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The Cup Final: what was it like to be there? Part One: pictures from the upper tier.

by Andrew Crawshaw

Following a convoluted series of events I was able to invite Walter to come over from Belgium to join me at the Cup final.  Regular readers will know that Walter in the house is always a good luck charm (particularly when accompanied by a larger group of Belgian Gooners).  I sent the invite to him about 23:00 one evening and by midnight he told me that he had ferries and hotel booked, I think he was keen to come!

Many texts later he told me that he and Carine had arrived at their hotel, a ten minute walk to the stadium, I was just finishing an early lunch at home in South London and said I would join them for a cup of tea at about 15:00.  My journey to Wembley was uneventful, London Overground to Canada Water and then Jubilee Line to Wembley Central followed by a 10 minute walk to their hotel about an hour and 20 minutes in total.

Walter and Andrew before the game

 

Here we are in the hotel lounge, me in my Cup shirt which hasn’t been beaten since I bought it in 2014 and Walter with his Belgian Gooner’s scarf and his yellow lucky local team scarf.

You may have read Walter’s story of his fascination with the English FA Cup Final but in a nutshell he has been watching them since his family first got a TV some 50 years ago (more or less).  He has been wanting to go to one ever since then.  As an Arsenal fan since later childhood, to come to one with Arsenal playing ensured that he was one very happy bunny.  He and Carine are also two of the nicest people I know and they are really great company.

We left early for the stadium, Carine heading to the shops and walked past the Hilton Hotel where there was a crowd waiting for the Arsenal Players to get onto the team bus for the 5 minute journey to the stadium

The Bus waiting for Arsenal players

 

Into the stadium very early and a trek up to our seats, row 38 nearly at the top of the stadium a vertiginous view.

The view from the upper tier.  The photo really doesn’t do justice to how steep the upper tier is.

We then had the usual sort of pre game happenings, Military band actually playing relatively ‘funky’ music rather than the standard marching style and then the players came out for their warm ups.  Cech was the first Arsenal player to appear and from his warm up there was no sign of the training ground injury he was reported to have suffered.  Walter and I both agreed that Ospina in goal wasn’t a detriment to our chances and, in the event of a penalty shootout would probably be a distinct advantage.

One thing I noticed about our team kickabout was that it was being done with an intensity that I have never seen from our team, they were certainly ‘up for this game’.

Chelsea had the first touch of the ball when they kicked off and in all honesty that was about the only comfortable moment on the ball they had for the first half hour or so as Arsenal simply blew them away.  The Arsenal support was absolutely fantastic, I wish we had this group of supporters in the Emirates every week, it would make such a difference – a positive spiral of play, noise and belief rather than the negative vibes which have been so prevalent at times this year.

Chelsea kick off

Wellbeck, Alexis and Özil were rampant and everyone else offered great support, we were composed, decisive in our passing and looked like the really good team which in our hearts we know we are but so rarely have shown this season.  Our opening goal had a touch of controversy about it – did Alexis handle the ball (in real time I thought it came off his chest but his arms were raised) and then Ramsey was clearly offside but didn’t touch the ball and Alexis (definitely onside) had an easy finish,  but the linesman had his flag raised.  At this point Mr Taylor went over to the linesman and conferred.  He then did something that caused both Walter and I some astonishment – he allowed the goal to stand!  The Arsenal end went wild with delight and the Chelsea end wild with indignation.

To the Arsenal One Nil!

Our domination continued for the first half and the only surprising thing was that it ended without any more Arsenal goals, with more clinical finishing and a bit of luck we could easily have been 3 goals up in the first half hour and the match out of Chelsea’s grasp.  It hadn’t been entirely one way though, a Costa dive earned Holding a yellow card and there were a couple of Chelsea players lucky to escape yellows as well but overall a very competent Arsenal performance.  A scare for Ospina after he was accidentally caught in the head by Costa but he was able to continue.

Ospina down

Arsenal kicked off the second half and Chelsea had clearly been given a talking to at halftime by Mr Conte as they looked far sharper forcing Arsenal to defend deeper and try to strike on the counter.  One such saw a very crude challenge by Moses earn him a yellow card. Mr Taylor had no choice at all it really was that blatant.

