Wembley Stadium, London
Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final
Carlisle v Southampton
Sunday, March 28th, 2010, 1.30pm
By Glenn Aylett
1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):
Have never visited the old or new Wembley before and wanted to see if the ground was as good as people say. Also Carlisle were in a cup final, their first for 4 years and their first at Wembley for 13 years.
2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
Travelled by coach through the night, journey took 7 hours on deserted motorways. Ground quite close to the North Circular/A40/M40 so easy to get to. Parking good if you remember which stand number your coach is parked at. Some people travelled by car and for all the car parks weren't overflowing, apparently parking your car is very expensive at Wembley.
3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?
We had a breakfast buffet at a pub in Harrow before the match that caters for football fans. Very good value for a fiver and beer at £3 a pint OK considering this is London. Had three hours to kill before the game so had a wander down Wembley Way (burgers and pies can be very expensive, but souvenir stands reasonable).
We had a couple of pints in a sports bar near Wembley undgerground station with other Carlisle fans- pub was reserved for Carlisle fans. I do recommend that fans coming from the North reserve Peaches Bar for their breakfast as it is an all you can eat buffet and very reasonably priced. Also the Piri Piri Sports Bar on Wembley Way is quite good and serves bitter- important for Northern fans.
Southampton fans were generally friendly and there was no aggro between the fans even after we came out being beaten 4-1 by the Saints. Policing wasn't heavy handed at all, which helped. A lot of the comments between fans was just harmless banter and songs.
4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?
Absolutely stunning, the arch rises 400 feet above the stadium and stands out even more than the famous twin towers. You can see the arch from at least a mile away. If it rains, which it didn't as it was a sunny and quite warm day, the roof can be partly closed over the spectators. Also being in level 1 of the north stand we got to see everything and two massive video screens are useful. Apparently the design of the ground means even the cheap seats get to see everything, something that wasn't possible at the old ground. Nice touch are the escalators into the ground, which is helpful for tired legs.
5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..
Well it was a shame Carlisle, who were quite fancied and only five points behind Southampton in the league, were beaten 4-1 but as Southampton outnumbered us two to one for fans, it's possible the players became overawed somewhat and lost their confidence. However, nice to see 73,000 fans turn up for what is a minor final and for 24,000 to make the journey from Cumbria. Also Carlisle stand to make half a million for this which will help us for next season. Great atmosphere all the way through even if Carlisle were losing and we definitely made ourselves heard against the 48,000 Saints fans. Best thing was at the start when the fireworks and flame torches heralded the two teams on to the pitch and when giant Carlisle and Southampton banners came down from the roof.
As for the stewards and the facilities, the stewards were helpful and polite, something you don't often hear about Londoners. Also the layout of the ground with plenty of bars and toilets means overcrowding around the bars and toilets was avoided. Unlike what I've heard about the old Wembley, the toilets were very clean and modern and the ground was generally clean. However, like the old Wembley, beer and catering prices were very high: £ 4 was bad enough for a pint but £ 6.50 for some mean looking burger was too much. Luckily I'd eaten before the match.
6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
As we were one of the last coaches to leave, it wasn't too bad. Understandably the roads out of the ground were congested but once we got past the North Circular- most of the Southampton fans seemed to turn off here- the traffic thinned out and we cleared London in 45 minutes.
7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
Shame about the result, but I think everyone enjoyed it. A nice, sunny day made it all the more enjoyable and the new Wembley was definitely worth the money. I shall definitely be going again- as we're hoping next season Carlisle could really improve and get to a play off final.
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