By Tony Attwood
There’s been a bit a bit of a fuss about FA Cup semi-final tickets as Emirates Airlines are offering tickets for the semi-finals and final at Wembley in exchange for 15,000 air miles. Given that I fly from time to time to Australia to see my daughter and have used Emirates on occasion, I might almost have enough.
Apparently if you use up airmiles in this way you can still pick which part of Wembley you want to sit in.
But of course the semi-finalists only get 32,000 tickets each for the stadium — the other 26,000 seats go to Club Wembley members and the “commercial partners.”
The airline have got 250 tickets for each semi-final and the final. The Football Supporters Federation have called for more tickets to go to “true fans,” although I am not sure why they assume that people with airmiles are not true fans. I’m a season ticket holder, but why can’t I also be a user of airlines?
But I do agree, we don’t need so many tickets going to the sponsors. However without them the FA would collapse, and although that would leave us in paradise I can’t see the old bunch of upper class twits committing suicide.
On the other hand I am not sure that the air miles sale is value for money. The tickets in the best part of the ground available to regular fans are not that expensive, and I think I would get more out of my airmiles if I used them for a plane journey than for a ticket.
As for buying a ticket, I have to say it got a little bit easier each time. Sign in to the club web site, straight in to the list of fixtures, find a section of Wembley that I want to be in, and there we are, one ticket for the semi-final.
The only bit that failed was the bit that was supposed to show me the view from my seat. Either I have managed to get myself sitting behind a whacking great pillar or else the software was faulty. Come the day we shall see.
Of course semi-finals are not a trophy – which is fairly self-evident given that winning the FA Cup is not a trophy either apparently, although I managed to celebrate it as a trophy twice in the last three years. But while some of the matches over the years blur a little in the memory the semi-finals seem to remain. Including being at the semi-final in the only season in which the semi’s were held at the Millennium Stadium. 2005, we beat Blackburn 3-0, and a huge swathe of their side of the ground remained empty. It was a shame, given the pressure to get tickets that year. Maybe they should have given them to the sponsor.
How will the numbers go this year? Obviously I don’t know but I’d be surprised if we didn’t sell out pretty quickly given that we have more season ticket holders than we have tickets. Although I noted in the past a fair number of season ticket holders do tend to give the semis a miss, and hold themselves in readiness for the final.
Mind you they can be hard going: penalties and extra time in the last two visits; hopefully not again. A straight victory for us would be nice.
As with the reckoning in terms of the final, Arsenal and Man U are locked together in semi-final statistics:
|7||West Bromwich Albion||20||10||10|
Further down the list there are a lot of jolly teams that have made it to the semi-finals but are no longer on the scene in terms of the higher levels of English football. Teams including
- Old Etonians (5)
- Oxford University (5)
- Royal Engineers (4)
- Old Carthusians (3)
- Queen’s Park (3) (Scotland)
- Swifts (3) (No longer in existence)
- Wanderers (3) (No longer in existence)
- Blackburn Olympic (2)
- Cambridge University (1)
- Clapham Rovers (1) (No longer in existence)
- Derby Junction (1) (No longer in existence)
- Marlow (1)
- Old Harrovians (1)
- Rangers (1) (Scotland)
- Shropshire Wanderers (1) (No longer in existence)
The figure shows the number of semi-finals played in.
I also like the fact that in 1885 one semi-final was played at Merchiston Castle School in Scotland. It was a replayed semi-final between Queens Park and Nottingham Forest. The first game had been played at a neutral ground in Nottingham. 12 semi-finals were played at Highbury.
Arsenal first got to the semi finals in 1906, and lost, and repeated the activity the following year, with another semi-final defeat. After that we had to wait for the second year of Chapman’s reign to reach the semi – against Southampton – which we won 2-1. We lost the final to Cardiff.
The following year there was another semi-final – this being our third defeat in four, to Blackburn Rovers. Then finally in 1930 we beat Hull (in a replay) to go to the final and beat Chapman’s old team Huddersfield 2-0.
There are some pictures from the first Arsenal final (although not the semi-final) on the Arsenal History Society website, as part of the series “Arsenal in the 30s”. That series (which currently covers 91 separate articles) is almost finished in its first run through, and covers every game, the transfers, the players and the related events in the country. It’s taken just under a year to get this far, and I really need to go back now and re-work each chapter, as I’ve discovered more and more as I have gone along – which is always the way.
Anyway, that was then, this is tomorrow, or something like that. The ticket is bought, I look forward to the match.
Arsenal History Books on Kindle
The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle. Full details are here.
Also available on Kindle, “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football” the only comprehensive history of the rise of Arsenal as a league club, and the attempts to destroy the club, from within and without. For full details please see here.
Both books are also available as paperbacks. Please see here.