Friday, 4 April 2008

Fever Pitch

FA Cup semi final weekend is here and I am quite excited. Actually, that is a real understatement. I'm not sure if I can contain myself. The tickets for the Sunday game between Cardiff City and Barnsley (as if I needed to tell you who was playing) arrived this morning. They actually arrived yesterday morning but needed a signature so they were lovingly looked after, fed and watered and tucked up in bed for the night, by the kind custodians down at the Chertsey Post Office. Ready for me to pick up this morning.

More good news yesterday arrived in the form of an announcement that the planned tube strike has been called off. I was cursing when I heard that a strike had been called to start at 6:30pm on Sunday evening, just over half an hour after the end of the game. The thought of over 80,000 fans trying to get away from the new stadium with no tube trains running does not bear thinking about. It would have been chaos. So the news that talks between the RMT union and London Underground had led to an amicable agreement were celebrated in this part of Surrey.

The planning to get to Wembley from this part of Surrey has not been as straightforward as I would have expected. Door to door from KT16 to HA9 is only about twenty miles but the number of choices for mode of transport on Sunday is quite bewildering. Car, train, tube, bus, boat, foot. Any combination of those. Whether the tube strike was on or off had a huge bearing on the intended route to take but after an evening of surfing the Internet and looking at car parking possibilities, tube routes and train timetables (I lead such an exciting life) I finally have a plan. A quick car journey to a tube station at the end of the Metropolitan line and then a few stops down to Wembley Park and a stroll along the Olympic Way to Wembley Stadium. Bob is your mother's brother.

This final planning for the trip on Sunday has heightened the sense of excitement. I thought that I was excited, but for Cardiff City fans the level of furor has reached fever pitch. Following the obvious anxious wait for tickets to land on the door mats of homes around the Welsh capital, or the five hour long queuing at the Ninian Park ticket office, the excitement levels amongst the Bluebirds' supporters have been escalating all week. Almost to a point of hysteria, I'm not sure if some will make it to the big day without bursting.

For Cardiff City fans, there is only one topic of conversation. What time to leave Cardiff? Which is the best route? Whether to stay over Saturday night or make a weekend of it? Where to meet before the game? Which shirt to wear - home blue or away black? And some more bizarre deliberations. Which socks to wear? What toast to eat on the morning of the game, brown bread or white? Or whether there has ever been a Cardiff streaker at Wembley? No doubt such matters of importance are also being discussed in South Yorkshire.

For me, I have the small matter of a Football League Two game at Wycombe Wanderers to take in on Saturday. A nice trip out into the Buckinghamshire countryside for a pub lunch and then down to Adams Park. That should keep my own feet on the ground ahead of the big one on Sunday. However, a colleague at work pointed out to me that I should, on a clear day, be able to see the Wembley arch from the high ground that surrounds Adams Park.

If that is the case, I can foresee only one outcome. I will probably faint.

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