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Thursday, 4 March 2010


Me, posing at the imposing Wembley, Copyright Agachiri 2010
It is an architectural masterpiece. It hosts major English football cup finals. England plays its international matches here. It is Wembley Stadium, in North-West London.

I became aware of this great football venue back in the mid eighties, through the Road to Wembley FA Cup ties, screened by the then Voice of Kenya television, which would always culminate in an electrifying cup final at Wembley.

Fast forward 25 years later and my temporary residence in the UK, of all possible places, happens to be in the neighbourhood of Wembley Stadium. Almost each day as I go to college, I make it a ritual to spend a few moments gazing at the giant Wembley Ring not so far away.

Then almost inevitably, fate hands me an opportunity to actually get to witness firsthand, an international football match at Wembley, pitting England against Egypt. Although I would have wanted to cheer my fellow African team, my ticket stipulates otherwise.

As I make my way to entrance D, I encounter a boisterous group of Egyptian supporters. I can't help but admire their sense of patriotism, the distance between Cairo and London notwithstanding. Many are draped in their national flag and others don their team's colours                                                                      

Playing of team national anthems, copyright Agachiri 2010

The escalators lead me to a vomitory that in turn ushers me into the magnificent playing arena that is Wembley Stadium. Absorbing the beauty of this awesome citadel of English football takes my breath away.

In a matter of minutes, the tens of thousands of seats begin to fill up and the atmosphere soon gets an injection of such an enormous theatre-like sound, I silently wonder how the players get to keep their concentration.

An African fan of English football inside Wembley

A strange feeling suddenly engulfs me. It's an overwhelming realization that I am a foreigner. After a good ten minutes of scrutinizing my neighbouring spectators, I give up trying to find another person of African descent.

The roar from the crowd almost triples upon the entry of the two teams. For a moment or two, I almost forget I primarily came to watch a football match and spend most of the time taking pictures.

Egypt vs England match, Copyright Agachiri 2010
Never in a million years would I have imagined it would be possible to watch the likes of Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney or John Terry play before my very own eyes.

But it is the reigning African football champions, who take the lead against the run of play. The counter-effect of this, is a barrage of nasty abuses that assaults my ears from some of the agitated home team supporters. Suffice it to say I have now heard enough F-words to last me a lifetime.

I really struggle to give the impression that I am supporting England, knowing too well that deep down I'm hoping Egypt would inflict an unforgettable defeat on the home side. I find myself occasionally cheering a move by the Pharaohs, which is virtually outlawed courtesy of the ticket I purchased.

England start the second half strongly boosted by the introduction of Peter Crouch and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Crouch scores twice and Shaun another to give England a commanding lead and restore sanity in the area around my seat.

View of Wembley Stadium at night, Copyright Agachiri 2010

In the end, despite the loss by Egypt, I'm in a celebratory mood. Extremely happy to have been a part of the 80, 600-strong spectators, who watched the match.


Anonymous said...

you must have had a fantastic experience ,from the pictures, the place looks awesome

Anonymous said...

how many youngster like us have you helped to achieve our goals?????????

Albert Gachiri said...

Much as I would love to help all youngsters out there, I'm still very much in the process of achieving my own personal goals. I thank God though, for the little accomplishments here and there. The much I can do for now is to inspire youngsters to dream big and fervently pursue their career objectives, with disciplined focus, patience and humility. They should always remember that nothing is really impossible in this world, with hard work and dedication. And finally, all glory will be to the Almighty.