Tuesday, May 8

We're going to Wem-ber-ley!

West Ham 3 Cardiff 0 (Play-off semi final)

There’s a conscious effort not to tell anyone that we’ll see them at Wembley as we leave Ken’s Café, just cryptic references to “north London”. My daughter Nell predicts that West Ham will win “infinity nil”, which would be a boost for the aggregate score.

There’s flags for sale on Green Street and a £4 souvenir programme, while the pre-match entertainment includes a Cockney Reject and a pumped-up Jeremy Nicholas. Cardiff have an early claim for a penalty as Reid tussles with Miller, though it would have been a harsh decision. After that it’s all claret and blue. Nerves are eased after 15 minutes. From a WHU corner Cole’s header is knocked on to Kevin Nolan who leaps to head home and do his clucking chicken celebration.

O’Neil hits the bar with a great side footed lob and then produces a good tip away from Marshall. He’s starting to become a consistent performer for the Irons and his experience is crucial today. On 40 minutes Demel plays a through ball that a Cardiff defender misses and Vaz Te wallops a great finish into the top corner. “Que sera sera,” echoes around the stadium. We’re starting to feel quietly confident with a 4-0 aggregate at half-time, though no-one dares check the Wembley ticket arrangements in the programme. Lola and Nell draw crossed hammers on their hands and Nell tattoos “Wembley” on her dad’s hand. We break out the Penguins.

Jack Collison goes off injured and on comes Henri Lansbury. Matt still manages to harangue Lansbury for some misplaced passes as we play out time, and then takes issue with the bloke behind who has said that we should get rid of McCartney.

Cue choruses of "Big Fat Frankie Lampard" and Ludek Miklosko" from the Bobby Moore Stand as we edge closer to the Wembley arch. In the last minute Lansbury, despite Matt’s rollicking, finds sub Nicky Maynard who fires home another great top corner finish. Nigel starts to dream of ordering a stretch limo from Kew Gardens and Fraser gets out his cigar box. . 

The whistle blows and the lads do a lap of honour to thank us for their support as Twist and Shout plays over the tannoy. For some reason there’s an inflatable shark in the Bobby Moore Stand.

We leave the East stand via the back of the Cardiff coaches and they’re regaled with a chorus of God Save the Queen and “five nil and a long way home!” plus some much ruder songs. It’s on to the Black Lion for a celebratory pint of Maldon Gold and play-off final ticket discussions. Five-nil on aggregate – it’s been almost relaxing. And as Nigel says, we’ve not lost a cup final at Wembley since 1923. Just as long as there’s no white horse or hoof marks on the touchline we’ll be fine.


Nicola Baird said...

This is great - and no loss at Wembley for years. although I think that might be a weasel way to look at big finals. wishing all hammers fans well.

Phil Nichols said...

2 fantastic results. Cardiff were absolutely dire over both legs, which goes to show how weak a divison the Championship is. Great performances from everyone - I agree I thought O'Neil was fantastic in both games. Ditto Reid & Tomkins. I dont think either lost one header. I slipped out before the lap of honour - it all felt a bit previous. Maybe I should I have just enjoyed it while I could!!!

Pete May said...

Yes, Birmingham would be much tougher, though Blackpool would suit us. Agree Tomkins and Reid were great - and we even played on the floor most of the time... Demel was solid too. Never seen West Ham in a comfortable semi final before.