'It meant the world to me'
It is now almost a month ago since we won the FA cup, but the day will forever be etched into my mind with the events leading up to it as clear now as they were then - with this likely to remain the case forever more, but seeing Pompey play in the FA cup final, let alone winning the FA cup meant even more to me because of I was able to share it with my brother - something that quite possibly could, some might tell you should have been quite different...
I slept like a baby the night before the cup final, no sign of nerves at all and in all honesty although I did not expect us to win, I was confident that we would. My brother, Steve - the boyfriend of one of my cousins - and I all set off to Saunders' house just down the road along Medina Road, Cosham. His old man dropped us all down to another Cousin's house, Paul, where he, his girlfriend Lynne and Adrian were waiting.
We strolled down to Fratton and awaited our call for the coach, some real crappy ones were going by and then some crackers - hopefully we would get one of these, not that it really mattered... but as it happens we did, a mighty green beast! The coach was quiet, a few towards the back were quite vocal - to be honest I was just focusing on the task in hand.
On the way up I got a phone call 'do you reckon you could get hold of a couple of tickets?' If Westwood could not help out - as he could not, then I would have been very surprised if I could, so I sent off some texts but all came back fruitless.
The nerves that I was not feeling - although in all honesty they kicked in a little that morning when I got up - suddenly kicked in big time when Wembley Stadium came into view, suddenly I was petrified! I was always telling myself that 'it had sunk in that we were going to the cup final' but I do not really think it had until that moment. Seeing the Wembley Arch brought it home, and the thought that we 'could' win the FA cup made me feel very emotional, but also very nervous as I think the thought that we could lose also kicked in...
Plans of meeting people at the pub went out of the window - the coach was slightly later arriving than planned, and as I wanted to get into the Stadium to soak it all up early it meant this had to be skipped, so after eventually passing some tickets onto my sister and her boyfriend by the Sir Bobby Moore statue in we went to join the rest of the travelling party for a couple of pints - £3.50 a pint was not as bad as I had suspected! We did manage to see Mr and Mrs UKTony and pompey4me inside Wembley, but sadly that was everyone I saw that day.
When we took our seats, to the surprise of a flag for everyone, the pride of being able to see Pompey in the cup final reached an all-time high. The atmosphere was electric but being able to be there with my brother meant even more.
The game seemed to fly by and when the full time whistle went and we had done it was incredible - the players, coaches, management and of course fans went wild, a lot of these celebrations happened right in front of us as the view was awesome. I thought I was going, the eyes welled up, when it came to lifting the cup even more so but somehow I managed to fight back these tears...
Again, the journey home was a fairly quiet one, the 'vocal ones' were moaning that people were too quiet, but I say each to their own - I just think that different people dealt with it different ways, it was sinking in for most, reflection being had. Others just wanted to get back to go out, I know I did but the dodgy stomach I had been suffering with for a couple of days denied me this, as when we eventually got back to Fratton I just had to get on back to Cosham and leave the guys to go it alone - I could not have made a curry and a few beers, trust me!
Now almost a month later, and still not having been able to watch the game in its entirety again just yet - having watched the pre-match build up and sections of the game itself again - which have been put onto DVD - particularly the 'lifting of the cup' several times, which has seen me crack, another moment, a moment that has made what was 'the best day of my life' even more special is the fact that I was able to spend this with my bother - something that was highlighted as meaning even more than I thought when a clearly visible shot of us together celebrating the trophy being awarded was spotted within the footage, and re-watched time and time again!
You see, the thing is a couple of years ago he was involved in a horrendous motorcycle accident, an accident that he was lucky to escape from with is life, let alone the ability to be able to walk again. He was told he should have at least broken his back, but despite receiving terrible injuries and being laid up in hospital for around 3 months, and undergoing months and months of recuperation and rehabilitation after he survived and since that moment, after one flipside, things in his, our family and Portsmouth Football Clubs futures have been incredible - and long may it continue...
Once he left hospital, what would be a long and difficult period of rehabilitation at his Somerset home begun - but soon after his return home another crushing blow was dealt to him when his then girlfriend decided she could not deal with it and basically booted him out - I think it turned out she had met someone else just prior to his accident! I had never seen the guy so low, he had almost been killed and then dumped and he had to move home again. He beat all of this and all has worked out for the best, they say things happen for a reason and although I would not wish injury or misfortune on anyone, particularly those that I love, in hindsight I reckon this is something that we all agree had proved for the best...
Before moving home, with him unable to do much else he would spend most of his time on t'internet looking at various Pompey sites, and he used to bang about one called 'Vital Pompey'. I kept telling him I did not have the time, but eventually cracked... I started writing for the site under 'the old management', before eventually taking over and since then I have made some wonderful friends, seen some doors opened to me that I never thought I would and been happier than ever.
He moved on, found himself a new girlfriend, who although she drives me mad sometimes - and if she was my girlfriend would be under the patio by now - I think the world of and they have a beautiful son, Reece, or as we affectionately call him 'littlespoon' or 'spoony' (a play on words from the name of Reece Witherspoon) who is the apple of his 'uncle Rug's' eye - and his other Uncle and Aunty - and a grandchild that his grandparents adore.
Everyone has their ups and downs, we have been no different of these years since, but all in all since that horrendous night, the night we received the call saying that he was in a hospital, ironically enough in Cardiff, with his condition unknown our lives have been fantastic, and the rise of Pompey from a relegation threatened side to FA cup holders and one that has the potential to be one of the best around has been remarkable - and for me is proof that things do happen for a reason...
The image of us on the box, standing side by side celebrating seeing our beloved Pompey win the FA cup meant the world to me and is the abiding memory for me of what was the best day of my life so far - to have shared it with him, when he might not have even been here is something that I loved. If that proves the highlight for us for the remainder of our Pompey supporting lives then I will 'settle for that' guys!
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