Wembley is not, and never will be, ‘home’.
White Hart Lane was our home. And our magnificent new stadium will be home. We will remain in the same borough, on the very same site, breathing the same N17 air, living the same memories.
Wembley is entirely different; it’s in Brent, it’s leased, it is an impressive but impersonal stadium that belongs to someone else. We’re lodgers. As Chelsea probably will be soon.
But on Sunday it felt almost as near to being our ‘home’ as it ever will. Just like the team, our fans have taken a few matches to settle in, to acclimatise to the venue. Inspired by our team’s performance against Liverpool, the record 80,827 crowd generated an atmosphere to match.
Much has been made of the “Wembley hoodoo”, a narrative that conveniently forgets that some of our great Club’s finest moments have occurred at the very same ground; sealing the Double in 1961, Ricky Villa’s goal in 1981, Gazza’s free-kick in 1991, other FA Cup and League Cup wins. Of course, if you live in the ‘Sky-PL’ bubble that believes football only started in the 1990s, you have no sense, or even knowledge, of this perspective. Personally I fail to see why, say, a loss to Man United on penalties in the 2009 League Cup Final should have any more relevance to a ‘hoodoo’ today than what happened in 1961?
What will surpass the atmosphere on Sunday? Winning a trophy at our ‘home’ ground. Carabao or FA Cup, I don’t mind. Both preferably. That would be a day we could genuinely put our feet up and say, ‘there’s no place like home’.
Meanwhile, West Ham have a longstanding (not temporary) problem. They have leased an impressive but impersonal stadium that belongs to someone else. It’s not even a football stadium. They’re lodgers. On an athletics track. But they have to try and make it ‘home’. It will take a long time.
So as we welcome them to Wembley for the Carabao Cup, let’s hope we can generate an atmosphere comparable to Sunday’s. COYS.