20 November 2017   |  Last Updated 12-08-2014 03:31

      Monday 11, August 2014

      BLOG: A day at Wembley

      AFTER Sunday's Community Shield between Premier League champions Manchester City and FA Cup winners Arsenal, Quays News sports reporter Callum Matthews reminisces his day at Wembley.

       

      Seven seasons ago Manchester City only scored 10 league goals at home all season (including their failing to hit the net after the turn of the year); but the Blues are now Premier League champions and made their seventh Wembley appearance in the last three years on Sunday. How things have changed on the blue side of the Manchester.

       

      My boss at work always bemoans the fact that the low scoring Stuart Pearce season is the low-point in my City career; after all he has suffered the torture of Division Two football.

      However most of my City memories are fairly positive. My first ever game saw us defeat Barnsley 5-1 courtesy of a Darren Huckerby hat-trick at Maine Road. The victory saw us gain promotion back to the top flight because of Wolves' defeat on the Friday night.

      I remember the journey home was a sea of flags and scarves out of car windows and the beeping of horns was constant. It certainly enabled me to catch the City bug. There was no turning back after that moment.

      Obviously there have been times in the Premier League where the club haven’t exactly thrilled. But it’s easy to forget that the club could have been in Europe if Robbie Fowler had converted a last minute penalty against Middlesbrough in the last game of the 2004/05 season.

      A game made famous for the fact Pearce bought on sub goalkeeper Nicky Weaver for midfielder Claudio Reyna so David James could go up-front despite having £5 million striker Jon Macken on the bench.

      The club have very rarely flirted with the idea of relegation apart from the 2006/07 low scoring season. That’s great credit to old Chairman John Wardle who helped keep the club afloat when they were selling everything including the club shop.

      Fast forward eight years and the Citizens are the Champions and have won five trophies in the last four seasons.

      The journey down the M6 to the capital is becoming an all too familiar one for the devoted City faithful. Is Wembley starting to lose its charm? I suppose you could say it is, but I don’t think you’d find anyone who would change it for anything else.

      The club is one of the best run businesses in the world; and even though calling it a business makes me feel sick in the throat, it’s time to realise that football in the 21st century is a business.

      It was another early start and the coach was as lively as ever (after a stop on the hard shoulder because someone was locked in the toilet on the coach in front). There were a pair of fans who were fairly boisterous throughout the journey down, with chorus after chorus of ‘oh Pablo Zabaleta’.

      As has become the norm on these journeys the front of the coach were less than forthcoming and were succumbed to barrage after barrage of abuse particularly during the single man conga down the aisle.

      The coach driver however, came in for particular praise with ‘you’re the best coach driver in the world’ echoing around the bus; and cue the inevitable stalling to a chorus of jeers.

      When we arrived at the ground around 12:30pm, we were welcomed with spells of showers and sun.

       

      After the usual extravagant pre-match activities on the pitch the game eventually got going; although some of us may wish it never had.

      It’s hard to think what City gained from the game; apart from further evidence that Dedryck Boyata will never cut it at the top level.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if new signing Fernando was close to beating the Premier League record of 14 yellow cards in a season judging by what I saw.

      The fact that Mathieu Debuchy, Laurent Koscienly and Oliver Giroud were in their second or third game of pre-season for Arsenal left City fans wondering why Barcary Sagna who featured in the same French World Cup squad was again not considered for selection.

      It was a weird day out; the atmosphere never really got going because of the low attendance; admittedly mainly in the City end.

      Normally it would be easy to criticise the FA for out-pricing fans but on this occasion it would be hard to do that; then again the combination of City’s ever growing success costing more and more money, summer holidays and trains being cancelled no doubt contributed.

      We were soon back on the coach and were left waiting for stragglers for a good hour. In which time the boisterous pair got a warning about their behaviour on the return journey from the driver.

      The journey back up the M6 passed without much incident apart from someone throwing up in a plastic bag after one too many Jagermeisters earlier in the day.

      But what else would you want? It was a poor display and another expensive day but there is no better feeling in the world right now than being a City fan. Here’s to another successful season.

      By Callum Matthews

      (Twitter: @callumamatthews)

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