Then came the second decisive call for Mr Taylor, Moses burst into our penalty area with the Ox close behind him and tumbled to the ground.  We all expected his hand to point to the penalty spot but again no he didn’t he gave a free kick to Arsenal and pulled out his yellow card again followed by a red.  Moses had been sent off for a dive.  Thank you Mr Taylor, I really didn’t think that you would make that kind of decision (even though it was right).

Maybe we relaxed a bit as we were now playing against 10 men or maybe Chelsea dug that bit deeper but Costa (who else) eventually got a chance when he escaped from the pockets of both Per and Holding and struck a shot that neither could effectively block low to Ospina’s left and into the corner of the net.  Again the crowd then played their part with a guttural cry to our players to COME ON ARSENAL.  Giroud came on for Wellbeck and 40 seconds later chased a ball on the left side of the 18 yard area, hooked his foot round it and centred the best cross of the afternoon for Aaron Ramsey who was the only player who fancied getting into the penalty area and he stooped and CONQUERED!  One for you to savour in Switzerland, Christophe.

We then played sensibly to see the game out, nothing unnecessary, we created more chances, Özil with a beautiful piece of control but shot straight against the post, bounced back against Courtois and out for a corner and a late late breakaway by Elneny who lacked the confidence to finish but it didn’t matter as the whistle blew and Arsenal became the greatest club in FA Cup history and Arsène the greatest ever manager in Cup history.  Truly we felt that we were part of the Greatest Team the World has Ever Seen.

The Chelsea fans melted away from the ground before the medal ceremony but the Arsenal fans were rocking the joint for a good half an hour after the team climbed the stairs for their medals and the trophy.  A great day to be a fan and a fantastic occasion to witness.

One very happy Belgian

Chelsea End just before presentations

The Arsenal end before the presentations

A record breaking Cup win

Two heroes congratulate each other

19 comments to The Cup Final: what was it like to be there? Part One: pictures from the upper tier.

  • Gord

    Thank you Andrew.

  • Usama Zaka

    Thank you Andrew and Walter. Lovely read this. 🙂

  • blacksheep

    Thanks for this Andrew, lovely review. Brickfields will of course take you up on the lack of a catering report…

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thank you Andrew for this report. I wrote mine this night when I came home from a wonderful weekend in London (once again…)
    I must say it looks rather similar to my report apart from the pictures 🙂

  • nicky

    And me…..;)

  • Nick the Gooner

    My FA Cup Final Day and a few opinions

    Just a little story of how FA Cup final day went for me
    First – In 2014 and 2015 I was a season ticket holder and managed to be there – in 2015 I was only lucky enough to get a ticket on a second draw – so as a non season ticket holder I did not even try the massive number of ways to get a ticket through the back door. They belong to those who go every week and fork out to attend every week – not the hundreds who pay for a Wembley membership + cup final ticket and turn up colourless and hungry for the prawn sandwiches.
    I gave up the season ticket because football belongs on a Saturday – not Sunday or Monday at ridiculous O’Clock with bad transport and work looming the next day.

    So with my two sons (Now 4th generation Gooners in my Family) off to Holloway road
    I was not optimistic – sadly I thought we would be run ragged – and when a fellow Gooner asked for my prediction I let my views me known – but with an addition.
    I was there for the boys and Arsene – If we gave our all that would be enough and if we lost – next September I would be there in the rain on the North Bank – I wouldn’t give in And Arsene would have my support until he wants to go on his terms.
    What was so pleasing was the response i got not just from this fellow Gooner but all around Not a hint of the AAA (Anti Arsene Arseholes)
    So – we got our day – big way – thank you boys you were great
    And the AAA and Chelsea fans were as sparse as an icicle in the Sahara desert

    All in all a brilliant day – even Spud fans where I lived had wished us luck for the day – I enjoy the rivalry between us – but hate it when it spills in unintelligent hatred like the AAA have for a boss that has done more for us and British football than anyone else ever has.

    Please – Just one question for some views back
    It is highly rumored Arsene has signed the contract – his manor says he has – but he says it is down to the Board on Tuesday – so what is going on with the numskull board – they have no plan B.
    Kranky supposedly supports Arsene – so what is left to settle. I have bad feeling we are not been told something!!

  • Josif

    Wonderful! 🙂

    I guess all pre-Roman Chelsea fans are on the picture above.

