Nervous but confident: being a real supporter and preparing for Saturday

By Walter Broeckx

Cup final day is nearing. And so the nerves are slowly creeping in. Of course there are nerves.

And it’s not because we have won twice against Hull or that we will have an easy job in the Cup final.

In fact have you ever remembered Arsenal having an easy job in the final? To be honest I really cannot remember it. I remember we were much better than Manchester United in the 1979 final and were cruising with being 2-0 up. And still it needed a crazy 5 minutes to get us over the line in the end.

All the other cup finals, even when we were very much the better team and deservedly won, it was never really with a high and comfortable score line. I think our oldest and wisest contributor Nicky will probably say: this is Arsenal. It never is easy. We always make it difficult for ourselves. This is part of our history.

And we had a few painful cup defeats in our history. Losing matches against teams we should (on paper at least) beat. But playing on the pitch of Wembley is different than playing it on paper. Or on your computer screen.

Because you never can take the opposition for granted. After all it is also their only chance to shine. And so we can expect a team that will be up for it. No matter what their league form has been lately, this is another competition. Another match. This is a final.

Now with almost all our players being fit or near to completely fit I feel of course much more confident. Because I know that when we have our best players available we can beat any team in the world. I don’t say we will beat any team in the world but we are capable of doing it.

But that is the problem.  Being capable of doing it and doing it on the pitch is a big difference.

There are also outside factors to keep in mind. Like the ref. Probert. One of our bogey refs till this season. Appointing Probert for this game was like the appointment of Dean for our lost league cup final. But the difference is that as we have had him 3 times at home this season we could overcome him as he is a home referee. So it will be very important for the Arsenal fans in Wembley to make it known to Probert that we are the home team. So do make some noise!

Alas I will not be in Wembley. The ticket allocation for Arsenal supporters made it clear rather quickly that without the Arsenal directors or Wenger inviting me over in person I would have no chance to be there. Or look for touts. Which I don’t do. I only did this once and no more as I now know it is illegal. So I’m sorry but I will not be sitting in the stands at Wembley.

But I will come over to London. I could have opted to stay at home and sit in my comfortable sofa and watch the game on my big TV screen. But I wanted to feel it differently. Because if we do win the match I would have to hug myself and embrace myself. And this is a match that if we win, I surely would feel the need to feel other Gooners around me.

I want to jump up and down with other Gooners when we score. I want to fall in the arms of whoever will be sitting left, right, in front or behind me when we score. I want to share the joy and passion with others. So I could go to the pub in Antwerp where most of our fans from Belgium will gather to see the match.

But I opted for the best next thing compared to Wembley. Together with some 8 or 9 other supporters from Belgium we will drive all the way up to the Emirates and get our tickets for the screening on the big screen inside the Emirates. A trip that will make me leave my home at 8.00 in the morning and I probably will be back home around 5.00 the next morning.

If you look at it from a distance … I must be crazy. Having the chance to see the match in the perfect conditions of my house with all the luxury I have for free. Watching the game in the pub with friends at a little cost at half an hour away from my house. But I decided to go to London and be up for around 24 hours without sleep. You must be crazy, people will say to me who don’t understand football.

And in fact they are right. I am crazy. I am crazy about Arsenal. Reason goes out of the window when Arsenal is playing. And certainly when we can in something. But this is what most of us on Untold are. Crazy about Arsenal. And I am just a lucky guy that has the opportunity and the chance to make such a trip.

And of course I hope that my presence in the Emirates will inspire the team to give us a master performance on the day.

For our last match in the Nike shirts I would like to use the slogan Nike has used so many years: JUST DO IT!

Also published….

Today is the anniversary of Arsenal’s greatest moment.  15 May 2004.

And the books

17 Replies to “Nervous but confident: being a real supporter and preparing for Saturday”

  1. Great write, thanks. I wish for a wonderful game to will be won by the Gunners.

    Now, say, if one was trying to get a ticket for the game, any’s got any ideas on how to get one?

    I need answers soon, because i must leave Dubai by Friday morning if i am to make it to the game… I’ve seen a few sites offering tickets, but i’m not sure if they are reliable.


  2. I too am getting the proverbial butterflies in my stomach as the day nears .Or then again ,it really may have been some undigested caterpillars in the undercooked vegetables!
    For some reason this final keeps reminding me of that 2003 final vs Southampton .I have only a very vague recollection of it .And while Googling it , I found this..

  3. I hope the Arsenal is training on how to beat a parked bus, because if you can’t beat someone in two attempts over a season, what do you do in a cup final? park the proverbial bus. I expect Hull to do that.

  4. I don’t know where you live in Belgium Walter, but Google thinks it is a 4.5 hour drive (404.6km) and as easy as counting to 43 (assuming you are in Charleroi). There are people in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada who drive to Edmonton, Alberta to watch hockey games, also about a 4.5 hour drive. Look out for moose on the highway between Valleyview and Whitecourt.

