What a game!
Trip Start Sep 16, 2010
4Trip End Sep 18, 2010
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Where I stayed
Park Inn Hotel
What a trip we've had! So cast your mind back to yesterday & let me tell you all about it.
Our day started at 2.30am, when we dragged ourselves out of bed after only 2ish hours sleep (don't ask, we don't know where the night before that went either!) & headed to the airport. Our flight was at 6.30am, so after checking in & heading through security we had just enough time to have a coffee & a croissant before going to the gate to board.
We met Emma at the gate (no Pete for this trip, he decided that it was too expensive & didn't come) and then the Stoneys rushed in for the flight as well. The flight was great (apparently, I slept, so don't really know), there were about 60 people on the plane so we were able to spread out
We all met up with Mike in the airport (Emma was staying in the same hotel as him). We had a quick catch up outside the airport, then parted ways to find our ways to our respective hotels.
The first thing we noticed about our hotel was the McDonalds attached to it. Classy joint! Inside the hotel, however, was a different story. It's feng shui'd to the hilt! Our room has virtually no sharp corners, everything that could have curved edges has curved edges. It's the first open-plan ensuite room we've had, the only doors in the room are for the toilet cubicle & the space pod-esque curved shower cubicle. And, to be honest, I love this room! The award for best piece of furniture in the hotel does have to go to the electrically adjustable beds. Both sides of the bed are independently adjustable, so we can both spend a good half hour finding the most comfortable position to sleep in, without having to worry about how comfortable the other is! Marvellous!
We had originally planned to have a shower, get changed and then go straight into Zurich before moving on to Wohlen around lunchtime
After 2 train journeys we had only a short 3rd train journey left. We got on our train, stood by the doors & waited to go. The doors started to close & up popped the Stoneys, rushing along the platform to get on our train. Somehow (I'm not sure how as we couldn't see the button to open the doors again) the door opened & on they got. We got off at Wohlen, walked out of the station, turned a corner & there were Mike, Emma & Linda sat at a bar (unsurprisingly!) having a beer. We joined them, the Stoneys went to find something to eat. We also saw Ellen White's parents there. Lisa had a quick chat to them before they headed off to the stadium. The German turned up after a little while. She had sent Lisa a text to say she was at the stadium, so we told her where we were & 20 minutes later our 5 had become a 6. We then, albeit briefly, became a 7 as Martin arrived. He too went to find something to eat, so we decided to head off to the stadium
Wohlen is quiet. Very quiet. It took us about 15 minutes to walk to the stadium. We met Pav at the main entrance. We were all chatting with Pav and discovered that it was Mike's 50th England cap this game! That then started us all off wanting to know how many England games we'd done. The current answer is we have no idea, but we will be working it out at some point. Our only claim that we know for definite is that Lisa & I are the only 2 fans to have been to every game in this qualification process, both home & away. Sir Trevor Brooking arrived for the game & said hello to us all. Then Mike, Emma, Linda & the German went into the stadium. We decided to have our pre-match smoke, so stayed talking to Pav. A small bundle of journos turned up, which included Jacqui Oatley & Tony Leighton, and they also paused to say hello & have a quick chat before heading off to the press area. And then it was time. Our pre-match routine was done & into the ground we went.
We entered the stadium & found our seats with the rest of the gang & waited (not patiently) for the game to start. We were in good voice, and we had the drum. This was everything we needed in the stands to make ourselves heard. The battle of the fans was underway & we were as determined to win as the girls were on the pitch
The line-up was the same for the Shrewsbury game: Safe Hands in goal, Alex, Faye, Casey, & Unitt in the back line, Fara, Jilly-bean, Nails & Eni in midfield & The Legend as the lone striker. The first 5 minutes are a bit of a blur for me. I remember fouls being committed & Eni having a shot on goal. But then Kelly goes down in the box & we get a penalty! This was surely our opening goal. Kelly stepped up to take the pen. The ref took her time making sure everyone was in place, and after what felt like an age she blew her whistle. Kelly made her run up and... she scuffed her shot. The ball bobbled wide. The Swiss fans cheered & chanted, we had our heads in our hands.
The Swiss were going in hard, continuing their hard tackle tactics of the first leg. It was a scrappy start, with free kicks galore being given away. Kelly, Eni and Fara all tried their luck. Safe Hands was called in to play & stopped the Swiss attack. Then Kelly, on the 32nd minute put the ball in the back of the net! Goal! We were 1-0 up, 3-0 on aggregate! Come on! This is what we wanted! Goals! We cheered, chanted & celebrated like only we can
And then came the 41st minute. Let's call it Black Minute. Ramona Bachmann scored. She then ran into the goal to get the ball back. Rach also went to pick up to ball. Bachmann then goes down like a sack of spuds clutching her face. I was watching this incident as it occurred. The ref was not. And neither (strangely) was the assistant referee, who was still stood by the corner flag waiting for the ball to be moved out of the net. Rach did NOTHING to this girl. Bachmann pushed Rach. Rach turned round. And Bachmann decided to cheat. Blatantly. The stand (there was only one) went crazy! The Swiss were shouting (presumably for a red card), we were shouting for the ref to talk to her assistant. The ref ran to the goal from somewhere around the halfway line & pulled out the red. We couldn't believe it. Sent off for nothing. Absolutely gutted. Rach has been my favourite player wearing an England shirt for as long as I have watched the girls play. I couldn't believe she had been sent off. Honestly, I was close to tears. What a ridiculous way for her campaign to end. We received messages from friends saying the replays had shown what we already knew
Siobhan Chamberlain came on in place of Eni. Fara had a shot on goal, Chamberlain made a save and the ref blew for half time.
