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What you doing for Barca?

Submitted by on April 22, 2011 – 3:34 pmOne Comment

"Full speed ahead Barcelona..."

It’s the very early hours of Thursday 22nd April 1999. I put the key in the lock, turn it and push the door slowly, keeping the creaking of the old hinges to a minimum so as not wake anyone in our house up. I needn’t have bothered. As I walked in I heard a voice ask “what were you on?”. My dad was stood half way down the stairs quizzing me. I was tired, hungover and could only manage “uh?”.

“Come here” he says, walking into the front room where he starts to mess around with the video player. I start to come round a bit. “What do you mean what was I on?”. He says nothing but plays the video of the previous night’s game which he’s wound on to the 84th minute.

The ball’s in Schmeichel’s hands. He smashes it high into the air and when it comes back down the Juventus centre half fails to control it. It bounces off his shin and bobbles to the feet of Dwight Yorke a few yards outside their penalty area. The United forward thrusts forward, both centre halves lunge forward, end up on the floor and Yorke, somehow, is one on one with the Juve ‘keeper. He drops a shoulder, knocks the ball to his right, leaving himself a tap-in. But the ‘keeper makes a desperate dive at Yorke’s feet, bringing him down and ending any chance of him scoring.

Keane makes it 2-1

Nobody until this point has seen Andy Cole who appears in the six yard box, but the angle is extremely tight. Five thousand United fans in the furthest corner of the ground draw breath. The Juve defenders are back on their feet and have made up a lot of ground. One of them is almost back on the goal line by the time Cole pulls his leg back. He hits the ball as the defender takes a desperate last stride forward.

In the ground my view, already hampered by the couple of hundred feet between me and United’s forward two and the haze of smoke from flares and fireworks, is blocked by the mass of bodies in front of me who have all leapt into the air. I step back to get a look. We’d been two nil down in the first quarter of the game. There’s no fucking way we’ve just won here and made it to the final. The United end explodes. The lads around me are rolling round on the floor. The ball is in the back of the Juventus goal and there’s a red huddle in the penalty area. We’ve done it. We’re in the final.

Keane>Davids

“Full speed ahead Barcelona” yells Clive Tyldesley. The camera pans to the United end which is a sea of arms, legs and overjoyed Reds.  “Right, so what are you on about?” I ask my dad. “Here” he says, rewinding back to the shot of the United end. He presses pause, points and there in the middle of the screen is me, head in hands, motionless and surrounded by familiar, beaming faces, all hugging each other or punching the air in ecstatic disbelief.

Amidst the mass of bodies, there I am unable to celebrate like everyone else and instead crying my eyes out, shaking my head as if my brain is arguing with my eyes about what I’ve just seen. “What were you on?” he asks me again. “Ha. United. I’m going to bed dad”. And so ends what was, at the time, the greatest day of my life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbD5s44OQFs

When I eventually wake up I’m in a state of shock. Like everyone else who was there or who watched on telly, I can’t believe we made it. We beat Juventus having been two nil down. We’re going to see United in a European Cup Final like our dads did. Calls are made to mates. Some are flying, some on ferries or cars or trains or however the fuck they can get there. Everyone’s going. There’s only one question being asked at Elland Road the following Sunday – “what you doing for Barca?”.

Here are some of the answers. Feel free to add your own:

Andy P – Stansted to Bilbao, drive like loonies to a little place called Lleida, pissed overnight, get up cup final day to find out car had been towed away, trawl round to find compound, get car drive onto Barca and park in some hotel underground car park, have one of the nights of my life……………kip in car, drive over 300 miles back to airport in fireball xl5, just make plane, drive home from Stansted and find the fuckers had had a welcoming home party, without the fans that had gone, ah well!

Mark G – Best 250 quid I’ve spent on that week in Lloret…

Martin H – Minibus to Dover then straight to Barca. Longest trip ever.

Ian P – Ferry from Plymouth to Santander ‘on a business trip’ because no football fans allowed to travel – a long trip to Barcelona and luckily get the last hotel room before sleeping on the beach. Back straight after the game, sleep in service station and have the best party on the boat on the way back – good times!

Martin M – Interrail via Wembley, Dover, Calais, Lille, Paris, Nice, Monte Carlo, Perpignan and Lloret del Mar. The happiest of times.

John M – 17 trains from Wembley, an accommodation budget of £8 per night, all with a crazy Irishman with TOON written on his forehead in tow

Matt R – Plymouth Santander ferry then drive 3 nights on beach or kipping in car as no digs

Stuart F – Think I’m on a coach overnight in Lloret, straight back after game, it’s only £50 quid and got a ticket for £15 for the game……

Aiden O – Might go to Lloret del Mar for the week. I’ve got a spare if you want it…

One Comment »

  • midjmo says:

    Ended up in a weird little place between Lloret and Barcelona with a mate called Dave (his real name) who had never flown before. Our other mates stayed in the city, so we had to keep getting buses into Barcelona to meet anyone we knew. The deal we got was cheap as fuck, but we spent that much on transport it negated any savings we made.

    Dave was v backward and suffered a sun-burnt centre parting after spending the morning of the game by the pool at the hotel cos he didn’t want to get pissed and not remember the game. Instead he spent the whole match at the back of the stand in a daze as he had severe sun stroke. He threw up at half time and didn’t remember a thing about the match after all. Laugh? Loads…

    We are no longer in contact.

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