RAMBLE: Wednesday going to Wembley!

RAMBLE: Wednesday going to Wembley!

Before the first leg I wasn’t nervous.

Wednesday qualifying for the playoffs had been a great success in itself and anything that happened thereafter was a bonus.

Then we won 2-0.

What does that mean? Hope.

So by Monday I was so nervous I could barely eat, let alone think about anything else.

For that reason I don’t think I had the most productive morning at work but my midday Mark had picked me up and we were on our way to Brighton.

Even the choice of beer was a matter of superstition

Even the choice of beer was a matter of superstition

I was taking nothing for granted. I’d washed and dried the same clothes I was wearing on Friday so that I could wear them for the match and my beer choices for the car were determined by past results.

I’d drunk Punk IPA before the trip to Wolves so that was out and instead I was on Fuller’s Honey Dew, which we’d drunk before the win at Brentford.

As I was drinking said beer and we were getting closer to Brighton, the nerves seem to abate. All be equal, we had so many reasons to be optimistic, although we both agreed that we’d be up against a Brighton team with nothing to lose and for that reason, we thought Hutchinson would come in for Wallace.

Thankfully, we avoided the sort of traffic delays that led to the league game at the Amex being delayed and were approaching Brighton in good time, despite my questionable navigating skills.

Soon enough we were parked up and checked into the hotel, where James and Tom had been since Sunday.

'Oooooooowwwwwww much?!?

‘Oooooooowwwwwww much?!?

We head to the pub and I offer to get the first round. Four pints and a gin and tonic for Tom, which comes with cucumber (apparently that’s a gin thing) so I have a £20 note thinking I’d get change from it and was a little surprised that I needed more money! These were almost London prices (an omen for Wembley?).

Soon enough we were joined by Chris, Jordan, Jamie and his mate Steve who was a late replacement for Chris’ brother who couldn’t make it. More beer flowed and we were feeling better and the Brighton fans in the pub weren’t too confident either.

We were surprised to discover that we were playing the same side and Anthony Knockaert was fit for Brighton having been one of the four injured players on Friday.

Apparently there was some kind of disruption in trains to Brighton so we decide to aim for the 18:38, that would get us there nearly an hour before kick off but there’s a beer stall outside the ground that we can try, so all would be good.

Chris thinks that it’d be very busy in the Brighton station.

Surely not, who gets to a game an hour early?

Long wait at the train station

Long wait at the train station

We head into the station to find the mother of all queues to the trains.

Apparently Brighton fans get to games an hour early!

We were clearly not getting the intended train but the atmosphere in the queue was brilliant with some serious noise from the Wednesday fans.

We get to the front of the queue and we’re told we can wait 10 minutes for a train or get on a coach replacement now. We still had a good 45 minutes so we went for that option, in the hope there was a toilet on the coach!

We get on the coach. The toilet wasout of order and it didn’t leave for another 10 minutes. We were lied to!

The coach eventually leaves and everybody’s bladders are getting fuller and fuller! Then we hit a total standstill in fields. Some of the others persuaded the driver to let them off to relieve themselves and then got back on. But we’d barely moved and time was getting on. We were assured by Brighton fans that we weren’t far off and decide to go on foot.

So suddenly we found ourselves running alongside crawling traffic on a country lane.

Doing this after a few beers and a FULL bladder was quite a challenge! Chariots of Fire, eat your heart out!

Eventually we see ground and we’re in! We get to our sets just as the match kicked off.

THE MATCH

Brighton fans ramped up the atmosphere...with flags on sticks (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Brighton fans ramped up the atmosphere…with flags on sticks (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

We were catching our breath as Brighton were sprinting towards the Wednesday goal.

The onslaught in the first 15 minutes was something else.

We were not holding the ball at all in midfield and they were going hell for leather for the opening goal.

There were chances for James Wilson and Steve Sidwell. At point the ball was just pinging around the box: blocks and saves. We just needed to hang on.

Soon after they got a free kick outside the box. Please please, don’t be one of those that fly into the corner of the net.

Surprise inclusion Knockaert was a thorn in Wednesday’s side

Knockaert stepped up and it rebounds off the post! PHEW!

This is not slowing down and we’re not holding the ball AT ALL. Why oh why were we not playing Sam Hutchinson?

The referee wasn’t helping either and was punishing any kind of contact and before long both Tom Lees and Glenn Loovens were booked. I fear a second yellow and red card at that point.

