Que Hurrah Hurrah, Whether By Train, Coach, Or Taxi, We’re Going To Wembley

Kev Neylon
10 min readMay 11, 2024

Doris Day ladies and gentlemen, somewhat traditional for this kind of thing. All the way back to her 1956 chart topper. Not necessarily hoping it’s chips though.

The playoffs continue. After the wonderful 3–0 home win on Tuesday night it’s the second leg, away to Milton Keynes Dons.

I quite often comment to say that I’ve gone straight to home games from writing group, as that finishes at one, and a wander down to the ground gives me my chance to be there as they are opening the turnstiles. It seems most Saturday home games align with writing group sessions which is handy. When they don’t and it is an away game, then it is writing and then home to watch Soccer Saturday for score updates. But today is a first. Writing group in the morning, and then straight to an away game. With it being an evening kick-off, it gives the right amount of time to meet Helen at the train station and get up to Milton Keynes with enough time to check in and drop a bag off at the hotel, and then wander towards the ground finding somewhere to get some food. It’s just a longer wander to the game than usual.

As we travel there four days after the first leg, I’m still pinching myself at the position we find ourselves in. There is a lot of confidence amongst fans. But I’m going around with fingers crossed (which makes typing the first half of this quite difficult), and a mantra in my head of ‘stop jinxing it,’ as I see the wave of social media and forum posts talking about a Wembley visit.

If our home game hadn’t succumbed to ark training and been played on Monday, then this game would have been played Thursday night. But now it’s been rearranged, it isn’t easy to drive up to Milton Keynes. The M25 westbound is closed for the weekend as they continue to work on the A3 junction, and there are roadworks at Dartford, which is why we’ve gone for the train.

Crawley were allocated two thousand tickets for the game; the minimum MK were allowed to offer. There was a lot of moaning about only having two thousand tickets available, but that is still nine hundred more than made the short trip to Sutton a few weeks ago, and we didn’t manage to sell them all anyway, the final tally of sold tickets coming to 1,630.

It was a lovely sunny day for the trip up, a wander to the hotel. The city centre is just bizarre, ghost town, wide open spaces, lots of greenery though, and a grid formation, but it makes the Marie Celeste look claustrophobic. Then out for food in the centre of the city, Ask, which just reminds us how much we miss the one in Crawley. It’s worth ten Prezzo’s.

Their stadium is seriously impressive, a case of build a stadium for what you want to achieve. They had proper searches, sniffer dogs, bag check, pat downs on the way in. The concourse was packed with chanting fans, and the noise is immense. We see Reuben to say hello, and the Mansfield brothers once in our seats. However, for such a modern, supposed state of the art, stadium, the PA system is rubbish, couldn’t pick up a single announcement from their voice over man all game.

I get a programme, it was only three quid, and was thicker than ours on Tuesday, but is half full of adverts. But at least they had the common courtesy to include four pages on their opposition — i.e. us.

It is a repeat of Tuesday night as far as strips are concerned, all red for us, and all white (flag?) for the MK Dons. Two minutes in and there is a poor pass out from the MK keeper, it is pounced on by Jay Williams who takes it into the box and slots it in the corner and we lead 1–0 on the night and 4–0 on aggregate. Can this be happening?

MK get some attacking going, and win a corner, which is put out for another corner, and we clear it. Clever work from Harry Forster down the right, ball comes across to Adam Campbell who chips it over the defenders, but Danilo Orsi can’t get a telling finishing touch on the ball. More decent work, down the left this time, but again we can’t get the final shot away.

The MK toerag, number eighteen, stamps on Williams’ thigh after the ball has gone. The officials are like the four blind mice, and nothing is given. MK as a whole are going for the kick lumps out of Crawley approach at every opportunity. Campbell is barged over with a forearm smash to the back of the head, and again the officials see nothing wrong with it. The MK players are in the ref’s face at every opportunity, as if they’re the hard done ones. A two footed lunge straight through Klaidi Lolos just gets waved on by the ref.

We are having lots of possession. But it wouldn’t be a game without a Corey Addai heart in your mouth moment. A pass out goes straight to a MK player, but their shot is straight at Addai, and we survive. A MK shot from twenty-five yards out is saved at full stretch by Addai for a corner. MK’s number eighteen is down in the box claiming a penalty like the cheating scumbag he is.

On half an hour after some MK pressure we play the ball out well, flicked on towards Orsi, the MK defender misjudges the bounce, Orsi pulls in under control goes outside the defender and pulls a shot back across the keeper and into the corner and it is 2–0, and a 5–0 aggregate lead.

Another two footed lunge, this time through the back of Jeremy Kelly at least wins a free kick, but again there is no yellow card. FFS ref, some protection from the MK thugs would be good. Lolos is clattered in the back again and down injured, but nothing is given. A couple of minutes later, Lolos wins a tackle in midfield, but to everyone’s bemusement, the ref awards a free kick to MK and books Lolos. So, the blind twat does have his cards with then.