Lisa, Sandra, Mike, the German & I went to smoke. We needed to. What a rollercoaster of a ride the first half was! We did our half time punditry and analysed the sending off. Lisa & I seemed to be the only 2 who actually saw the incident in our little smoking group, so we went through what we had seen. After the analysis, we tried to channel our nerves & disgust at Black Minute into something positive. Our girls came back onto the pitch & our chanting & singing started up again. Game on. The Swiss couldn't beat us with 11 players, and there was no way we were going to let them beat us with 10.
The second half kicked off, and the game picked up pretty much where it left off. Fouls, free kicks & the odd shot on goal. Then Kelly was brought down again, in the box. Another penalty! This time Fara stood over the spot & waited for the ball. We knew that this time there would be a goal! And we weren't wrong! Fara slotted it home! 3-1! No way the Swiss could come back now! We just had to hold on for the pride of a win. The Swiss kept on pressing. They weren't going to give up. But neither were we! Faye took down Bachmann about 30 yards out & a free kick was given. And what a free kick it was! Credit where credit's due, their second goal was a bit special. The Swiss kept on coming, but we were defending too well. Just before the 80th minute Jess Clarke came on, replacing Yanks. With her pace & lack of fear she was only going to cause the Swiss trouble. I started clock watching, not long until the end. Not long until we could celebrate going to Germany next year. We were all tense, waiting for the ref to blow the final whistle, almost waiting for confirmation of what we already knew, waiting for permission to celebrate. 10 minutes after Jess' introduction to the game & Kelly went off, the Goal Machine came on. There wasn't much time for Ellen to work her magic, but it's always good to see her on the pitch. Then there it was! The final whistle! We are going to Germany! We were singing, cheering & applauding our girls! The long & winding road to Germany had been conquered! We were there! The whole squad was on the pitch celebrating with us! I still can't quite put the feelings into words. Just absolutely amazing!
We all made our way out of the stadium & waited for the players to come out. We knew we weren't going back to the players' hotel to celebrate as our last train from Wohlen was around 11.30ish and their hotel was even further out of Zurich than that. (Also, the Stoneys had found out that a cab from Wohlen to Zurich would cost at least £100 & none of us could afford that!) So we wanted to congratulate & thank the players there & then. Lisa, Emma, Mike & I also wanted to get our shirts signed. We wouldn't be wearing them again since the new kit will be out next month, so what else could we do but get them signed by the Mighty Lioness?! Linda also wanted to get her programme signed. Slowly the players came out & all of them were over the moon at their achievement. They were all chatty & happy to sign our shirts and thanked us all for being there. Safe Hands came out and saw us. She was carrying her shirt in her hand. When we saw her in Shrewsbury she said she would give us her shirt after the second leg. She hadn't forgotten. She double checked that we still wanted it, even with the bad luck surrounding it. She also told us that if we wore it & the bad luck returned we couldn't blame her! Wear it? We weren't going to wear it! It was going on our wall in pride of place! She signed it & gave it to us and we were more than happy to take the unlucky shirt off her hands! We stayed around the ground chatting to players & each other. Lucy Ward came over & had a quick chat, so we got her to sign our shirts as well (for old time's sake), and she was more than happy to oblige. Then it was time for the girls to leave. Linda & the Stoneys headed off to the train station. Lisa, Emma, Mike, the German & I decided to wait & send off our girls in style. We applauded the team coach out of the ground, and saw them clapping & waving back. (Biggest wave came from Pav who was sitting on the bottom deck with all the FA people!)
This has to have been one of the best nights in our footballing days! An incredible game – 5 goals, a couple of yellow cards, a dramatic incident & a red card, resulting in a 3-2 win for the Mighty Lionesses & qualification to the Women's World Cup next year. Could we have had any more excitement?! Amazing!
The 5 of us headed back to the station, full of excitement and good cheer. We paused at the German's car to say goodbye to her & wish her safe journeys (she was driving back to Germany). Then we continued our stroll to the station & headed back to our hotel. The journey passed by very quickly, with plenty of banter and laughs going on between the four of us. We all got off at Zurich Hardbrucke and went our separate ways to our respective hotels. Unfortunately for us, we'd been up for over 20 hours & tired brains make silly mistakes. I misread the timetable & we got on a train that was going the wrong way! The 1st stop on the wrong train was Zurich's main train station, which looks very different for the smaller, more residential stations we were expecting to see. So off we got, hunted down a timetable and got on the right train to take us back to the hotel. We arrived safe and sound at about midnight, headed up to our room, spent a good 10 minutes or so finding comfortable positions for our own sides of the bed & then fell fast asleep.
More later on the not quite as exciting, but certainly more relaxing adventures from today.
Come on England! We Believe!
Sam & Lisa x