Cup final thoughts: do smoke bombs damage your mental stability?

By Walter Broeckx

As Untold Arsenal is a site that talks about football in general and not only about Arsenal I would like to talk about the cup final in Holland. And there are a few links with Arsenal in this. And with articles written on Untold in the last months. And the Hull – Arsenal match wasn’t the only one that had to be stopped for a while because of some strange events happening.

Let us start with setting the scene. The final was played between Ajax v PEC Zwolle. Probably a team you never heard of before. Don’t worry, most people will never have heard about this club. Well, it is a club from the Dutch city Zwolle. As you could expect by the name. And their list of honour up to this weekend was as empty as can be.

They were founded in 1910 and in their 104 years of existence they had won nothing. They had been to the Dutch cup final twice but lost on both occasions. And that was in 1928 and in 1977. So a long, long time ago.

I don’t really need to say a lot about Ajax. If you don’t know Ajax you probably have never seen a football match in your life. The best Dutch club. The biggest list of honours of them all. 32 times champions of Holland, 18 times cup winners and four CL winners in Europe. But that was before the oil man stepped in.

The thought of Ajax even losing this final or even going to extra time was ridiculous before the match. The final started and within seconds the Ajax supporters began throwing smoke bombs and fireworks on the pitch. And the crazy thing was that it was towards the penalty area where their own goal keeper was standing! Completely crazy. The game was stopped so the fire brigade could do their job.

The game restarted and Ajax scored the opening goal within the first 2 minutes. Oh well game over most thought. And probably the same idiots from Ajax started another fireworks attack. Again a real bombardment was started at the Ajax penalty area. The ref couldn’t do anything else but call both teams back in the dressing room.
Edwin Van der Sar now director at Ajax came out on the pitch and said in no uncertain ways that the idiots had to stop what they were doing or they would risk Ajax losing the cup final with 0-3 and handing the cup to Zwolle. That seemed to help or they had run out of fireworks by then.

After an interruption of almost half an hour the cup final could restart. And what happened then will be minutes that will be remembered for all who feel something for Pec Zwolle.

In an amazing few minutes after the restart Pec Zwolle scored 3 goals in 13 minutes and took a 3-1 advantage. And just after the half hour mark they scored a 4th goal. Ajax being down 4-1 against Zwolle was unprecedented, unheard, unseen, unthinkable and even untold.

And shortly after half time Pec Zwolle added a fifth goal and went on to win the Dutch cup final with an historic 5-1 win over Ajax, the big favourites.

On the Ajax bench you saw Dennis Bergkamp sitting next to Frank de Boer the Ajax manager and thinking what was this all about. It was as if the fireworks had ignited the Zwolle players to an amazing fight back against a team that looked to be certain to win the cup.

As you know Untold has warned about fireworks, smoke bombs and flares before and has complained that the Emirates stewards seemed to be unable to prevent fireworks and smoke bombs being used by visiting fans. In this case the use of smoke bombs and fireworks worked against the team whose supporters had used them.

And apart from the link we have with Ajax because of Bergkamp it also is a reminder about never taking a cup final for granted. No matter who the opposition is and no matter how much you have won against them in the league. It counts for nothing once you enter the pitch on cup final day.

So let us not just think that we will win it just because we won twice in the league. No, it will not be that easy. Although of course I hope it will be an easy win for us in Wembley. But I’m not counting on easy wins in a cup final. And I hope the players will be as focused as needed on that day. And remember what happened to Ajax and prepare themselves with the needed respect.

And let us hope that our fans never behave like the idiots from Ajax. The questions to ask are how much it affected the Ajax players and how much it helped Zwolle to set out a different tactics after having gone down after just 2 minutes. We never know of course but it sure didn’t help Ajax to keep their focus. Maybe the players thought the match was in the bag and lost their concentration in the dressing room?  Maybe they were angry with their own fans?

In a way this shows how unpredictable football is and certainly in cup finals. Let us not take anything for granted. And let us hope that the misery caused by a part of the Ajax fans will not be followed up by other fans from other teams.

Untold has written strongly against the use of fireworks and smoke bombs. There just is no place for this in football stadiums and certainly not on the football pitch.  We’ve seen they can seriously damage people’s health.  Now we see they can affect entire games.


14 Replies to “Cup final thoughts: do smoke bombs damage your mental stability?”

  1. Tx sir, 4 d msg & d info. Wat a lesson… I just wanna bliv our playas won’t tk anythn 4 granted, with d memories of d then league cup final against Birmingham, Wigan’s triumph ova City, all still pretty fresh in minds…and hope our 9s supporters put not such a silly display as doz of Ajax did. COYG!!

  2. Walter,
    It sounds like Ajax developed an Arsenal blip…..
    clutching defeat from the jaws of victory.
    You don’t say how Zwolle manufactured their goals, but it serves Ajax right because of the actions of their fans.
    Reports of late suggest that this sort of moronic behaviour is spreading into the UK and I can see the day coming when there will be “airport style” security checks at all football grounds. What an indictment on behaviour at sporting events.

  3. I tried to add pictures of the inferno but with the way the site is running for the moment we still have some issues behind the scenes and I couldn’t add any pictures.
    There was fire all over the place in the penalty area during the bombardment. Just imagine if it would have hit a person, he could have been set on fire. Also the clothing of the players these days can catch fire very quickly and it can burn in to the skin.

  4. Nicky,

    an interesting question about how Zwolle scored their goals and something I had to add in relation with another article I wrote a few weeks ago and about how much luck had to do with winning matches. Something some people denied.

    Their first goal was a bit luck as it came from a deflected shot. So certainly a bit of luck on that occasion. And that was the moment the match was turned upside down.

    And about luck. After the match or even during on twitter someone posted a picture of the last meeting the manager of Zwolle had with his players and the instructions he gave to their players. I’m leaving out the tactical bits on this. But he also gave 5 points on why they could win the final. Things like ‘wanting to win it’, ‘believing that they can win it’. You know the usual stuff managers will say against their players.

    But very interestingly the manager also had written down one word: ‘Luck’.

    So even a top manager in Holland agrees with the fact that luck does play a big part in winning a match.
    Just like I said 😉

  5. I hope Arsenal players will produce another ‘toothless’ performance against Hull in the final. Hahaha. Sorry, Arty. Cant help it.

  6. Walter,

    Those who scoff when “luck” is mentioned as a factor in winning trophies mainly do so in order to antagonise the club. Any adult who has ventured into the real world knows that luck plays a big part in many of life’s endeavours. One of the most widely used phrases across all cultures is “Good luck”. This is not for nothing.

    I have personally seen too many instances where this most unconventional lady has played a great defining role to deny or malign her relevance. For goodness sake, we beat Birmingham City 3-0 both home and away only to lose to them in the dying minutes at Wembley due to fluke error from one of our best defenders. What else do the naysayers need?

  7. @Bootoomee,
    And what about the 2005 FRA Cup Final against Manure when we were totally outplayed for 120 minutes, only to win the game via the last penalty kick by our Patrick.

  8. Not sure where the FRA came from. Maybe because we had so many Frenchmen in the team!

  9. Oh Man U – theres loyalty for you. Give him time SAF said and they didn’t.

    Sadly Moyes will have a load of dosh & lots of time to watch the World Cup. He might even get an International job.

  10. @Bootoomee,
    I wasn’t being sarky but merely emphasising your view that in all walks of life from cradle to grave, luck plays a major role.

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