There is an injury to Forster, and he is subbed off to be replaced by Kellen Gordon. MK win a free kick on the left-hand edge of the area as the board goes up for five minutes of added time. The ball is swung over to the back post and an outstretched leg plays it back across for the cheating thug number eighteen to score. 2–1 on the night and 5–1 on aggregate.

It looks as if we have restored the advantage almost immediately. Lolos plays it through to Orsi, who helps it on the Jeremy Kelly, and his touch beats the keeper. We are all up celebrating the goal, but it is cleared off the line. There is another hefty challenge, this time on Will Wright and yet again it goes unpunished. After seven extra minutes the ref finally blows for half time.

The second half kicks off with Wright having been replaced by Joy Mukena after the heavy challenge at the end of the first half. Two minutes in there is a ball to Lolos, who drifts inside, and plays a perfect ball to Liam Kelly, who is in on goal with just the keeper to beat, but he squares it to Orsi for a simple tap in and it’s 3–1 on the night and now 6–1 on aggregate. This is dreamland.

The MK toerag dives in the penalty area again trying to cheat for a penalty, and a goal kick is awarded. Lolos is pulled back in midfield and appears to be smacked in the face for bad measure. A free kick is given, but still no yellow card for any MK player. Lolos is subbed off, and Campbell is at the same time, Ronan Darcy and Jack Roles come on for fresh legs.

MK get a corner and force an Addai save, but the offside flag was up anyway. There is a foul by Mukena in his own half, and somewhat unbelievably, the ref books him. They play it wide, and the cross is blocked away by Addai, and he saves the follow up shot. There is finally a booking for MK as one of their players drags Roles down thirty-five yards out. It is played into the box, but cleared, played back in from the other side, two players stretch to try and get a shot away and both fail, but the flag has gone up for offside anyway.

We make the fifth and final substitution, with Williams replaced by Nick Tsaroulla. MK attack and a cross is blasted against an arm two yards away from where it is hit, and the ref has no hesitation in giving MK a penalty. Which Addai saves, and justice is served. MK attack again, but their shot from twenty-five yards out is high and wide.

A break down the right sees a cross come in only to be collected by the MK keeper, but his ball out is won back quickly and a cross from Tsaroulla is blocked for a corner. We are having a lot of the ball and passing it around amongst ourselves all over the pitch, accompanied by a series of ‘oles.’ MK get hacked off with this and hack down Darcy. Another hack on Liam Kelly follows quickly, there is a serious lack of yellow cards for such thuggish play from MK, it is deliberate brutality.

Roles gets the ball in midfield and his shot from thirty yards sees the MK keeper make a hash of the save, but he is lucky as the deflected ball comes back off the post. Another MK lunge through the back of a player, this time Gordon, and no yellow card.

On eighty minutes we break down the right, the ball is played into Orsi, who tries twisting and turning every which way trying to get a shot away to get his hat trick, and the ball ends up with Roles, who slots it in, and it is 4–1 on the night, 7–1 on aggregate. A mass exodus is occurring in the home end now.

There is finally a second booking for the thugs after a foul on Tsaroulla. Scumbag number eighteen kicks the ball away after another foul, but somehow doesn’t pick up a booking. Is he immune or something?

Four added minutes are indicated. Thankfully, it is shown how long on the big screen, as no one can make out a word the bloke on the PA is trying to say. We move the ball down the left after more sustained possession, just playing it around and having MK chasing shadows. The ball comes to Darcy, but his shot is over.

Back down the left again, it is worked through into the box and Darcy squares it across two yards out and Orsi is there at the far post to chest the ball into the net for his hat trick, and to make the score 5–1 on the night and 8–1 on aggregate. Seriously, how fucking good is this?

From the restart MK attack and they crash a shot that comes back off the crossbar. Their number fourteen hauls Darcy down, both hand pulling the back of the shirt and throwing him to the ground, and there are ironic cheers as he finally gets booked.

The final whistle goes. We have done. Crawley Town are heading to Wembley for the first time in their history. They will be up against Crewe Alexandra, who upset the odds to come back from a first leg deficit against the steamroller that was Doncaster Rovers and beat them on penalties. I don’t know if the crowd was announced, it was impossible to tell what was being said, but the MK website had the official crowd as being 10,053 with 1,630 away fans.

It took quite some time for the elated fans to come down from their seats up in the gods with the player celebrating in front of the areas the fans were in.

It may take them some time to stop pinching themselves at what they have witnessed over the two legs. The long journey home is probably still ongoing for most fans. Meanwhile it was back to the hotel to write this, watch highlights and be generally deliriously happy, only to find the lead I have to charge the camera doesn’t work as a data transfer lead, and so the photos from the night can’t be added to this.

Roll on the bun fight for the tickets for Wembley, there should be more than enough to go around. One more win for that unexpected promotion.

Come on you reds.

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Kev Neylon

Writing fiction, travel, history, sport, & music blogs. Monthly e-zine with all kinds of writing at www.onetruekev.co.uk. All pictures used are my own.