Thursday, 10 April 2014

"See you at Wembley Mr Slush!"

I could say I'm not going to Wembley this weekend on principle but I'd be lying...

Little did I know when watching Mark Herman's 'See You At Wembley Frankie Walsh'  for the first time in the 1980's that almost thirty years on I'd be acting out a very similar story-line to this Hull City-related film.
For as City approach only their second ever FA Cup semi-final (and first in my lifetime) I am prevented from attending by my very own double-booking in the calendar.   Admittedly, unlike the film it's not a wedding that's the cause of the problem but it is still a very important family-related matter.
Not that I realised this on the way out of the KC Stadium, having just seen the Tigers maul Sun'lan in the quarters.  As the first City supporters eagerly greeted news of avoiding Arsenal and presumably Man City in the semi-final draw, it was yet to dawn on me that my very attendance at said event was in doubt.
It was only when listening to the post-match local radio chat in the car on the way home that it hit me: the semi-finals were to be played over the weekend of 12th/13th April - a weekend we'd already set aside to take our eldest to Harry Potter World for her 11th birthday treat.  We would actually be in London that same weekend...but only for part of it!
Refusing to panic - yet - I consoled myself with two thoughts.  If the game was on the Saturday, with a late afternoon kick-off, in theory I could attend, for that part of the day was left free on our itinerary. Admittedly this may not go down too well with Mrs Slush but sometimes a price just has to be paid...
The second - and much less attractive - scenario was that even should I miss the game, I could at least be seen to be staying true to my principles; courtesy of my long-held objection to the staging of FA Cup semis at Wembley.
There was of course even a possible "third way"...which involved cancelling my daughter's treat and family trip to London and instead heading off to Wembley with the lads.  Had I opted for this course of action it's highly doubtful I'd be typing this piece now.
Therefore my hopes - slim as they were - rested solely with option one...
In effect this meant I was dependent on ITV Sport who had first choice of tie.  The signs weren't good. In a ratings-driven business, they would obviously want to avoid going head-to-head with Sky's Sunday Premier League coverage and, in my heart of hearts, I knew they were always going to go for the more "glamourous" tie - Arsenal v cup holders Wigan. Thus I already knew that my one glimmer was about to be blacked out.  and as with everything ITV football coverage-related, it was Adrian Chiles' fault!
The announcement was duly made: Hull City would play Sheffield United on Sunday 13th April at 4pm (later adjusted to 4.07pm to accommodate the Hillsborough memorial) and the game would be shown on BT Sport.  At about the same time I will be boarding our National Holidays coach for the return journey to Hull.  Oh Potter!
So as thousands of you set off in the hope (and expectation?) of watching Bruce's boys progress to a first ever FA Cup Final appearance, please spare a thought for someone whose last genuine hopes of seeing City at this stage semi-final were emphatically ended on a miserable afternoon at Wigan's Springfield Park some three decades back and who this time, instead of cheering the Tigers on, will be trying to look as excited as the two Slushettes (my daughters) on their tour of Hogwarts.
My only hope now is that City are successful on Sunday and sometime in-between Sunday and the 17th May, Adrian Chiles gets chance to apologise for his company's broadcasting faux pas by announcing: "See you at Wembley Mr Slush!"

And for those of you who still don't have a clue what the title relates to, here is Mark Herman's 1987 film, courtesy of those jolly nice chaps at Amber Nectar and their Tiger Tube channel...

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