Hull FC v. St. Helens
So, the Challenge Cup final. Webley.
never been to Wembley before, so i must record just how impressed I was. Massive, with a capital Massive. the crowd control measures funnel you in, and funnel you out, public order by design. Very clever. I came out of Wembley Park tube station to see the crowd flowing down the concrete causeway from the station to the Stadium (this is a stadium). I went with the flow. I'd chosen to wear a black and white shirt to show sympathy with the Yorkshire team. I remained unmoletsted, save for a crack about "Why don't you shave, what are you, Taleban?" from a Merseysider.
Once I got in, bizzarrely, I was asked to remove the cap from my water bottle, which meant I threw it away, coz I couldn't leave it in my bag open. I then mounted the ten flights of stairs to the fifth level, and my seat in block 550, row 32. That is a long way up.
In the heat and the height and the noise, the stadium was amazing. A crowd of what turned out to be around eighty two thousand made a continual roar, simply by breathing, it seemed. the weather, which I had expected to be gloomy and muggy, was bright and warm. perfect for playing.
the match itself looked like it was going to be one sided. teh guy next to me thought Hull looked disorganised. I thought it was just that Saint's werebloody brilliant. or, rather, that they got the basics right, and thus forced the Humbersiders into trying riskier, fancier play - that they never quite pulled off. Like the Quinns' game, Saints sped the play along terrically. They scored back to back tries, unanswered.
I knew when Hull scored their fans (who seemed to edge the majority) would errupt, as indeed, they did, as Hull bravely fought back, with some amazing tries, run in from great distance.
Saints, though, showed mettle, running in opportunistic tries with extra zeal. No quarter was given, every advantage taken. Both teams turned in an excellent technical game, and Saint's continued their fair play league habit - which is a good one - of giving away very few technical panalties (the rest of Rugbydom should learn a lesson from this, penalties are bad, avoiding them makes your game so much better).
The worthy winners, then, after a second half fightb ack from Hull proved not to be enough (and a very temporary lead to boot).
Hull 16-28 St Helens