My name is Ian Bullen; I am 45 years old and have been a
passionate Tottenham supporter for 31 years.
My best mate is Andy Spurrier and we have been watching
Spurs games together for over 25 years.
Unfortunately in 2004 I sustained a spinal cord injury
which has left me paralysed from the shoulders down.
This is our story of the events in our eyes on that day
in February, 2008.
So on Sunday February 24, Andy and I travelled to Wembley
to watch the Carling cup final. Our journey was going very smoothly
until we reached the notorious Hangar Lane junction on London's North
All we could do was follow the long tedious procession of
traffic heading towards this magnificent arena, despite this our
excitement became more intense not only because of Wembley's close
proximity, but from the familiar Spurs songs sung by Chas and Dave at
almost full volume pounding out from the stereo of the Renault Master
that we were travelling in.
Unfortunately I was too late to get an official disabled
parking position beside the stadium, which meant we had to park at the
bottom end of Harrow Road in an unofficial car park.
After parking we had still just less than one mile to go
before reaching the stadium. This last part of the journey was the most
annoying, it seemed as though every paving slab on Harrow Road was
cracked and crooked causing me to bounce around like a rag doll in my
Eventually we reached the top end of Harrow Road and
turned right into Wembley Hill Road, we were now completely surrounded
by Tottenham fans, a few Spurs supporters caught sight of me trying to
navigate my chin control wheelchair around the beer cans and other
obstacles lying in the road.
Suddenly out of the blue (or should I say white) came a
chorus of Yido, Yido!
This of course is a term of endearment given to true
Tottenham Hotspur fans, it felt good to be honoured in this way by my
fellow supporters, and I tried to shout "Up the Spurs" in response, but
my feeble voice could be barely heard.
When we finally reached the stadium both Andy and I
marvelled at its size and modern style. It certainly did not compare
with the traditional British style stadia that we had been accustomed
to. The spotlessly clean interior, escorted service from the stadium
stewards and escalators taking the supporters to the various levels
resembled a modern airport or shopping mall.
When Andy and I reached the spot where we would be
watching the game, we became completely dumb struck by the grandeur of
Wembley and said nothing to each other for the first few moments. We
just slowly surveyed each part of this absolutely beautiful Coliseum of
football, the lush green pitch, the rows upon rows of red seats leading
up to the roof structure that was supported by the giant arch.
A Spurs flag had been positioned in each seat at the
Tottenham end, with minutes to go before kick-off these flags were
flying with great pride and gusto.
It was a fantastic sight when the two teams walked out
from the tunnel, two large boxes that were safely positioned shot out
huge columns of flames that warmed our faces.
Lord Mahwinney, the chairman of the Football League was
introduced to the two teams starting with Chelsea; this was followed by
the singing of the national anthem. I love this moment of patriotism
which always seems to stir up the emotions in me.
22 flags bearing the names of each player who were going
to start the game for each side were also on display on the pitch.
Tottenham: Robinson, Hutton, King, Woodgate, Chimbonda,
Lennon, Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque, Berbatov Keane.
Chelsea: Cech, Belletti, Terry, Carvalho, Bridge, Mikel,
Lampard, Essien, Anelka, Wright-Phillips Drogba.
At last referee Mark Halsey blows his whistle for the
start of the first League Cup Final at the new Wembley Stadium and
within 23 seconds Spurs should have taken a 1-0 lead.
Chelsea full-back Belletti needlessly gives away
possession near the centre line, his wayward pass is intercepted by the
Irishman Robbie Keane who pushes forward and shoots at goal. His right
footed effort deflects off the thigh of Chelsea centre half John Terry
to go out for a corner.
After eight minutes Spurs come close to scoring again
when they were awarded another corner, Aaron Lennon sporting a very
bright pair of orange football boots takes this corner which finds the
head of Tottenham full-back Pascal Chimbonda, his looping header bounces
off the top of the crossbar. Within a minute of this Tottenham are on
the attack again, Robbie Keane moves to the left-hand side of the field
to receive the ball from Steed Malbranque, despite the close attentions
of Belletti and Lampard the Spurs centre forward provides a delightful
cross for his Bulgarian striking partner Berbatov.
Berbatov's header beats Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, but
goes wide of the right-hand post.
This is a fantastic start for Spurs, but we know we can't
keep on wasting good goal scoring chances.
On 38 minutes the deadlock was broken, but in favour of
Chelsea. Another reckless challenge by Spurs holding midfield player
Didier Zokora on Chelsea centre forward Didier Drogba forces the ref to
award a direct free kick near the penalty area.
Previous to this Chelsea came close from two other free
kicks from almost the same position.
The player who was fouled Drogba takes pole position
beside the ball; with a short run-up he strikes the ball with his right
foot which easily beats the wall and goalkeeper Paul Robinson.