All my worst fears were coming together.

If they got an early goal, they’d have the crowd behind them and a lot of time to get winning goals. One goal would get them in touch.

Then it happened.

Another free kick, this time in a wide position it beats everyone and is bolted in the Wednesday net and a ROAR from the hone end.

They all had these blue and white flags and it looked good.

SHIT. FUCK. SHIT. FUCKING. SHIT. This could be a disaster!

Lewis Dunk pokes Brighton ahead

Lewis Dunk pokes Brighton ahead

Maybe we can just get through at 1-0 at half time and start again?

Another Brighton goal before the break and they’d be favourites.

They knew it and didn’t stop.

Then we broke and the ball fell for Ross Wallace – who Mark and I agreed should’ve been dropped for Hutchinson – crossed for Hooper and it was missed by all and settled in the corner of the net!!!!!! 1-1 FROM NOWHERE

BEDLAM. Absolute BEDLAM ensued.

Amid the celebrations I saw the Brighton players surrounding the referee. Is it going to be like the Fessi goal on Friday?

Nope. The referee wasn’t interested and the game was restarted.

Ross Wallace restores the two-goal cushion

As much as were relieved and pumped, you could feel the goal sapped the energy and hope from Brighton. They were back to where they started. We just needed to see this out to half time.

The referee was also getting at our players constantly for time wasting. At times it was beyond harsh. Keiren Westwood had barely collected the ball before the referee was getting at him to hurry up.

The clock hit 45 and the referee gave FOUR minutes added on. Why?

There had been two goals, with quick turnarounds (Brighton hassling the referee aside), no subs and no injuries. Where has four minutes come from?

Right at the end of half time we brake, with Fessi wide and Gary Hooper in the box.

Iif he can find him, it could be game over…

He finds him … and a great save from David Stockdale.

HALF TIME: Brighton 1-1 WEDNESDAY (Agg: 1-3)

Wwe go down to the concourse to find Mark who was getting the beer in. Although we were surprised to find there weren’t many queues.

Brighton run a stadium well, even if it is in a silly place. We consume a pint and I find Pete who’d managed to get a ticket through Lee Peacock.

We were comparing famous players in the Wednesday end, which included Chris Waddle who was two rows in front of us. There was a also a rumour that Connor Wickham was about!

We got back to our seats as the players were out and the stadium announced that Alex Lopez was going off for Hutchinson.

Then ensued a very stressful 45 minutes in but in reality we had the tie won.

The energy they surged with in the opening throws of the game had gone. We had taken control of the game and tie.

The Wednesday fans knew it and with it a new promotion song sang over and over:

On our way!

On our way!

On our way, on our way

To the Premier League, we’re on our way

How do we get there? I don’t know

How do we get there? I don’t care

All I know is that Wednesday’s are on our way

A new song hadn’t caught like this since Carlos Had a Dream at Brentford.

I didn’t dare sing it though as long as the lead was two goals. It just takes on Brighton goal and we’re in trouble.

Atdhe Nuhiu and Helan were brought to see the game out. A wise move as Big Dave holds the ball so well and Helan is good defensively.

Once the clock hit 90 I knew it was there despite this time an inexplicable extra six minutes being added on. Soon enough the final whistle came.

FULL TIME: Brighton 1-1 WEDNESDAY (Agg: 1-3). WEDNESDAY GO THROUGH!

BEDLAM.

Absolutely mental BEDLAM.

YESSSSSSSS!!!

YESSSSSSSS!!!

We’d done it and the outpouring of emotion was amazing. There was nobody leaving early to beat the traffic or get that earlier train.

Then the players came over and celebrated with us for a good 10 minutes after the game.

Each player in turn had their song sang.

The connection between the fans, coaches and players is something that I’ve never known before.

We went back into the concourse that was still selling beer and the celebrations continued.

Echoed by ON OUR WAY it was like the chorus to the night.

This was a release of 16 years of frustration and heartache.

This culminated in a young steward joining in and finding himself soaked in beer and held aloft by celebrating Wednesdayites.

The party moved onto Brighton, which included a pub with Wednesday and Brighton, including Tango. We had a pint and then it was last orders.

There was one more pint in the hotel and then I felt I needed drunken food and sleep. I found some decent chicken and headed to my room to eat and dream of Wembley.

Sheffield Wednesday will return.

JP
OwlsAlive
E-Mail: owlsalive@gmail.com
Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @jpowls


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