Wow! That is the only word that sums up the experience of yesterday – and I’m not even a football fan. From the moment I exited Peter’s house in Stoneygate there was a carnival atmosphere with lots of families walking towards town: as I drew closer the crowds thickened and by the time I got to the park it was like being on a huge demo. London Rd was closed off, so people were walking down the middle of it singing, chanting, waving flags and honking horns (remember the vuvuzelas in 2012?) bobbing balloons in the shape of trophies and wearing inappropriately warm scarves. It was UNBELIEVABLE!!! and as I drew into the station where I was due to meet OH and saw how many people were teeming off the trains (like London in the rush hour) I was completely overwhelmed by the scale of it all. Leicester has never seen anything like it; and this was only the beginning. We inched our way back up London Rd to find a spot to wait
and stood watching the crowd as we scanned the horizon for the blue open-top buses we knew were snaking through the city centre bearing the players and the fabled trophy for us to view. People were standing on rooftops (we saw one guy standing up on a high pitched roof*), sitting on balconies, leaning out of windows and generally making use of every vantage point available. And after an hour or so the buses came, preceded by a police car and a vanguard of security men who did a little dance (like Morris men without the hankies) and stood in two lines to keep people from throwing themselves under the wheels (perhaps they were afraid of a suffragette-inspired suicide?) I don’t think I’ve ever had the experience of being so close to such a major event before and it felt odd as the first bus passed us, the trophy in prime position and the players (some of whom I recognised) smiling and waving. When the buses had passed we followed them up to the park where the band had finished playing and the players were introduced one by one to a hooting, cheering, flag-waving audience.
It was like a blue Glastonbury: the park was full and I thought there must be at least 100,000 but later the local BBC reckoned it was more like 240,000. The population of Leicester is only 330,000! There were pictures of people trying to get on trains to come in – at Narborough Station they were queueing to get onto the station!
I was a bit worried that the toilet situation might also be a bit Glastonbury-like but I needn’t have been – there were serried ranks of them in strategic positions like squadrons of Daleks poised to invade. So that was good. And then home, though I partly wish we’d stayed to watch Kasabian and the fireworks.
Still, we got to see Steve and Agnes who had had the nerve to park their car in our drive!
And apparently today it’s the eighth anniversary of my starting this blog! I seem to remember I had an idea for a little widget called ‘Mr Bloggy’ – a bit like the Microsoft paperclip thing…
*that’s a pitched roof high up, not a roof singing a high note