The Chelsea end goes mad, with their blue flags waving
victoriously, but the only thing that could be heard from the Tottenham
supporters around me was the mutterings of obscenities.
Beating Chelsea was always going to be a difficult task,
but now we found ourselves 0-1 down against a side who do not concede
This theory was nearly proved wrong within the first
minute of the restart. Spurs goalkeeper Robinson kicks the ball deep
into enemy territory; this clearance finds the head of Berbatov who
flicks the ball towards Robbie Keane. Robbie turns and volleys at goal,
but unfortunately Chelsea goalkeeper Cech is right in line and easily
catches the ball.
After 60 minutes the score remains 0-1 in favour of
Chelsea, Tottenham manager Ramos decides to make a substitution, Pascal
Chimbonda is the player who will be replaced by Tom Huddlestone.
Spurs full-back Chimbonda is amazed at this decision and
slowly trudges off like a petulant schoolboy; he avoids all eye contact
with the Tottenham bench and heads straight for the tunnel. His
immature attitude angers the Spurs fans around me who express their
Malbranque drops back into Chimbonda's full-back position and Aaron
Lennon switches from right side of midfield to the left.
The mood darkens along with the Wembley sky, Chelsea
seemed to be in complete control, nullifying any potential threat of a
On 68 minutes Spurs pushed forward once more with Lennon
on the left, he cuts back and crosses the ball with his right foot which
finds Huddlestone who is closely marked by Wayne Bridge. The ball
bounces in front of Bridge who appears to push it away with his left
arm, the referee's assistant waves his flag and then places it in front
of his chest to signal handball.
Referee Mark Halsey points to the spot and gives a
penalty to Tottenham!
Dimitar Berbatov will be the man to take this crucial
spot kick right in front of the Tottenham fans, he steps up, Petr Cech,
arguably the world's best goalkeeper dives to his left, but the
Bulgarian marksman calmly side foots the ball into the gap left by the
The Spurs fans are ecstatic, including a wheelchair user
who was sitting beside me in the disabled section. At this point she is
now standing and dancing around as if she was a cast member of
My God ! Not only is Berbatov the greatest Bulgarian ever
to have lived, but he has Godlike healing powers also !
I tried out my own legs to see if the Messiah had blessed
me with the same gift, but unfortunately it wasn't to be, still stuck in
this fucking wheelchair, but at least it was now 1-1.
The Tottenham team are now playing with a new impetus and
vigour, the Spurs fans reflect that energy also, the decision to bring
on Huddlestone, who can pass the ball with fantastic accuracy and switch
Lennon to the left, was indeed a good one.
In the 80th minute Didier Zokora was then given the
perfect opportunity to score his first goal for Spurs and guarantee his
name in Tottenham folklore.
Didier intercepts the ball close to the halfway line and
plays a one-two with Robbie Keane at which point the Ivorian finds
himself in acres of space with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Zokora looks favourite to score and win the League cup
for Tottenham, but as he steps forward we could all sense uncertainty in
his body language , he shoots at goal, but the ball rebound's off Petr
Cech face, even then when the second chance falls to Didier he shoots
wildly wide with desperation. He knows that was the golden moment, his
disappointment and despair is plain to see, some of his teammates
console him, if only that chance had fallen to Berbatov, the Bulgarian
is coolness personified and surely would have made it 2-1.
There were still chances for Tottenham and Chelsea to
score in the last 10 minutes, but all of these were squandered, so extra
time of 30 minutes will be played to help decide the victors.
When referee Mark Halsey blows his whistle to signal the
end of the second half the Spurs players make their way wearily towards
the technical area.
Ledley King's well documented knee problem is something
that we are all concerned about, fortunately Tottenham have one more
player still available from the substitutes bench should we need to make
The large pitch at Wembley is energy sapping and players
like Aaron Lennon, Ledley King and Robbie Keane are clearly suffering.
The attendance is announced 87,660! These wonderful occasions should be
savoured and enjoyed, but at the time I felt very anxious and uneasy, I
seek some solace and encouragement from Andy, but his own expression
suggest that he is just as nervous.
The first period of extra time starts and it is obvious
that the tempo of the game is beginning to slow up.
Once again Aaron Lennon receives the ball and ventures
forward, Chelsea centre forward Nicolas Anelka clumsily barges into the
Tottenham winger causing him to fall to the ground.
The referee awards a free kick which will be taken by
Jermaine Jenas, the next moment will stay in my memory bank for the rest
of my life and many other Spurs supporters I expect.
Tottenham centre back Jonathon Woodgate goes forward for
this set piece and as the free kick is taken it looks as though Chelsea
goalkeeper Cech will be able to punch clear any danger from the penalty
area. Fortunately for Tottenham Woodgate makes slight contact with his
forehead before the ball reaches Cech, this is just enough to put off
the goalkeeper from the Czech Republic.
