Littlehampton Town at Wembley: A behind-the-scenes look at covering a match at the national stadium
It’s fair to say then when a football match needs covering, I’m not first on the list of reporters to call.
I couldn’t tell you the offside rule if my life depended on it, and much to the shame of my dad, brother and husband, I’ve never really watched a match properly from start to finish.
But as Littlehampton Town progressed in the FA Vase cup, eventually getting through to Sunday’s final, there was no way as Gazette editor I could miss being there.
And that was how I found myself on the road to Wembley. No messing around for me, going straight in at the deep end to watch my first ever game at the national stadium.
As a fan of nights out drinking Aperol spritz with my friends, heading to the terraces (well, the Wembley press centre) was a bit of a change of pace for me.
Which might explain my text to head of sport Mark Dunford ahead of Sunday’s outing, asking what he was planning to wear.
Apparently, this isn’t typical behaviour for sports reporters. Duly noted for next time. Whoops!
This, compounded by me calling them ‘Littlehampton Town football team’ in emails planning our coverage, led to Mark assuring me I wouldn’t be required to provide actual sports coverage (a lucky escape for everyone).
Instead, I would be speaking with fans, and providing more of a news flavour to proceedings. That I could do, which made me feel less nervous about stepping into the unknown.
It was an early start to get to Wembley a couple of hours ahead of kick-off so we could set up and do some interviews.
The 7.30am train was buzzing with fans, and by the time we were on the tube, they were in full flow, singing and chanting.
After chatting to so many of the Golds fans in Wembley Way (all of whom were so lovely, not one of them exposing me as the sporting fraud I was), it was time to head inside.
And this is where it got exciting. This is where I was going to find Mr Reynolds, and Wembley was going to give me a free lunch. Does life get any better?!
I was given a media pass, which I wore with pride all day (and on the train home, much to my husband’s amusement when I arrived home in the evening). At the media level, we could help ourselves to coffee, tea, juices, a giant bacon bap and enough hash browns to last you all week. Don’t mind if I do! Still no sign of Ryan, but maybe he’s arriving later?
We were then shown to our allocated seats, where we had a little desk, a screen to watch the match live on and enough plug sockets for about ten devices. I don’t know what I was expecting, but this made me irrationally happy.
As the Golds came out onto the pitch, the atmosphere was electric. I’d never really got it before, but in that moment I could see why people get so emotionally involved in the beautiful game.
At half time, there were more drinks and huge cookies (but sadly no Ryan). But there was still time...
I really was rooting Golds to win, but, alas, it wasn’t their day. The game ended 3-0, but the crowd still couldn’t have been prouder .
And me? Maybe I could be converted to being a fan, but only on the proviso whoever wants my support gives me a free lunch.
As the medals were presented, my hopes of mingling with Hollywood’s elite dwindled .
It almost tempted me into staying for the Wrexham v Bromley match (well, that and the fact spicy macaroni cheese was on the afternoon press centre menu), but there were fans to chat to , and I wanted to see my children before bedtime .
So, I never did find Mr Reynolds, but it was a fantastic day out.
Stories about the match from the proper sports team:35 pictures of Littlehampton Town's players and fans at Wembley