The programme was £10, the match ticket was £70, the hotel room was £140 and the rail fare was £50 – and and that on top of the cost of every other round – though the cost of capitulating on the grandest of stages was so much more.
The money clubs have prized most of us out of silverware. Our chances to win that most famous of domestic trophies grows shorter each year. Arsenal’s 201415 transfer net spend was close to £65m. Ours was close to £9m – and the gulf grows. It occurred to me, at the current rate of spend, that I might be near 60 before I ever follow Villa to Wembley again, though I am nonetheless glad that I had this chance. If only the game hadn’t gotten in the way.
Watching the Arsenal was to watch a team in a mythical gear. Their foot speed, technique and accuracy were beyond a Villa side, prehistoric by comparison. Crumbling before the camera’s and a future king whilst the claret and blue faithful watched on. – and they are right in what they say: Wembley is no place for losers. After the third goal I just wanted it to be over. Aston Villa: destroyed under the arch. Not my dream; not yours.
A clutch of fans found the defeat too hard to take. Predictably, the verbal tirades began. Fans arguing amongst themselves. A brawl not far from us and then trouble at Kilburn Underground, with the line suspended. Too much alcohol, three years of hurt with the headline writers waiting in the wings. I wish it wasn’t like this.
Aston Villa move on. Some of the players who found their way onto the Wembley turf will never wear the Villa shirt again. Their last game. We only hope that the players who come this summer are worthy of our history, our name and worthy of us: the amazing fans who made Wembley their own.
To the future then.
Have a great summer.