It was the most important day I could remember as a child. Shrewsbury Town football club meant the world to me and finally they had got into a Auto Windscreen cup final at Wembley. It was the 14th of April 1996 and I was only 8 years old. I had my full Shrewsbury Town kit on ready for the match even though the match was later on in the day.
All of my family got up really early so we could travel down to London to watch the big match. We had booked the tickets way in advanced so we would get one of the best seats so we could enjoy the day as much as possible.
On the way there seemed to take ages I just could not wait, as we had been waiting for this very day to come for months. My family and I went to every round of the cup home and away and finally all of the fans support had paid off and our dreams had come true.
After hours and hours of driving we finally got to Wembley stadium which was huge. I could not believe how big it was and seeing the two white towers of Wembley just inspired me I knew that we were going to win.
I got into the stadium I was sitting by the half way line which is one of the best seats in the whole stadium. The stadium crammed packed of die hard supporters and the atmosphere was amazing. Shrewsbury Town fans were singing so loud I thought my ear drums were going to burst and the match had not even started and I knew that this was going to be special.
The mascots came onto the pitch and were going round celebrating getting to Wembley, the clubs must have really been pleased getting there as they were giving everybody free sweets, they were lobbed into the crowd by both mascots but the sweet I received was from Lenny the Lion who was the Shrewsbury mascot so I appreciated it more. By the time everybody had finished their sweets the teams were coming on to the pitch with the announcer saying all the names as they came out. All of the player’s names received a cheer. As I remember the Shrewsbury Town players got bigger cheers so I was hoping with the better support they should play better.
The whistle went and the game began with a roar from the fans. The game was very tight and it was going from end to end all the time with many chances going begging due to the superb form of the keepers. Just before the end of the first half Rotherham United had a free kick at the edge of the area and I had a bad feeling about it. Their striker started him run up slowly and kept on increasing in speed then whacked the ball really hard, I had never seem a ball go so fast. It went straight through the wall and the keeper and into the top left corner. The Rotherham fans roared with the Shrewsbury town fans heads dropped in disappointment. I thought it wasn’t the end of the world and that we would pull it back easily as we had been playing really well and for a moment I thought we were going to but it hit the cross bar and the keeper gathered it and he just kicked it away and another chance had been and gone. The whistle went and it was half time.
The second half Shrewsbury came out fighting and they looked like they were going to pull it back and take the lead the way that they were playing. The Shrewsbury fans were getting louder and louder and the game tempo was getting faster and faster and looked like Rotherham were worn out but they just kept on hanging on. Tackle after tackle was made and Shrewsbury just not score, so they decided to push all their player’s up for a corner which they did not score on again and they’re was no one in defence and Rotherham United had the ball and seem to get a second wind as they were running down the pitch like lightning. The were about three Rotherham players and no Shrewsbury defenders just the keeper. They passed it round and had shot and it was in and Shrewsbury were down two nil and it looked like we would never get back into the game. The Rotherham fans were singing louder than ever discouraging the Shrewsbury players until Shrewsbury’s star striker Lee Steele got the ball and took it past three defenders and shot into the bottom right corner which was unstoppable. It was now 2-1 and Shrewsbury had a fighting chance.
Shrewsbury had the ball all the time now and it was always in the Rotherham half and they could just not score, Shrewsbury had millions of chances and they could not convert one of them and it was in injury time now and there was only three minutes left on the clock.
Shrewsbury had the ball and were all out attack surely they were going to score this time. Lee Steele had the ball again. He took it past one, then two, then three. Now he was one on one with the keeper he shot into the top right corner and the keeper got a hand to it and it got tipped onto the post. It rebounded and about seven Shrewsbury Town players were ready to pounce on it but just one Rotherham defender kicked it away and then the final whistle went and Shrewsbury Town had lost.
I just could not believe it I just froze in my seat I didn’t want to move I wanted to stay there and mourn over the loss. I remember that ‘Don’t look back in anger’ came on the speakers and I just burst into tears. This was the worst feeling I had felt in my life. My mum tried to pull me away but I just stayed there in shock, I just would not leave. In the end I had to be carried out of Wembley by my dad.