I’m not doing that again, I feel like I’ve been put through a ringer. I’m not that much of a football supporter, in fact it’s fair to say I’m not a football supporter at all. I will watch major championships but don’t usually care where England finish – it’s more about the whole event however I did get rather involved in the game yesterday and I’m wishing I didn’t. To recap, we had tickets to watch Mexico vs Senegal at Wembley Stadium as part of the Olympic Games. It was my first time at Wembley (I had been to the Indoor Arena decades ago to see the Harlem Globe Trotters in a performance match but never to the main stadium) which was as much a draw as the game itself. Entry into the stadium was tightly controlled but that didn’t mean we had to queue and queue, far from it, and once inside I was struck by the space, even with so many people milling around. One continuous concourse, the inside was full of food stands, which all seemed to be serving the same comestibles, no wonder there weren’t any queues. With plenty of time on our hands, having followed the guidelines as to how long entry would take, we decided to do a lap of the stadium along the concourse. Looking through the entrance points into the stadium, the interior didn’t look particularly large though we were only gauging this on the size of the standard football pitch we’re used to seeing at the local 26,000 seater stadium and the bit of seating we could see, however nipping down one of these tunnels so we could see the whole of the inside, it was immediately obvious how big Wembley is – it is the second largest in Europe after all.
Going into the match, I hadn’t been favouring either team but when I caught sight of the Senegalese team they did seem the stronger of the two and the crowd appeared to have the same thoughts as the cheers for them were much louder than for the Mexican team. Sitting behind the Senegal goal, most of the action in the first half was at the far end, but despite this Mexico managed to put two goals past the keeper much to our chagrin. Second half came and unlike other games I have been to, where the team lose heart and so all the action which was at the far end in the first half remains there in the second half, the Senegal team were still on a charge. We were rewarded with two goals by Senegal, two great goals, for our love and devotion in the first half and so with 90 minutes (plus an additional 4 minutes for stoppages) we had a tie. In such cases, the teams play two fifteen minutes of extra time which then goes to penalties if the scores are still level. I wish they had remained equally tied with the way the further two goals from Mexico came. Silly, silly mistakes by goalkeeper and defenders ended Senegals’ hope of progressing further – one where the defender was passing the ball back to the keeper only to watch as two Mexican strikers zipped past him and planted the ball in the net. The second one was as silly (hence repeating myself earlier) with the goal keeper coming far too far out of his area that when the ball sailed over him, and a Mexican player zip past him in a blur of green, we knew we would be catching the next train home… well, depending how long it would take to get through the 80,000+ crowd. Much to our surprise, it didn’t take us as long as we thought it would, and within ten minutes we were on the train home exhausted both physically and emotionally. I’m just glad I don’t have to do that again soon… oh hang on, we’ve got Men’s Hockey on Tuesday and another football match (for the Bronze medal) on Friday.. damn, I’m going to be an emotional wreck by then!