I have to admit I was excited at the prospect of going to the home of football; I’d been to the old Wembley but that was back in 1986 and the result is one I’ve forgotten.
On the tube on the way there I saw about 10 Ukraine fans who were in high spirits and looking forward to the game. They chatted with England fans and were surprised to hear that most England fans thought they’d win with not much of a problem; I myself thought England would win by two clear goals.
The game kicked off at eight and me and my beautiful girlfriend got out of the station just after seven. She’s been to internationals loads of times and knew the route to take. I have to admit the arch looked great as we walked up Wembley way.
England and Ukraine fans were mixing with no problems at all but not only that, fans wore club colours and there wasn’t any rivalry; all they wanted to see was an England win.
There’s a lovely statue of Bobby Moore and I did the tourist thing and had my picture taken beside it before going into the ground. The only way to describe the atmosphere around the bar area was ‘tense’, after buying a couple of beers I wasn’t sure if it was about the game or the prices they charged.
The stewards were polite and helpful and as I walked through the small tunnel to the main stadium my breath was taken away. It looked fabulous; a lot bigger than I’m used to! It felt as if I was inside despite the fact the roof was open; the multi-coloured fans just added to the occasion.
The one thing I’ve not heard before is a small band playing in the ground and I have to say it made it more of a party.
The national anthems were played and at each end of the ground the Saint Georges flags were made by the crowd and it looked just superb.
From the first minute till the last the atmosphere was totally different from a club game; that’s where the band came in.
The first half an hour was very much both sides testing each other out; then Ukraine scored a great goal. It has to be said it was against the run of play.
England kept going till the half time whistle but the Ukrainians held on to their lead. A penalty shoot out at half time was followed up with a nice surprise; some of Team GB were introduced to the crowd as they walked onto the hallowed turf.
I thought maybe if some of their spirit and luck could rub off onto the England players then it would be a great second half. It was a wonderful surprise I have to say.
The second half started in much the same fashion as the first; the only difference being the Ukrainians were going down like flies and most had been tackled by the grass or air.
England had a good appeal for a penalty turned down after just skimming the post. I have to say I thought it was just going to be one of those nights. When the penalty for handball was given; Lampard made no mistake from the spot. It was the very least England deserved.
The man of the match was originally given to Gerrard which the crowd cheered but after a mix up was given to Lampard of which I heard booing; I couldn’t help but laugh.
My verdict: The International football experience is very different from club football but one I’d like to try again.
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