‘We’ll all remember where we were the night the Queen died’

Two Blowing Bubbles writers share their experiences of our Conference League clash against FCSB

Our Europa Conference League group game against FCSB was played in sombre circumstances with the news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death announced just an hour and a half before kick-off.

Blowing Bubbles writer David Bowden first heard of the news on the train between Clapham Junction and London Waterloo, on the way to the ground.

‘I never doubted for a second that the fixture would be abandoned and indeed it was only until I was on the way home that I saw the tweet at 7 pm confirming the game would go ahead,’ he said.

‘From the moment I stepped into the ground it felt different, it felt like the majority of the people inside the stadium felt as though there were more important things going on than a football match that evening, and of course, they were right.

‘With no music being played before the game except some monotonous keyboard music from the get-go made the whole experience feel bizarre.

Marking their respect

‘The moment of the match for me happened before a ball was even kicked, with the players marking their respect for the Queen, us fans bursting into a spontaneous rendition of God Save the Queen, it was a moment where the hairs on the back of your neck stand, it was a proud moment for me to be a West Ham United fan. It just felt proper, and the right thing to do.

‘The game itself didn’t really allow the atmosphere to really get going, we were awful in the first period, again perhaps a little distracted by events off the field, and the atmosphere only really ratcheted up when the visitors opened the scoring with the sudden realisation we were surrounded by Romanians as they gleefully celebrated the opener.

‘The win came though, and I think the consensus was that it was an odd night, with the fixture played in difficult circumstances, but I don’t think many there that night will remember much about the actual game itself, but the general emotion and feeling around the venue due to the passing of the Queen will perhaps live with many for a long, long time.’

As for fellow Blowing Bubbles writer Meirion Williams, it was a day of incredible emotion as he had a tough decision to make before kick off.

300 mile round trip

‘Midweek games for me can be a chore as having to drive over 150 miles to the London Stadium means around four hours in the car just to get to the game on time. Thus I left home at 2:30pm just as the announcement came out from Buckingham Palace.

‘Driving towards Gloucester, I had the radio on and with no further news other than the Queen’s children were all making their way to Scotland, it seemed as if the news was gradually getting worse.

‘As I climbed up onto the Cotswolds, now forty minutes into my journey, several commentators were stating that we all needed to prepare ourselves for the worst. It was slowly becoming transparent that I needed to make a decision and make it quick.

‘Do I continue on my four hour journey and hope for better news from the Palace or do I risk travelling all that way to only find the news get worse and the game cancelled, with me then turning around to repeat that journey, a journey of eight hours.

Dilemma

‘It was a dilemma made worse by the fact that I was travelling alone and that with the knowledge that most of those I meet at the ground were not even going to be in attendance. 

‘With the rain now lashing down on the A40 I pulled over and phoned home. My wife informed me that all newsreaders had now changed into black attire and all normal programming had been cancelled. 

‘It was looking grave. I made my decision and turned around. I arrived home just after five in the afternoon. I had a feeling that if no updates were made by 6pm then the game would go ahead. 

‘When the news of the Queen’s death came at just after 6:30 I was at home watching TV with my wife. I’m not a royalist but it was shocking news to digest.

‘Almost as a mark of respect I was glad I didn’t go to the game, it simply would not have felt right to attend.

Wrong decision

‘I watched some of the game on television but only half-heartedly. I understand some of the logic in relation to the game going ahead but still feel it was the wrong decision as I did when we played Reading all those years ago when the 9/11 events were happening.

‘I remember being at that game at the Madejski Stadium and realising as I watched the news on the television in the stadium that football had suddenly become unimportant.

‘I felt that against FCSB. I feel though that by turning around this time, I made the right decision.’

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