With Saturday fast approaching, I keep recalling more about my two previous trips to Wembley to support Town. The first in 1990 for Town against Sunderland and then in 1993 against Leicester City in the Play-Off Finals.
The 1990 Wembley final was just before my 9th birthday, so details are a bit sketchy. At the time I was in the Cubs. The Play-Off Final weekend coincided with our annual camp in Dorset, so I wasn’t going to be able to go to Wembley. A few days into the camp I started to feel unwell and sooner than I could wish to be leaving, my dad had driven down to pick me up.
Looking back I think I was wasn’t feeling great, but I was definitely putting it on, in an attempt to leave our tented village and go to Wembley. It worked out perfectly as the very next day, after a good night sleep, I was fine after all and off to the County Ground with my dad to get our tickets!
As for the match itself, I can’t remember much of any action. The things that stick in my mind was being excited about entering the ground then realising I was actually inside one of the twin towers, then coming out of the concourse, seeing the vast Wembley bowl in front of little me and realising how far I was up above the pitch. I’ve never seen so many people and I remember being fascinated by the actions and reactions of this immense crowd, more than the match itself.
After the final whistle when Ardiles, McLoughlin, Digby and co. were celebrating I just remember being held aloft on the shoulders of a Wembley steward to catch a glimpse of the team as they paraded the trophy.
So whilst any memories of the actual match action are long gone, what happened next was unforgettable I can remember everything of the aftermath, the gathering at Farringdon Road park and the march around the town centre to protest of the decision of the league. Only one good thing came out of the day protesting…. I found out I was allergic to red pace paint!
I can’t believe it’s now 20 years ago, how time has passed.
As for 1993, by now I was in the Scouts and as usual the Play-Off Final weekend again coincided with the camp, again in Dorset, Brownsea Island etc….. You’ll be aware of the Scouts moto “Be Prepared”, well this time we were, with a group of 15 Town fans in the scout group buying tickets before hand and heading up to Wembley in our minibus and with seats right behind the goal.
Nothing could prepare me and everyone else for the rollercoaster that was the Leicester game. Hoddle finishing off an excellent move to take Town one nil up just before half time. Going 3 nil up we all thought this was over but only for a resurgent Leicester to score 3 goals in 11 minutes to make it a nervy finish. Then for Paul Bodin to be the hero, calmly slotting home a penalty. Then cue the celebrations. We are up this time.. up where we belong!
After the game us Scouts headed back to Dorset. In doing so I missed out on the opportunity to meet Jimmy Greaves, who was parked close to my parents in the old multi storey at Wembley. Greavsie said it was one of the best games he’d ever seen and signed their programme.
Now this is my biggest regret and probably why I left the Scouts a year or two later, I missed the journey back to Swindon and passing all the Town fans on the bridges over the M4, and missed the victory parade a few days later. Gutted!!
Now it’s 2010, we are at Wembley again in the League One Play-Off Final versus Millwall. I’m not in the Scouts any more, so I’m not in Dorset this weekend. A few months ago, when these play-offs were a distant dream, I’d only gone and booked to take my fiancé and her parents to the Chelsea Flower Show on the 29th May!! After realising the League One game was going to be on Saturday thankfully I managed to get the tickets changed! See you all at Wembley!
I’ve scanned the Swindon sections from both Wembley programmes from the 1990 and 1993 games, including Jimmy Greaves’ autograph on the Leicester programme! Warning these are large files so they may take some time to download.