first glimpses of the stadium.
And that’s just getting there.
Once inside the stadium of course I’d want to be (again) with all the club family who would doubtless be in the posh seats around the royal box and behind the team bench – this would be the best spec and the closest thing to being in our regular spot up the back of the stand. Of course, I’d also want to be jumping around with the loons (and the rest of the Island daytrippers along for the day out) behind the goal, singing myself hoarse and finally getting the Cowes flags up in a decent spot after years of hanging them in ramshackle shelters across the south of England.
But then it’d be too good an opportunity to miss being pitchside, taking photos or videoing the game and getting to mooch around behind the scenes and soak up a bit of the glamour and history that usually only the so-called ‘elite’ of our game get to see.
Afterwards? Well, it would be the same set of quandaries as before the game, although here I’d probably have to plump for the club coach back down south, hopefully celebrating all the way with team, officials and fellow supporters alike, but win or lose enjoying some reflection on doubtless the greatest day in our history.
So many decisions, I’m not sure I’ll be able to cope, although I’m sure I’ll find a way. It’s nice to dream, but then, you never know… Enjoy the game.