Friday, May 02, 2008

Mirth and Woe: Wem-ber-ley

Mirth and Woe: Wem-ber-ley

Wembley Stadium. Venue of Legends.

I've been there on many occasions for both football and music events. And yes, I have seen many a legend. Gary Lineker. Marco Van Basten. Romario. Paul "Gazza" Gascoigne.

And then I've seen some right old crap. Gus Caesar. The infamous Geoff Thomas Shot. Genesis.

You win some - and as a German XI on 30th July 1966 will tell you - you lose some. And that day was the old stadium's finest hour - a Geoff Hurst hat-trick, the Jules Rimet trophy and a nation celebrates.

And from there on, it was downhill all the way - failure to qualify for the '74 World Cup, crumbling old terraces, the infamous Wembley River of Piss and a car park brimming with dog shit as the place became a greyhound track and car boot venue to make both ends meet.

Of course, there was the odd day or two of glory. And I should know, for like the 100-per-cent-not-gay-at-all Max Boyce, I was there. And I scored one of the finest hat-tricks ever seen at the old stadium.

Geoff Hurst, if you're going to get all German on us, only bagged two on that day in 1966. I got three, and the crowd went wild.

I queued for hours to get those tickets.

Up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday, worse for a night on the ale, and blessed with the patience of those in the queue around me who didn't mind my nipping off for a touch of diarrhoea and vomiting in a handy doorway, I wheeled away in triumph - four tickets for U2 at Wembley Stadium. Joshua Tree tour. The stuff of legends. At the Venue of Same.

And there we were - four of us squeezing through the turnstiles clutching over-priced programmes, wading through the Wembley River of Piss - which was of a particularly fine vintage that year - and out into the stadium bowl itself where tens of thousands had gathered to see The Pogues, Lou Reed and finally, the masters themselves - Bongo and the band.

Of course, there was rich, brown vomit to be had, as we partook in the moshpit for The Pogues - another night on the ale being absolutely no preparation for a long day's bouncing up-and-down. Then, we stood in worship for Reed, before the long wait as the road crew got the stage ready for the main event.

We mooched around the concession stands, waded through the river of piss and sat around for a bit.

Then - a touch of magic - somebody produced a football from somewhere.

All over a sudden, it was jumpers for goalposts, and the biggest football match Wembley Stadium had ever seen. Two hundred-a-side at the very least, with hot, sweaty rock music fans chasing the ball about, vying for the honour of having played at Wembley.

I confess right now. Like jug-eared, crisp-munching football legend Gary Lineker, I was a terrible goalhanger, and as soon as the ball came near me I took a swing at it, and ended up under a pile of bodies as I celebrated scoring the finest goal of my short but rubbish footballing career.

My pecker up, I went out looking for that darn football, elbowed some hippy out of the way, and bore down on goal, only the goalie to beat. In a shimmy that Thierry Henry would have been proud of, I sold all three keepers and outrageous dummy and slotted home a second time. This time I remembered to run away before I was mobbed by the baying hordes.

And then, with literally seconds left on the clock, the ball pinged around in front of goal, one of the seven keepers went to boot it clear only to see it rebound off my arse, straight between the mound of coats.


The crowd - all 80,000 of them - roared their appreciation.... the intro to "Where The Streets Have No Name" rang out across the Wembley terraces. Not a soul was paying any attention to the finest Wembley hat-trick since Hurst. Even the jumpers-for-goalposts goalposts had gone, and the ball rolled forlornly into the River of Piss, where it was never seen again.

My finest moment.


Robbed by Bongo out of U2.

The big-nosed bastard.

And then I was sick on the hallowed turf. Making it - in my humble opinion - even more hallowed.

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