    Driving directions to Emirates Stadium
    Charleroi, Belgium
    1. Head east on Rue Basslé toward Rue de la Science
    67 m

    [ steps 2 .. 42 deleted ]

    43. Turn right onto Hornsey Rd/A103
    Go through 1 roundabout
    Destination will be on the right
    350 m
    Emirates Stadium

    This assumes Google hasn’t goofed, and has you doing something dumb like driving across a mine field the army uses. 🙂

    Enjoy the game!

  5. arrrgghhhhhhhhh !
    i’m so excited already !??!?
    This is worse than Xmas.
    So sorry you’re not going to Wembley (YET !) Walter, but what a true fan you are !
    This is amazingly my 15th Cup Final. i’ve been lucky enough to go to everyone i’ve been old enough too since 87,(i was to young for 1980) bar the Chavski FA Cup final.
    My Favourite, Parma in Copenhagen, the whole atmosphere was imense, it felt all of London had decamped to Denmark for a p1ss up ! I remember bars all over the place running out of beer, impromptu games of 50 a side football, and endless singing !
    If you’re lucky enough to be going, remember those less fortunate so get right behind the boys!

  6. Thanks for that link Walter. The Day 3 interview with the historian was also interesting.

  7. The world-wide satellite broadcasting of the FA Cup Final on Saturday, will be an opportunity for millions, if not billions, of Arsenal supporters throughout our World, to watch their heroes perform on a global stage.
    The atmosphere at Wembley Stadium and at the Emirates will not be matched elsewhere, nevertheless a whole spectrum of emotion will be experienced wherever supporters of our great Club will be gathered before a TV screen.
    To follow Arsenal FC is not for the fainthearted. Historically, the team will regularly clutch defeat out of victory and vice versa.
    One could safely predict that during the game on Saturday, there will be bizarre incidents which could affect the result, from start to finish.
    The fact that Arsenal are clear favourites will mean nothing. The Cup Final is a one-off contest where the underdog will often triumph. Early nerves will play an important part, when mistakes must be avoided on both sides.
    Physically, later on, the notorious strength-sapping Wembley pitch will no doubt take its toll.
    Those 40,000 or so supporters who will be at Wembley might spare a thought for those of their fellows, in every country in the world, willing the team towards success.
    If it is not to be, then so be it for another season.
    It would not be the end of Arsenal’s world….merely another
    setback to overcome and record into history.
    In a few months’ time the Summer Transfer Window will have arrived, there will be some pre-season games and then a new season to test players and supporters alike.
    After all, football’s only a game 😉

  8. Looking at teams which gave Arsenal problems this season , two sets of skills come to mind; Pressing high up the pitch and powerful transition game. Hull City are capable of neither. Their best chance for catching Arsenal will be from set pieces and shots from distance by Huddleston.
    Arsenal must avoid giving up cheap fouls in the area and corner kicks. The best Hull can hope is for this game to go to penalties.

  9. Every reason to be a bit nervous, I expect hull to have a game plan, to give everything. We cannot let probert have a field day….lots of set pieces and even a red card against us if we are not careful with this guy. If Szcz plays, he must be careful.
    Hull have nothing to lose, few if any with the World Cup on their minds, and they may think this is their time, Steve bruce is very popular with the LMA …who may or may not have a bit of a relationship with the pgmol…and homegrown managers who will no doubt be telling him arsenal don’t like it up em, but , their two main strikers are missing, we have the better team, the space of the pitch will suit our players, we are generally good against those below us this season, and we have Ramsey.
    Yes, we could freeze, implode or just not turn up, but I think this lot will not do that. Wenger also knows what is at stake. I hope and expect you will have a very rewarding trip over here Walter.

  10. Walter, I am glad you will be in London to enjoy the match with a crowd of Arsenal fans. But even more I hope that you bring us the luck you have already brought us this season. Never mind that the match is actually taking place in Wembley! Anyway, I’ll be in the ground too – not as heroic a journey as you as I only live a bus ride away. Impossible to turn down the chance to be at the ground. Hope it’s a great day for us all.

  11. Maybe it’s not possible for you to stay on, but if we win there will be a parade on an open topped bus on through Islington on Sunday morning.

  12. Yes nerves starting, although right now its hunger! I an taking an Indian mate who I have converted to an Arsenal fan. – for some reason he hates cricket of today!
    Anyway, to sydney, parramatta it is at The Armoury which is the home pub of sydney gooners club. Kickoff at 2am and winter is upon us. Meeting mate at 9pm, train to parra to eat dinner at pub then start drinking till it’s over!
    Like you Walter I couldn’t stay at home warm, on couch with big tele. I need to be around fellow gooners….
    It wont the easy but we can do it!

  13. Yes, a little nervous, we all know what’s at stake. My brother(ManU) says we will fail, but he is trying to rile me, so i said well you’ve failed already.
    Anyway to all gunners and gooners everywhere in the universe and all Arsenal ancestors(who will also be watching) i wish us all a great day.
    Come on Arsenal.

  14. I am glad you will be in London to enjoy the match with a crowd of Arsenal fans. But even more I hope that you bring us the luck you have already brought us this season. Never mind that the match is actually taking place in Wembley! Anyway, I’ll be in the ground too – not as heroic a journey as you as I only live a bus ride away. Impossible to turn down the chance to be at the ground. Hope it’s a great day for us all.

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