It’s The Hope He Can At Last Stand: Nic’s Wembley reflections

One that was made earlier. Nic, left, with Claire, from outside the Fulwell
One that was made earlier. Nic, left, with Claire, from outside the Fulwell

Nic Wiseman was co-creator and co-editor of the short-lived, much-missed SAFC fanzine It’s The Hope I Can’t Stand. Like Monsieur Salut, he went from having no ticket to being able to help others and wishing he could help more still. This was his day

For me, yesterday was a massive dose
of re-affection for the club, its fans and being a Sunderland supporter.

I met up with old faces, some I hadn’t seen for 10 years.

The day started in Waterloo, SE London, in an old fire station that has been converted into a pub. This was the designated meeting place for our group which consisted of Mark Egan, Neil Chandler, David, “Chalkie” Dawson, Pete Bailie and Neil Young.

It was chosen solely for the fact it was the only pub in the area which opened at 11 on a Sunday morning. Inevitably we were early and whilst waiting for the doors to open, we took a group picture and tweeted it saying we were waiting for the pub to open. An important detail, as later on followers, who I hadn’t seen for years, saw it and took a punt that we’d be there after the match showed up then and we got reacquainted.

We spent an hour in the pub, I wasn’t allowed to buy any drinks, as I’d managed to secure four tickets which we didn’t have to pay for. Anyway, I think four pints were consumed in that hour. There’s something about drinking pre-noon that doesn’t seem to get you drunk, or at least that’s how it seems to me at the time. There were a few City supporters in the pub, but they were a bit anti-social, turning the place into a singing joint, scaring the ordinary punter.

We took the Jubilee line at Waterloo for a perfectly pleasant journey to Wembley Park and arrived at about 12.30. Walking up Wembley Way was a great people watching exercise. As part of my agreement with my ticket supplier, we had to take pictures of branding up Wembley Way and note all that kind of stuff. We also had to take a look at robot keeper, and snaffled some free gloves into the bargain. Apart from the odd hotdog stall, it seemed exclusively to be branded by the competition sponsors, Capital One.

We entered the ground at entrance B, went to the loo and attempted to buy some beer. Neil wanted to buy 4 pints (2 each) but the pumps had run out and it was taking ages, so we had to make do with one each (probably a good thing at £4.90 a pint).

We found our seats, which were 5 rows from the pitch midway between the 18 yard line and halfway line on the right hand side of the side we were defending in the first half. Brilliant seats. I got some good pics of the players with my camera phone. Our phalanx of support was a wall of noise to our right. Amazing pics were taken of them too.

The stadium was almost exclusively branded with Capital One, save a few small Sky Sports ads which appeared on the pitch side hoardings occasionally.

Mick Goulding's view
Mick Goulding’s view

The first half was the best I had seen a Sunderland side play at Wembley in my five visits. Everyone harried and hassled and Man City didn’t have a chance. Scoring the goal on ten minutes was immense. Borini took it so well.

We controlled the rest of the first half without City worrying us unduely.

Half time was spent spotting the team of 73 who were all sat together in seats not far from us. Chalkie even went to have a word with Ron Guthrie.

The second half saw City step it up a gear and in 100 mental seconds the game turned around. Could Ki have pressed Toure prior to his wonder goal? Could Mannone have done better with it? Who knows. (no, thinks M Salut, though he might have done better with the third)

After that we had a couple of chances to equalise, none more so that Fletcher’s on 85 minutes.

Overall I thought the team were great and save a couple of moments of brilliance we were equal to City.

Our fans, though, were a different class. Everyone stayed til the end to applaud the team. We sneaked out just after City was presented with the trophy.

A surprisingly painless trip back to Waterloo saw us ensconced back in the Fire Station, to be joined by one-time Blackcat (e-mail list subscriber) Stuart Cowley, who had seen my morning tweet and took a chance that we’d be back after the game. How predictable we are!

I had a great day, my support of Sunderland reaffirmed and can’t wait to do it again in a month …

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1 thought on “It’s The Hope He Can At Last Stand: Nic’s Wembley reflections”

  1. We lost 3-1 at Wembley and yet our fans had a wonderful day out. It belies the nonsense that Doubtfire was spouting about our supporters having false expectations to see so many people having a great weekend when it ended in a defeat yet again at the national stadium.

    This was a great article which for me just captured what so many other people have been saying in their own accounts of the special day. I genuinely don’t believe that supporters of any other club would behave so impeccably, and revel in losing such an important game. We don’t get much in the north east but we appreciate anything good that comes our way, making the most of it all. With football, as it is with life. Our team and our manager gave us something to be proud of on Sunday even though we lost, but it’s our fellow fans who make me proudest of all.

    Thanks for sharing your day with us all Nic. Salut!

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