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On the 11th of September half of the Turnstone Directorial team enjoyed a visit South (or East in my case) to Wembley for the England v Ukraine match. Also joining us for the day was Dan Scott, Managing Director of PHX Training (one of our very valued clients) and Phil’s grand daughter Freya, a huge Barrow AFC and Liverpool fan herself.
My journey began in Bristol at 10.30am were I caught the MegaBus down to London for a fiver! I then headed on over to Wembley Park tube station to wait for the rest of the gang.
We met up without a hitch and managed to find – after sometime wandering around aimlessly – a McDonalds to eat in. Whose idea was it to build a stadium in the middle of an industrial estate? It’s a rather different experience to the Millennium Stadium where any number of pubs and restaurants are within a 2 minute stumble of the ground!
Having met a lovely couple from Leeds while we ate and talked Football for an hour we made our way back down Wembley Way and into the ground.
I must admit feeling some trepidation as I entered. As a proud Welshman, I was unsure – even though I support the England Football Team on telly (NEVER the Rugby Team) – whether I’d be able to do so in real life. As it turned out I had no such problems (I think it helped that John Terry wasn’t in the team) and to be fair to Phil he’s been to the Millennium Stadium and shouted for Wales so I had little choice!
After a little convincing Phil agreed to get a St Georg’s Cross painted on each cheek. He declined the glitter! After proclaiming that I’d NEVER get one done Phil and I made a deal that if Phil came to a Welsh Rugby match dressed as a daffodil then then on the next Turnstone trip to Wembley I’d get the St George’s Cross on my cheek. We shook on the deal just as the match kicked off.
Now for the Football. There was no denying the match was entertaining and the Wembley experience is a good one but It think all four of us were left a little underwhelmed by England’s performance. It’s true that they created chances and with sharper finishing might have won the game but compared with the Ukrainians they looked rushed, constantly under pressure and never quite in control of the football.
By contrast, the Ukrainians played some nice triangles in tight situations which gave them a good solid platform to launch some swift counter-attacks from pretty much the first whistle to the last. The only three real standout players for England were Lesscott at the back who looked solid, (and unlike some of his team-mates in control and calm most of the time) Lampard and Gerrard. The latter in particular played some delightful forward passes. Glen Johnson again had a decent game going forward but he can be somewhat of a liability defensively and I think it’s fair to say all four of us felt Cleverly’s contribution was abysmal.
So, 1-1 the final score and probably, just, a fair reflection of the match after Lampard’s late penalty cancelled out a Ukrainian wonder goal in the first half.
After a long journey North, the highlights of which were Phil sitting on his sandwiches, crisps and chocolate bar at Charnock Richard services and some extremely interesting conversation between myself, Phil and Dan about all manner of topics we arrived home in Askam at 4am.
I think everyone who attended would agree that it was great day and something we’d all like to do again.