Liverpool Win 3-1 On Penalties – The Gerrard Final

Location: Cardiff

 Mission: FA Cup Final 2006

 Agent: Steven Gerrard

Sat in the pub the other day and we got reminiscing about watching Liverpool here, there and everywhere over the years and it got me thinking about our trip to Cardiff and the FA Cup Final of 2006. Here’s how I recall it all…

 It started as a joke a few weeks before the actual final, which quickly gained some momentum. ‘What about camping in Cardiff for the Cup Final?’ we said.

 Now my experience of camping was either in a wind and rain swept North Wales when I was a nipper or ‘forcing’ my son in our back garden for a night of zero sleep and less enjoyment. In other words, I’d prefer a nice hotel but no, I was outvoted.

A week before on a Friday night my brother rings me in the boozer all excited, ‘Nick, I’ve just had a trial run putting the tent up, 18 mins’.
‘You’d better get that under 15 bruv as I rained on his bonfire in a joking manner.

On the Tuesday before the game I was in the back garden making a Camp Reds on Tour banner. A white sheet was donated by the wife, I printed (and cut out) stencils and various spray paint and 30 mins later the banner is born and hung on the line to dry. Now Camp Reds on Tour sounded like a Freddie Mercury convention but it got the laughs it deserved and I better side on political correctness.

Thursday/Friday before before the game and we loaded the car. You’d think we were going away for a month the stuff we had. Beer, tent, beer, bedding, BBQ stuff, beer, and more beer.

Off South We Go

Saturday morning comes and the alarm set for 6.15am but already I was awake through the rumbling of my inners due to a chicken kebab type barmcake and several pints of bitter the evening before plus pre-match nerves of another pending Cup Final.

I wake my son up, who looks at me through one eye with the excitement of a man on death row. I whip his duvet and pillow off him and head downstairs to have a quick bite, even though my body is saying nil by mouth. Off we go to pick up my brother for the long journey south.

7.30am comes, with me doing all the driving and brother cracks open his 1st of many bitters that weekend, he wouldn’t drink before 7.30am was his policy!!

We hit the M6 south and it bounces down with rain. ‘Good camping weather’ brother explains. I can’t repeat the answer he gets from me.
The LFC CD is on and a little journey sing song for us to pass the time and get us in the mood.

Money Wasted, Time Wasted

We head towards the M6 Toll road and before I go on, I am sure my brother has some sort of obsession with Toll Roads and he insists we take the toll road – he is my big brother after all. ‘I am sure it goes past the M5 junction we want’ I pipe up.
‘We’ll be ok little brother’ was his reply.
20mins later the map is out and we are planning a diversion back to the M5, £3.50 lighter and 20mins Cardiff beer drinking time lighter.

Nothing more eventful with the journey South and we head into Wales over the Toll bridge and onto the M4. 2 miles from our junction and the traffic is very slow, with mainly West Ham fans (we had gone past the suggested Liverpool junction) and some idiot behind me in a transit is pointing towards my car.
‘F**k off you cockney tit’ I say aloud.

He continues to frantically point towards the back of the car, so I pull over a lane and he pulls alongside again pointing towards my back wheel.
‘Something is amiss brother’ and I pull onto the hard shoulder.
‘Crap, crap, crap’ I repeat as I find my back tyre as flat as Holland. I open the boot for the spare and out with the month’s supplies (tent, duvet, pillows, beer, etc.).
Changing the tyre took about 10mins but about 50 cockney’s went past beeping their horn and giving it the old hand signs at our decorated in red car (we’ll have the last laugh).

Off the motorway and follow the internet directions to the campsite, which was just about the worst directions on this planet, eventually via Penarth sea front (a poor mans Rhyl) to the campsite. £6 each and onto pitch the tent next to my mates on top of the hill, that nearly burned my engine out getting up!!
Strong winds, drizzly rain and a few cans later and the tent was secure.

Cardiff City Centre

The campsite has a mini-bus that we chuck in for and Julie cabs us into Cardiff and she drops us a short distance from the stadium.
10 mins later we are near the City Arms and onto The Old Orleans bar for our 1st draught beers.
Beers aplenty were downed in several bars (can’t remember some of the names), rubbed Gary Mc’s baldy head, sang a few songs and we marched round to the West Ham ‘neutral’ side to enter the ground.

We made a pact not to hide our colours, so in for a penny, we are in the neutral end.  Neutral was probably an overstatement in that it was West Ham everywhere and us four probably just doubled the red support in that side.

We joined in with every song the massed Liverpool supporters were singing at the other end, albeit with a few funny looks.
West Ham go 2-0 up and all you can hear is ‘bubbles’ and my thoughts turn to what a nightmare day this is turning out to be.
Cisse scores and we go bananas, thinking we can only get our heads stomped once.   

Half time and we seek out more beer but nowhere selling any, so 2 of us go the toilet and leave the other 2 to hold the red fort. We come out and get informed by my son that a steward has just asked if we want to go in the Liverpool end – result number 1. He escorts us round and we are told to stand in the aisle and watch from there.

Into the Reds End

This is more like it. 2-2 Gerrard scores and surely only one winner now. West Ham take the lead again 3-2 and the clock is ticking towards the final whistle and a disappointing defeat. Then just when the last bit of hope was disappearing Gerrard launches his one in a million thunderbolt, yes – you hug anyone you can get your hands on – result number 2.

Extra time comes and goes (and not uneventful) and on to pens. We score, they miss and could this finally be our day. It is as Reina makes up for a largely poor performance and saves Anton Ferdinand’s pen and we go mental (a Ferdinand on the losing side, to pens, 2 years running) – result number 3.

More beers downed in the centre after the game in celebration.

Ex-red big Jan Molby walks past and the conversation goes something like –
Big Jan ‘number 7 lads’
Nick ‘How many did you win Jan ?’
JM ‘3……..86,89 & 92’
N ‘You didn’t play in 92’
JM ‘F**king did and man of the match’
N ‘What did you think of Stevie G today ?’
JM ‘Not as good as me in 86’ and walks off laughing his head off (after signing my shirt).

Aldo walks past next and nearly gets mobbed and again signs my shirt. A last few pictures get taken at the City Arms and back to our campsite for a shandy or two.

Camp Reds Drinking Heavily

The bar on the campsite was superb and 1st things 1st, up with the Camp Reds banner. More reds came back and many a song was sung.
Things got a bit blurry now and off back to the tent for a can or 2 before bed and our heads hit the pillow and in an instant my son spews is sick everywhere. 15mins clearing up and we enter the land of nod.

Morning awakes with the sweltering sun over the campsite and after dodging wet carrots and spuds in the tent, its shower time.
Off down the hill and as soon as I had foamed up the water went off , good timing. Luckily two mins later it came back on freezing but slowly brought me out of marine training as the temperature rose.

My brother cracks open a can of bitter (shock) and starts the BBQ going. A couple of bacon and sausage barms later and call home to the Mrs to tell her about the sick incident (‘I told you to look after him’…….’I did. It was the cup final, so anything goes’).

Uneventful journey home really (brother has 4 cans of bitter – shock) and a visit to Homebase is needed when nearly home to get some new pillows. We empty car and slip on the video of the match with a contented smile on my now weary face.

We do it all again for the Community Shield but that’s another story.

Watch the full match highlights here:

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

Why This Midfielder Who Has An 85% Success Rate Defensively Will Be Vital For Manchester United

Wenger To PSG? Conte To Arsenal? Says Italian Media