I went on a road trip with Rich and Uncle Ken to Wembley to watch the ultimately disappointing display by England against Germany in a friendly match. I won’t go into a detailed match analysis – but we looked good for the first 20 mins, and why McClaren – in his infinite wisdom – moved Micah Richards from the right, left Beckham on, took Cole off etc etc etc I’ll never know.
The new stadium is stunning. We were in the “cheap seats” – right at the back in the corner, and the view is still tremendous, and put a bunch of like-minded club fans in there for a final, and I imagine the atmosphere would be exceptional due to the acoustics of the arena. Sadly, not being a particular nationalist, I’m not a huge fan of going to England matches really.
It’s a magnet for tubthumping nationalists – people who boo the opponent’s national anthem, people who shout “You killed my granddad!” at the German fans, people who – despite their self-confessed ‘bulldog spirit’ – don’t actually know the words to our own national anthem or jingoistic songs like ‘Rule Britannia’. People who put superfluous Y’s in ‘David’, and seemingly know f**k all about football.
“That was clarrrrssss Daaayyyyy-vid!” as another Beckham cross fails to beat the first man. *sigh* I don’t know if I’m becoming a bit of a snob, but there’s a fairly hefty moron-quotient amongst the average fanbase – certainly I’d say so at my own club – but go to an international game, particularly one against a side like Germany, and you can multiply that by ten.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of irrational banter – football thrives on it. I found the pathetically PC gestures like swapping signed shirts to “signify fan friendship” utterly mindboggling. The other concerning thing about new Wembley is it is an arena and an event designed with this new sanitised version of football built into the very fabric of it.
And yet the folks running the show, who desperately pleaded over the tannoy numerous times, didn’t seem to realise that playing almost exclusively ‘English’ music, putting on songs like Three Lions and Vindaloo, showing video montages of great England wins, constant references to 1966, really only encourages that kind of behaviour from the limited-braincell fraternity amongst the support.
The German fans, by contrast, did show a bit of class on the banter stakes – they chanted “You only sing when you’re winning” at us, in English, and also sang “Football’s coming home” too – whilst there’s the obvious advantage that English is widely spoken in nearly every country, can you imagine our fans having the wit to replicate in another country? No chance.
So yeah, fantastic stadium but some disappointments for me – I won’t be in a hurry to attend further England fixtures. Wembley also remains a fantastic bottle-neck to get out of. It took an hour for us to inch our way along Wembley way back to the tube station, by the time we reached the car in Watford it had been two hours since full time, then the genius who decided to close all but one lane on the M1 saw to it that it took us about two hours to travel about 5 miles.
The total journey home from full time to arrival? 6 hours. That rather takes the piss! I’m pleased I’ve visited the new stadium – but it really makes me hope all the more for automatic promotion for Forest – ’cause I don’t fancy a play off visit there! (Not that our record in playoff semi-finals makes that very likely anyway!).