My tickets for next Sunday's Blue Square Play-Off Final at Wembley arrived this morning, by recorded delivery. The poor postman said that his round was going to take him much longer today, as every third household required an autograph! Naturally, Exeter (the city and, er, City) is eagerly anticipating this visit to London... not quite so novel for me, as I am up there every couple of weeks. The hope is that the pitch will have recovered from the exertions of the FA Cup Final the previous day -- when one of the world's most famous trophies will either have gone to a Welsh side outside the top flight (that'll give the FA indigestion!) or to a "lesser" (but still, by most standards, very flush) Premiership side.
As for Wembley itself. Frankly, I found it rather shiny and soulless last year. And £6 for a burger? C'mon. Thank goodness I'm a veggie and had a beanfeast beforehand. It's a venue that soaks up money -- both the taxpayer's and the punter's. This year the Play-Off tickets have been hiked from £25 and £28 to £33 or £38, while the Conference and the stadium argue about who's taking the cut when asked about it (they're not sure?). Compared to other 'big events', that's quite reasonable, of course, though some will argue that this is still Non-League and the actual cost of two top price tickets is higher once the service charge and recorded postage is added. The latter is vital, because there are no replacements, even if you can prove you bought a ticket and its disappearance is demonstrably not your fault. Legally, this is probably an "unfair term and condition." Not that it has put many people off. One Grecians fanatic has shelled out for 336 tickets to help others out, apparently!
By contrast, the New Hampden looks quite a small and slightly unimposing venue when it's empty (I've done the tour a couple of times, while visiting the Scottish Football History Museum), but it's a cauldron when full. I also really like the continuing connection with the roots of the game, emblemized by Queen's Park (thanks for the new defender, guys). I hope to see Scotland take on Northern Ireland there in August, if I have the time and any money left. Which is far from guaranteed. Oh, and it only took £4 million or so out of the public purse when the Glasgae stadium was built, compared to the squillions lavished on North London. Or so I'm told.