Oh the perils of being an expat football fan.
When your team makes a Wembley final, do you go, or not?
Like there was ever any doubt!
Being a Northampton Town fan, you soon learn to savour the big occasions, as they don’t come along that often. In the club’s 116-year history this was just the third time they would walk out at the national stadium. Despite the huge cost (thousands of kroner for flights back to England) at a time when I’m slashing spending to kick-off my freelance career, it was a no-brainer. I would be at the League Two Play-Off Final!
The build-up was different to the previous Wembley games, for me at least. It was more about the novelty of international travel to see a football match, an unexpected family reunion, and a weekend away in London. It was only when I read Alan Carr’s tweet (his Dad used to be Northampton Town manager) that I began to remember there was a football match on – and I was nervous as hell!
Those nerves doubled – but so did the excitement – when leaving Wembley Park tube station. To any football fan, young or old, the sight of Wembley as you emerge from the station is indescribable. Whatever your age, you become a little kid again – for that split-second!
Walking along Wembley Way remains one of those things that only fellow football fans can appreciate – it just has to be done. The sights, the sounds, the friendly banter with the opposition fans, the sheer anticipation is wonderful.
The excitement didn’t last long, as we conceded three goals within the first 28 minutes. Game over. Bradford City dominated the game from start to finish and thoroughly deserved the win – and promotion. No complaints from me.
I stayed behind to applaud the team, after all, it’s not like I’m good enough to ever play at Wembley. It was the culmination of a remarkable season, considering last year we were battling to stay in the Football League. Having lived in Norway for the past two years I haven’t seen a Cobblers game for ages – so my applause was for the season.
Sure I was gutted about the result, but I couldn’t be too upset. I haven’t seen a game in years, and I enjoyed the weekend in London regardless. My thanks to Chris, Ben and Alex for putting me up for the weekend – and cheering me up after the game. Most importantly of all, I got to catch up with family – my dad, two brothers, one brother’s girlfriend, an uncle and a cousin – and some old friends from my home village who I haven’t seen in years.
Despite the money and the greed – football still has the power to bring people together
My Facebook status after the game sums up my feelings:
“It took two flights to get here and hundreds of pounds, all to watch a gutless performance on the big stage. But you know what, I’d do it all again tomorrow. Because this is why we love football. UTC. FTP.”