    It was the best FA Cup Final I have seen. 🙂 For the first time in eight Wenger’s finals I had felt we were underdogs and that made this victory even sweeter.

    Did you know what Kante was thinking before our second goal?

    “It’s only Aaron Ramsey…”

  • double canister

    Well done for all the work you do on Untold.
    You deserved that Cup Final Win.

  • Mad Matt

    Great to win it at Spurs new ground

  • bjtgooner

    A great day for Arsenal and what a superb performance.

    A lovely finish to the season – as for Chelski – they were totally outplayed and their game deteriorated under pressure so that even their diving was not up to their normal championship winning standard.

  • Gooner S

    Glad you both enjoyed the day. I gave my ticket to my youngest son. I picked him up from the train station later that evening and he had lost his voice.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    @GoonerS

    I’ve only just got mine back!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ blacksheep – -29/05/2017 at 9:16 am – BEEEB ! Wrong guy , nicky’s the one who loves the catering report! I’m the one who WOO HOO , HOOs ! And tells jokes ! And loves bashing **** !

    Nice piece Andrew , thanks . And in truth , when they scored I wasn’t unduly worried as I knew that Walter was there and when we scored again , was waiting for the third . Was shocked that the ref blew his whistle before we scored again !What happened Walter ? Did you forget to wear your lucky Arsenal boxers or something ?

    We were good for at least another three goals , with all those good chances we had.

    The next day , my son who had gone to Oxford in early May to give a presentation , presented me with a few gifts that we had bought at the Ems. A ’71 Arsenal shirt ( he knows me well!) , an Arsenal tie and the commemorative ‘ Arsene Wenger 20 years Celebration set’ .

    And since we won , I hope that another new set is in the works with this FA Cup win as the first of many , many more trophies and many more happy memories .And I’ll personally come over to buy more stuff for myself !

    And Arsene , may God bless you with second wind in your further endeavours in your love for the Arsenal . But do pace yourself man, the second half is just beginning !

    Up the Gunners !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sorry .. that he had bought …

  • Nitram

    Brickfields Gunners

    “And Arsene, may God bless you with second wind in your further endeavours in your love for the Arsenal. But do pace yourself man, the second half is just beginning !”

    I love those sentiments. Beautifully put.

  • Menace

    A great report Andrew & truly a wonderful day for all gooners & a surprising one for Untolders. The game was truly one of the best performances by the Arsenal. They stayed on their feet & never gave Taylor an excuse. The Alexis hands in the air that Taylor didn’t see was our share of luck against Chelsea. We deserved it. The off side call was what I would expect of all assistants as it is not for them to decide interference but position.

    My voice has not returned & my throat is still sore…..but my heart is joyous. I’ve watched replays from everywhere & still enjoy the goals we scored & the ones we missed. It showed our class.

    Brickfields – WOO HOO HOO mate & enjoy the break. You might get a chance to see Arsenal when they come your way.

    Well done the Arsenal & all the Untolders who have shown their hearts in the right place.

    What a match!! What a wonderful result.

  • Andreas

    Wonderful post. I am elated with the manner of the win, the day was perfect and we were superb. I do feel however that The Wenger out brigade have damaged us beyond repair. The banners and planes have poisoned the club and humiliated us. The views will become more entrenched and the damage will continue the longer Wenger stays. When Wenger does go I firmly believe that we will suffer. I love the man and it depresses me the way the club is damaged by this vile ‘wenger out’ minority. When I sit with the fans I no longer feel I am with my ‘people’ but strangers. The joy of football is the unity, where is it at Arsenal? We are a divided club and it really saddens me. ‘Victory through harmony’? Our fans can’t understand the concept. We will pay a heavy price not because of Wenger, the board or the players but because our fans have become so divided and bitter. It is ridiculous that these fans have taken the joy out of loving my club. Sorry tor the pathetically sad post after a fantastic day. Please someone cheer me up. Wenger in.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Andreas -30/05/2017 at 12:32 am – They are NOT Arsenal Fans . Never were and never will be . Just ignore them . They have never mattered and never will !

    I for never one never unduly worry or fret about their mental health and well being. Let the poor and sad sods deal with it themselves. I have only time for true and faithful fans . In victory and in defeat .

  • Rantetta

    Thanks Andrew, not only for a great report but also for inviting Walter.

    There are beautiful comments here too. Thank you all.

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