I’ve always made the best effort to follow my dreams and dive head first into my passions. One year ago tomorrow I did just that. Most of my friends had labelled me crackers for doing so but I was taking a lead on my own advice which had me plunging into week long mini break to the other side of the world to watch Liverpool in the League Cup Final at Wembley.
As a child some of my fondest memories were those late Saturday nights in May where I was allowed to stay up well past my normal bed time to watch the FA Cup final. And, as most small children do I dreamt many times of playing in a cup final at Wembley and scoring the winner in front of adoring Liverpool fans.
Unfortunately that dream never materialised which left only one other option available to a devoted red. And that was to jump on a plane, fly half way to the other side of the world and watch Liverpool win silverware at Wembley Stadium in London. The only problem being was that I didn’t have a ticket for the match.
Something that I have learnt in the past 13 years of travelling to England and Europe for football matches is that there is always a way to get your hands on a ticket. By chance, luck and sometimes even through the strangest circumstances I have managed to sort a ticket for some massive matches, often at face value!
With my good friend Syed offering a room to stay for my week in London it left me with the somewhat tricky task of getting my paws on a ticket.
My plan of attack for Wembley was simple. Instead of wandering around aimlessly looking for a tout or fan with a spare I grabbed a piece of cardboard at Syed’s house and wrote up a clever and cheeky request as pictured below.
My quest began early on the Sunday morning outside a pub in London which, by 10 am was packed full of fellow reds and Cardiff City fans. As my make shift sign was held aloft outside I witnessed the good and bad side of football fans. Some came up to congratulate me on my efforts and in the process I made some fantastic new friends that have been wonderful to me in my travels ever since. Sadly there was a small element of football fans, some, alleged Liverpool supporters who threw extravagant and obscene offers, some over £300 for a £50 ticket at me. Naturally I declined all the grossly over inflated offers from those who chose to take advantage and decided to try my luck later in the afternoon along Wembley way.
A quick trip on the tube line and I found myself on the hallowed path of Wembley way. The plan of attack was to stick to the one area and let the ticket come to me. As the thousands of supporters passed by on their way to the turn styles I received many thumbs up gestures, smiles and words of encouragement. My good friend from Adelaide, Will was also on hand to offer his generous support in my search for that elusive ticket. Together we bellowed ourselves hoarse to attract attention. Journalists and TV crews all showed interest in my journey and many were surprised that an Australian would be crazy enough to go to such lengths knowing I may not even get inside Wembley for the game.
In the process we met another girl from Australia who had paid up £300 for a ticket from a tout agency online that never arrived then only to buy another ticket outside the ground for £150 only to be refused entry for carrying a forged ticket.. I still wonder if she managed to get inside for the match and dearly hope she did after being conned out of £450.
With time fast running out Will and I held our nerve in hope that an elusive ticket would turn up. As the clock reached 15 minutes to kick off my luck took a turn for the better. Walking past and noticing my sign a Cardiff City supporter came up and offered me his ticket for less than face value. We have to remember here that a Wembley cup final is a once in a blue moon chance for football supporters. Some teams will never make it to England’s hallowed turf and here was a kind and very generous Cardiff City supporter who had offered his ticket to me in my hour of need. I will always remember that beautiful moment shared with that unknown man from Wales.
So in was in for me. It meant standing in the Cardiff end but I just didn’t care. I was in Wembley Stadium. “The” Wembley Stadium in London watching my heroes playing in a cup final. As we all know Liverpool went on to win the match after penalties however the result was never going to matter in some respects.
For me it was the journey from Australia to England and the wonderful people who went out of their way to help me in my moment of need. This is why I love football and also why I am lucky to have the friends I do.
If you don’t follow your dreams and believe in your passions then you will always be left wondering about the what ifs? When you want something in life then get out there and grab it with both hands!