16th May 2008
Play Off Final
Attendance: 42 511
Match day by Kirstie Bowden.
The journey up to Wembley was a tense and 'relatively' quiet affair. The regulars compared their tickets, with the Bowden's placement in row 13 causing a few raised eyebrows. As did my suggestion that Roberto would score the winner. Thankfully we arrived at Wembley earlier than the previous year and were able to wander around looking, no doubt, stressed. From a distance we saw Steve Perryman who came over and said hello. Then, strangely enough, at the Bobby Moore statue I bumped into Jamie Mackie. Referring to his shirt that I was wearing he stated "you'll get some stick wearing that", which I did, throughout the day!
Inside the ground the bag searcher was more interested in what the winning team would win than checking our bags. He was just a little bit confused, having never heard of League 2 or the Blue Square Premier! As the teams came out onto the pitch the area around me was showered in ticker tape (which my Mum had spent a week cutting up) and party popper cannons (5 of which I had expertly hidden in my bag). This ticker tape was generally loved, apart from the woman in front of us who ceremoniously removed her jacket and shook it off. Unluckily for her, Mum had enough to last 90 minutes, extra time and 2 weeks of penalties! The firework display that followed explained the high ticket price and covered the pitch in a smoky fog, conditions strangely reminiscent of Accrington some years previous.
Given everything that was riding on the game, it wasn't particularly enjoyable, although one moment stands out. Our seats in block 139 meant that when Rob was impersonating a windmill he was heading straight towards us. Not that I saw much of this at the time! I had saved my best nutcase celebration for last. Limbs were flailing, I was screaming, and Grecian was flying. However, being in the lead only served to increase stress levels and at half time I wanted to go home. I spent most of the second half staring at my watch.
When the board finally went up the tears started. We were so close that I stopped watching. After what seemed like an eternity the final whistle went and the celebrations (which were to last about a month in our household!) kicked off. The group hug, Elam's triple cartwheel, and my favourite, the cheer that Tiz got when he lifted the trophy are moments I will remember for ever.
Leaving the ground, in honour of our loyal sponsors Flybe I pretended to be an aeroplane. Grecian the Lion got in on the act and ended up on Ben Bradshaws head, whilst he was being interviewed by Mark Tyler. We stopped to wish some Cambridge fans luck, a poignant moment as some Morecombe fans had done the same to us in 2007. Back on the bus we ran through League 2 grounds, I announced that I would miss Ebbsfleet and Marge considered what to do with the non-league badges on her hat. Cheggers inadvertently nearly caused a pile up as his Ginsters slice was thrown out of the skylight by Mark - much like our Promotion, a moment that had been a long time coming! Without doubt, it had been the truly brilliant day that we had dreamed of... and here's to many more.