Great Cup Final Story From Kickback
Posted 31 May 2012 - 02:44 PM
Thousands of Jambos will be telling stories of the historic triumph against our city rivals for years to come. I always knew my personal story would be tempered somewhat by the fact that I had to catch a flight the next morning at 8am to get to a wedding, having changed my travel plans after the semi final victory — my withdrawal from the stag night was a no-brainer. But I had no idea that my story would become quite as dramatic as it did. I am now returned from the wedding, battered and bruised, and I am compelled to share this story with you.
This is my story. (This is my song).
I got a bus through to Glasgow at 10 o’ clock with a most excellent band of brothers and sisters under the leadership of the mighty John S (whose management of his troops was exceptional and whose specially produced John Cumming T-shirts were worn by many with pride). Remembering my mishap at the World Cup Semi Final in 2010 where I left my ticket at a friend’s house and realised upon arrival in Cape Town, I was exceptionally careful this time! (As it happens, on that occasion I had just enough time to CANE IT down the motorway and back to retrieve said ticket).
I had my SC final ticket in my in-tray at work and was checking it every day. When I left on the Friday evening I carefully placed the ticket between the pages of a book I was taking home along with my boarding pass for the Sunday flight. I must have checked my pocket on the bus 10 times or more to make sure the ticket was still there.
Rocking up to Hampden with scores of Hearts fans, I reached into my pocket for the ticket. At this point, I unfolded it ready for to hand over at the turnstile. This is when I realised what I had done. The horror that spread through every cell of my body was cold, hideous and extreme. I was looking at a used ticket for a Quantic gig a couple of weeks ago at the HMV Picture House.
I made my mate aware of this awful realisation. The colour drained from his face. It’s hard to explain how I felt physically, a curious sense of displacement and dizziness had taken hold and it’s fair to say I was close to tears. I went up to the first guys I saw wearing yellow hi-vis vests.
“Excuse me. Something really bad has happened.”
My hands were shaking as I handed the ticket to one of them. He unfolded it and studied it, confused.
“What’s your point?”
“That is supposed to be my ticket. I brought the wrong ticket.”
Straight away, without me even asking: “There’s nothing you can do. There isn’t even a ticket office open today.”
This came as no surprise. There was only twenty minutes to go before kick-off. My mate said, “There’s got to be something we can do, you’ll get in — somehow, you’ll get in.” His blind optimism was exactly that — blind. And he wasn’t fooling himself any more than he was fooling me.
I had to try though, so I called my other mate who had organised the ticket purchase, in whose name and credit card number the booking was. It was a futile hope especially at the last minute that somehow I might be able to get a member of staff from the ticket offices that weren’t even open to find the booking on a computer and magically issue a reprint. My mate on the phone was already inside and while he promised to try to make a couple of calls, it was clear this was an act of desperation with no chance of a successful outcome. I did the same and called a couple of other folk who also wouldn’t be able to do a thing to help and went to their voicemails anyway. I wasn’t getting into this game.
I repeated the conversation I had had with the security official several times with other security staff members and police. But it was quite simple. There was no way anyone could be admitted without a valid ticket, and there was no facility in operation whereby I could attempt to resolve this unfolding disaster. My mate meekly suggested I take his ticket on the spurious logic that I deserved it more having been a fan for longer than he. I rejected this magnanimous but ludicrous suggestion. The idea he reinforced that I would still get in was equally ludicrous. Really now the match was about to start and he would have to abandon me and make his way into the ground. Before he did, I took a picture of his ticket so as I would know where my seat was in the vain theory that God might intervene — perhaps someone might take pity on me at half time, perhaps if I had my mate film the empty seat as “evidence”....
I simply couldn’t believe what was happening. I had a ticket but it was still sitting on my desk in Edinburgh and even though my entitlement was valid, without that ticket in my actual and immediate possession, my seat in the stand would remain empty for this match and that was that.
At this point I could have admitted defeat. But in that situation you will try anything. So I tried getting in to the main stadium office to plead my case but the guys on the door wouldn’t even let me speak to reception, even gave me the “We’re going to have to ask you to move away now Sir...”.
