Olympic football – as good as the real thing?!

Way back when Olympic tickets were first available, we applied for a number of events and got… nothing. Second time round we got football. Two games. One in Manchester and one in Cardiff. Neither of which is exactly local. No idea who was playing. But they were OLYMPIC tickets, this was once in a lifetime and, for our kids, Olympic football is still the Olympics. Even if we’re rather a long way from London.

People looked down their noses at our football tickets. It’s not the 100m final, it’s FOOTBALL for goodness’ sake. And it’s not even in London.

I’ve been excited about the Olymoics for a long time. I even took my family on a trip to London at Easter specifically to see the Olymic stadium read about it here, but we didn’t get any nearer than the shopping centre.

Here’s some of our photos from that visit.

Olympic stadium, London 2012, Olympics
London 2012, Olympics

Surely Old Trafford would be as good? All the branding would be there. I imagined/ hoped Wenlock and Mandeville would be outside. I’m a bit obsessed with Wenlock and Mandeville, ever since my eledest started learning about them way back at the start of Year 5, nearly two years ago. He’s been acquiring Olympic merchandise ever since.



Wenlock, London 2012, Olympics, London, Paddington

Yep, I really love Wenlock and Mandeville.

And then the Olympics started. The stadium! The velodrome! The aquatic centre! I would have given my right arm just to be wandering around the Olympic park, let alone inside watching Team GB bring home a gold medal.


We started trawling the internet in desperation for tickets. To anything. In London. For all five of us. Maybe just for the grown ups. Rational cost considerations were going out of the window, along with ‘minor’ considerations like whether I could get the day off work. What about Paralympics?! Sometimes it looked like we would get something, but it never came good. I was never going to get to the Olympic park.

But I was going to Old Trafford.

So was it as good? In a word, no. Not as good as I’ve seen on telly, not as good as the hallowed turf (or water or Pringle-shaped scary cycle track) of the Olympic park of my imagination.

The branding was alll there and all recognisable, the atmosphere was good and the attendance was 70,000! Not bad for Egypt v Japan in the quarter finals. But Wenlock and Mandeville (I still never really remember which is which – they’re like Ant and Dec) weren’t there and it just wasn’t shiny and new. It wasn’t in London.

Old Trafford, Olympic football, London 2012


I got behind the game and I quite enjoyed it. I think the kids did too. They’d decided for no apparent reason to support Egypt. But I had decided I like Japan. You see a lot of Japanese tourists round our way and they always seem very nice. And they look cool. And their goalie was dressed in head to toe pink. What’s not to love?!



Japan were one up pretty quickly, Egypt didn’t get a look-in for about 25 minutes. Egypt had a man sent off and Japan were by far the superior team throughout the game, but it wasn’t until about 75 minutes that they scored again. And again five minutes later.

So we’ve been to the Olympics. We’ve seen Japan thrash Egypt 3-0 in the mens’ football. The kids can tell their grandchildren they remember London 2012, they were there (sort of). And on Friday we’re doing it all again for the bronze medal match.



We don’t know who will be playing, but sadly it most definitely won’t be Team GB.


Author: Sarah Mummy

Share This Post On


  1. Good for you. I think Olympic football has a completely different look and feel about it. As you’ve already discovered, you don’t even have to support either of the teams to enjoy the spirit of the Games.

    The people of Cardiff do seem to have embraced the football tournament, so I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic day x.

    Post a Reply
  2. As I said to my kids, we were there to enjoy the football – not to support a particular team – and that was quite refreshing. The Japanese play like they seem to do everything – with precision and politeness – none of the amateur dramatics.
    I’m looking forward to Cardiff now (although still wishing I was in London!) x

    Post a Reply
  3. It was! I keep thinking ‘London next time’. Then remembering there is no next time! This is it!

    Post a Reply
  4. oh well – it still counts you went to an olympic event. Why don’t you go down to the South Bank – they have loads of the mascot statues dressed in traditional get up and the atmosphere is great with giant screens and also in hyde park x

    Post a Reply
  5. It’s still an Olympic event !!!

    That said you have to get to the Olympic park. During the paralympics it is rumoured that the £10 Olympic park tickets will be on sale again and it is so worth it even if you can’t get event tickets. The kids will love the huge McDonalds and just sitting in Park Live watching it on TV is exciting (its a massive 2 sided TV floating on a river, whats not to like!!!). I only went into the main stadium so all I got to see was the outside of the Velodrome, Basketball, hockey, copper box, aquatics centre and all of the other bits but it was still AMAZING. If you need a base for an early start and we are around, crash at ours the night before (although it is still 1.5 hours door to door) As you say it is once in a lifetime and you should get some amazing pics.

    Post a Reply
  6. Thanks very much, Natasha! We might just do that. We need some of that ‘real’ Olympic atmosphere.

    Post a Reply
  7. Japan are awesome at the football. Always so tenacious and precise. I would’ve loved to have seen the game!
    Still, you have photos of the famous London Olympics symbol. You were totally there!!!

    Post a Reply
  8. Thanks, Grace, I was, wasn’t I? It’s just being greedy to want to go to London! In the end we saw Japan twice, because we saw them in the bronze medal game in Cardiff too – and they were fab, but sadly beaten by Korea.
    Thanks for letting me know, Catherine, I think we’d reluctantly reached the conclusion that there was to be no more Olympics for us. (Still hoping to get to Paralympics though!)

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: