Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe crazy tales of the Wembley pilgrims - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The crazy tales of the Wembley pilgrims - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The crazy tales of the Wembley pilgrims

Oh dear… I didn’t think I would be sat here on Tuesday afternoon writing about Wembley quite like this. It’s supposed to be an annual celebration of the Government’s greatest gift to football fans, but instead, it turned out to be the craziest 36 hours I could ever be involved in.   

Please, allow me to explain. Three years previous to now my beloved Scunthorpe made it to Wembley where they were beaten by Luton in the JPT final. Although the result wasn’t all that grand, the day was special and I fell in love with  that 7000 ton archway. So much so, I (and friends) vowed to make this pilgrimage every year from then on to support the team from furthest north.

It didn’t quite go according to plan last year. I’d booked a ticket on the Megabus for the wrong night and as we tried to board our carriage to the Promised Land and were promptly dismissed. Instead we painfully travelled to Carlisle with 8 Wembley tickets in our hands, stood in a social club with the bitterest of tastes in our mouths (and it wasn’t the lager).

So a new dawn, twelve months pass and Carlisle in some sort of blessing from the heavens give us that reprieve. We booked the tickets again (triple checking the times on this occasion) and we 8 pilgrims hit Newcastle on Saturday night for pre-Wembley day drinks; awaiting our 1.15am pick-up.

Sure enough, our chariot arrived and we were on our way this time… to Sheffield at least. Booted off the bus for excessive noise and chanting was to be frank, not a greatest feeling ever. 

Undeterred the pilgrims huddled up like a scene from Oliver Twist, contemplating our next move. Do we wait till the morning and go home, or do we hit the floor and prey to sanity for a miracle. The latter won and that miracle came when a brief moment of inspiration smacked us in the face like a can of Stella, A1 Castle Taxis! The fact it was 4.15am on a Sunday morning wasn’t a problem as the two cars pulled up alongside each other allah Hamilton and Button. Hop in! “We’re on our way… on our way….” Forty quid each to Luton Airport was the deal so long as we paid up front… who needs a Megabus?

A brief snooze on the way was just about the only sleep our eyes saw on Saturday/Sunday night but we soon found ourselves pulling up in Luton Airport. Promptly on to another bus, in near silence may I add, our trusty driver guided us to Brent Cross Shopping Centre where we could see that famous arch; a mere 5 minute walk away one of the pilgrims proclaimed. We can walk it… please note: if you’ve ever been to Wembley, it’s quite big. What can actually seem like a stones throw away is actually 5.2 miles. Thankfully we had a little bit of time to kill and a pit stop at some sort of Mexican bistro for a bacon bap was just what we needed.  


We made it to Wembley Way at about 11.00am, some 20 hours after we’d set off for Newcastle. The joy of the sun pounding down on us is something that will live for you forever as you bathe under Bobby Moore’s statue. Once in the ground, and in our seats, we’d really made it – our pilgrimage was complete. It was so complete in fact that the 8 of us spent the second half of the game staring at the back of our eye lids. I can think of worse places to sleep than in Wembley Stadium to be fair…

The final whistle went and we tubed it to Victoria where we had another 6 hours to kill before we attempted to get back on that Megabus and go home… thankfully we did make it, and with more memories than a retired philosopher, and we’re all looking forward to next year.

Simon Bourne

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