I kept trying, explaining my predicament to at least twenty officials around the stadium and the match had already started. Some had sympathy for me. Some tried consulting their area supervisor. None could help. I begged at the hospitality entrance. I begged with several actual turnstile operators. The best I was getting was being referred to senior staff who would then fob me off. Quite rightly. That’s their job. Of course I wasn’t getting in with my used HMV Picturehouse ticket. One supervisor guy told me the only chance I had was to buy a ticket from someone selling a spare, or maybe something might arise from a fan not being admitted by police for being too drunk. He said to hang around near the main entrance: that was where random tickets would “always” be on offer, only he was amazed that he hadn’t seen a single tout on this day…
Then among the stragglers making their way in I saw one guy holding a ticket in the air. I ran up to him. He said, “Ticket swap?”
“Um, sure, but I really doubt you’ll go for that, buddy.”
He had a ticket to the Hibs end and was after swapping it for a Hearts one. My only glimmer of hope failed right then and there.
I have never felt so sickened and I was all out of options. But still I persevered and came upon yet another steward with whom I initiated the all-too-familiar routine. This guy sounded kind of Australian and seemed pretty sound. Quite a few of the officials had been sufficiently taken by my distress at least least to try to help. This guy was another who said he would direct me to one of senior stewards. But there was just something about this guy that meant I allowed one last ember of improbable optimism to glow unextinguished.
“Mate, all I need is one guy to hear me, to believe me, to understand what is this means and to think beyond the staple response — I know you shouldn’t let me in, that stands to reason, but please be that guy who takes a chance and who rescues a fellow human being from an anguish he does not deserve...” Or words to that effect.
He took me to his boss and once again I explained what had happened.
This time, the guy asked me “Where are you sitting?”
Yes. Here was a hint, however small, that this might come good…
I couldn’t even remember where my seat was exactly, I was in such a daze. I got my phone to show him and my efforts to call up the photo of my mate’s ticket were nervous and fumbling. It took me forever and I had to reset the brightness of the screen and I struggled to zoom in on the details. I was losing it.
“Right,” he said, and he walked up to one of the exit doors and banged on it.
Oh my God, I thought, he is actually going to have someone go and check that the seat is empty. Ten minutes into the game and I actually might make it inside...
Someone opened the door from inside. I squatted in prayer.
“Come on then.”
He wasn’t checking with a colleague. He was holding the door open for me to walk in.
I was speechless. I hugged him as I went in, delirious.
“I’m taking you at face value here.”
“I swear on my life I’m not lying to you, I did have a ticket.”
I stumbled in and up the steps. Mentally drained, if I’m being honest. I went and found my seat and my mate who couldn’t believe I had managed to get in even though he said he had always believed… Barely had our celebratory reunion taken place when Darren Barr scored the opening goal for our celebrations to multiply and soar, joined as we were by 25,000 other Jambos in pure ecstasy.
You all know what happened over the next seventy-five minutes.
After the game I went in search of the steward who had come to my rescue. In my shattered state I had failed even to ask his name. It took me ages to track him down but I did manage to find him and I thanked him for what he had done, and took his email address. I promised him I would email him a picture of my real ticket. And I promised him I would auction it on ebay and donate the proceeds to a charity of his choice. Without hesitation he identified Breast Cancer Campaign.
Everyone has moments in their lives where they need a stranger to do them a turn, to lay rules and regulations to the side for the greater good. This gesture is something that I can do to reward this man for being the karmic conduit I was praying for in that desperate, horrible situation.
I am delighted to be offering up my perfectly intact Scottish Cup Final ticket for auction. Unfolded, unbroken, pristine:
Moreover, I have set up a JustGiving page in honour of my deliverer and to raise money for the cause of his choice. I hope that anyone who can relate to this story might see fit to make some kind of donation to a very worthwhile charity.
Thank you for your time, and ’mon the Hearts.
Running a Loch Ness Marathon for the Sunshine Appeal https://mydonate.bt..../alasdairsmith1
Posted 31 May 2012 - 02:59 PM
Posted 31 May 2012 - 03:03 PM
Posted 31 May 2012 - 03:04 PM
Posted 31 May 2012 - 03:06 PM
- "On 18th September 2014 between the hours of 7am and 10pm, absolute sovereign power will lie in the hands of the Scottish people." J Sillars 2014
Posted 31 May 2012 - 06:01 PM
Edited by Squirrelhumper, 31 May 2012 - 06:04 PM.