Yesterday's cup game between Everton v Wigan was one of the strangest games I've been to in my life. The expectations were high, the excitement was high and yet 4 first half minutes just completely and suddenly diminished all those hopes, expectations and excitement.
It was weird because we expected Everton to win, the game started off even but then Wigan began to look the better team; they hit the post and had a couple of other good chances. So the atmopshere grew nervous but it was still 0-0. And then all our hopes and dreams of Wembley, a cup semi- final, a weekend in London and the prospect of going twice were just dashed in about 4 minutes.
It was enough of a blow when Maynor Figueroa headed in a free header at the back post (Everton's main, frankly appauling weakness- defending set- pieces and hardly ever winning the header despite bringing everyone back) to put Wigan 1-0 up but then Phil Neville's suicidal pass setting up McManaman to make it 2-0 was gutting. My head was in my hands after he ran in on goal and doubled Wigan's lead. Anyone would've thought Bale had just put Tottenham 2-0 up in the North London derby.
And then about a minute or so later Wigan came on the attack again and slid in a 3rd from the edge of the area, again from sloppy defending, allowing the pull back so easily and no closing down of the shot. I couldn't believe it, in fact the whole ground was in total disbelief. When do you see any team score 3 in 4 minutes? And a team like Wigan as well in a tough away game. It was unbelievable. All hopes dashed in a matter of minutes. All of a sudden from 0-0 to 3-0 and the game being all but over. It was hard to take.
It was mentally shattering, all these hopes and excitement about Wembley were just ended in such a frustrating way. The closer you get to something you want, the more it hurts when you don't get it. It was like being starving hungry and somebody waving a plate of steak and chips in front of you before just pouring it in the bin as your stomach rumbles.
I'm still suffering from utter disappointment, regret and frustration now and will be on and off for a while. It does hurt that we've missed out on Wembley and a trip down for it when we were expecting it so much. Especially after the excitement of it last year, the great night in Sunderland to set up a Wembley date with Liverpool of all teams and being manically giddy about that for the next couple of weeks and doing things like booking train tickets, a hotel and organising where we were going to sit in the ground- it was all part of it and to miss out on that and knowing we could be going through that again now just hurts. Who'd have thought Everton could frustrate and disappoint me so much when I'm not even an Everton fan? It actually hurts more than last Sunday's North London derby defeat.
So overall it was just extremely frustrating and strange that our hopes were smashed to bits within a matter of minutes, and not even to a good team. It was hard to digest and I'm really disappointed. Wembley will have to wait for at least another year now. And what's more, we'd have probably been able to go twice this year as they would have drawn Millwall or Blackburn in the semi- final.