The goalkeeper does indeed make contact, but his
clearance finds the head of Jonathan Woodgate again which is just enough
to knock the ball into the empty net.
I am not a religious man, in fact I am a complete
atheist, but this does not stop me from looking up at the dark sky and
mouthing the words "Thank You".
Complete and utter pandemonium erupts around me, I tried
to focus on to the referee and his assistant just in case the goal is
not allowed, but it clearly is.
After the elation, there comes the realisation that there
is still another 26 minutes, plus added time to play! Up until this
point Chelsea had not attacked our goal with any venom, but we all know
that this will change and that Tottenham will spend the remainder of the
game defending in great numbers.
Most people would assume that my anxiety would have
subsided slightly from Woodgate's goal, but I now felt nauseous and even
worse than I did before. I think of my son James at home and how he is
feeling, kicking every ball and shouting encouragement at the
After 12 minutes of the first period of extra time Ramos
makes his last tactical change, it is so important that he gets this
right; the fourth official raises the board that has the numbers of the
players involved. Our never say die Irish centre forward Robbie Keane
will be replaced by defender Younes Kaboul. Robbie limps off slowly,
but the warm applause from the Spurs fans confirms his important
Now Spurs have a defensive team that will hopefully
shutout any danger in the last 18 to 20 minutes.
The referee blows for half-time, some Tottenham players
fall to the ground immediately so that they can receive treatment for
cramp, Gustavo Poyet and Ramos give out some last words of advice and
encouragement. The tension is so high that I take in some deep breaths
to help compose myself; I want this so much that I would sacrifice a
body part to guarantee victory!
Once again the two teams line up to play the last 15
minutes of this intriguing contest, the Spurs fans again give praise to
the Lilywhites, whatever happens I know I will never forget this
fantastic atmosphere, despite the feelings of anxiety and mental torment
I am fortunate to be here and experience this wonderful occasion.
Chelsea continued to push forward, but time and time
again Tottenham remain strong, the importance of Ledley King and
Jonathan Woodgate cannot be exaggerated.
With eight minutes to go Chelsea push forward again, the
ball is crossed in by full-back Belletti at this point Woodgate who is
closely marking Didier Drogba appears to man-handle the Chelsea centre
forward who falls to the ground inside the penalty area.
The referee blows his whistle!
At first we all presume that a penalty has been given, my
heart stops beating while this is confirmed, but thankfully Chelsea were
offside at the time of the cross, and a free kick is given to Spurs
The pressure mounts and Chelsea create more chances it
seems as though it is only a matter of time before they equalise.
Good goal scoring chances for Salomon Kalou and Joe Cole
are both saved well by Tottenham goalkeeper Robinson. Physical and
mental fatigue becomes apparent, but despite this Chelsea push on and
Tottenham defend resolutely.
Thousands of supporters including myself plead to the
referee to blow his whistle and end the game, we were now passed the
schedule three minutes of added time and Chelsea move forward one last
time, Kalou looks as though he is clear in the penalty area and about to
score, he shoots towards goal, but this is irrelevant because the
whistle has blown for the end of the game.
"We've done it, we've done it !"
Everything becomes dark; I seemed to be covered by
jubilant Spurs supporters who completely surround me.
I was desperate to see what was happening on the pitch
and the reaction of the players and coaching staff, but I stood no
chance. I was glad inside not just for me, but for the thousands of
loyal fans who were making the most of this moment; this victory should
be celebrated and enjoyed.
At last a chink of light as the scrum of supporters move
away from me, all of the Tottenham players are now at our end, some are
hugging each other, others dancing with arms aloft while the Chelsea
players make their way up the 202 steps to collect their losers medals.
It is now time for Ledley King and his troops to climb
these same steps so that they can take possession of their silver
trophy. It was difficult to look directly at the Royal box from our
position inside the stadium, so to save arching my neck I watched the
ceremonial handover on the big screen, this did not spoil my enjoyment
when Ledley and Robbie jointly raised the cup, a massive cheer,
fireworks and flames coincided with the lifting of the trophy to make
this day 24 February, 2008 a day to remember.
By the time we left the car park where the Renault Master
was parked it was 7 p.m. this meant we would probably not get home until
midnight, but this did not matter, we had beaten Chelsea at Wembley!
For the entire journey back home we listened and sang to
a Spurs compilation CD, even after the tenth time we did not tire of
these tunes. C. O. Y. S. !
Tottenham 2 Chelsea 1 (after extra time) (24/02/2008)
Carling Cup Final. Wembley Stadium.
That moment I
will never forget, Nice One Woody!