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June 2021

Being in Wembley, part two. The once in a lifetime experience.

By Walter Broeckx

Well I was there in Wembley as you could have guessed if you have read my article about living the Wembley dream.

Yes the trip was smooth and we arrived at our hotel near Wembley well in time and just in time to take the last parking space at the hotel parking. When I came in to my room I could see Wembley stadium and the arch above the stadium!

I took my wife with me to the shops around the stadium and she spent a bit of money. I must admit that this was the only moment I thought to myself: now just imagine our defence messes up and we get defeated…. but I said to myself: Walter, just enjoy this day that will be a one off if my life. A day that I thought would never happen. And the nerves went away. Even though I must admit that I couldn’t eat properly and just went for a chocolate croissant before the match.

Andrew came to the hotel and gave me the best thing I had ever received: a ticket for Wembley! After a drink in the hotel we went to the stadium. Just around the corner. We passed the Arsenal bus that was standing ready to leave their (more expensive) hotel for the short trip to the stadium. And then on we went to get in to the stadium. I had been in Wembley for the semi final against Wigan a few years ago but this time it was the real thing. Win and we would be over the moon…. defeat would mean a terrible long trip back home.

The stadium filled up nicely and as the Arsenal players were doing their possession training right in front of us Andrew noticed that they players were really up to it even at that moment. You could see a real determination even in the warming up.

Then came the community singing and that was something I really looked forward too as it was one of those things that appealed to me when watching the cup final as a kid. A minute of silence for the Manchester suicide attack victims and then it was : game on!

From the first minute on we were in the match and on top. And when Alexis scored most of us went crazy but I had noticed (they eye of the referee) that the assistant had raised his flag. I knew Alexis was not offside but still it was a long wait before Taylor gave the goal. Well, some celebrated the goal twice this way.

We kept on dominating and when Özil chipped the ball over Courtois I thought it would be 2-0 but alas Cahill managed to kick the ball away just in front of the goal line.  Chelsea had a rare attack but Per was on hand to first get the ball away and then throw himself in front of the shot to block it.

Arsenal won a corner and Welbeck headed it against the goal post….the ball bounced up to Ramsey who tried to chest it in the goal but it ended up against the outside of the same goalpost and went out for a goalkick. We really should have been 2-0 in front by then. It should have been 3 a bit later when Welbeck clipped the ball over Courtois but as he was stumbling he couldn’t reach the ball anymore and Cahill once again could clear the ball in front of the Chelsea goal…. Oh please don’t let missing all those chances bite us back later in the match I prayed.

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Pedro got a shooting chance but fired over the Arsenal goal but the Arsenal attacks were much sharper than the Chelsea attacks. Rob, Per and Monreal really holding things together at the back and apart from one little miss from Holding that gave Costa a chance that was saved by Ospina the PL champions couldn’t really produce much goal mouth danger.

In the second half we had to concentrate on defending a bit more. Chelsea came more at us but then it was time for our BFG to really step up. His long legs stopped more than one cross from becoming dangerous and he was there for every high ball that was aimed at the heart of our defence. Arsenal now more playing on the counter but the best chance fell for Bellerin whose low shot was saved by Courtois.

Then came the sending off from Moses. Moses had deservedly got a yellow card for stopping a promising attack from Welbeck and minutes later threw himself to the ground in the penalty area with no contact whatsoever. I couldn’t see it from my birds nest position high up in the stands but Taylor made the only correct decision he could make: call the dive for what it was and give a yellow card against Moses.

Arsenal then had a period where we should have killed off the match. Some impressive play by Xhaka and Ramsey who dominated midfield all afternoon but not enough end product. Still only 1-0 up but with a man more what could go wrong? Oh well with Costa on the field it can go wrong. One cross and both Holding and Mertesacker gave a little bit of room to the Chelsea striker whose bouncing shot went in. 1-1. Ah f*ck….all those missed chances…..

Let me now say a few words about the supporters in Wembley. Let me say SUPPORTERS! Because from the start of the match we were completely and fully behind the team. What an electric atmosphere. My wife Carine was following the match outside the stadium for a while and then in our hotel room where she could hear the atmosphere from the stadium. She only heard Arsenal songs and heard us shouting for the Arsenal. Not only the team was the better one on the field but also the supporters in the stand won the battle against the Chelsea supporters.

And when it turned 1-1 there was a short moment of disbelief… some grumbling (which is normal after the opposition scored a goal) but that turned in to a Come On Arsenal!!!! and we just got behind the team when we restarted the match. Giroud came on….ran in to space, cut a cross back in front of goal and would you f*cking believe it….. there was our One Aaron Ramsey and he headed the ball over the line!!!! GOAL and our end erupted in a way that could have lifted the roof from the stadium. 2-1 in front again with 11 minutes to go!!!!

Chelsea tried to do something in return but apart from one chance for Costa that was blocked by Ospina the best chances were for The Arsenal. Bellerin with a long run, rounding Luiz and then shooting just wide…. oh how I would have wanted him to score that goal. And then Özil came with a brilliant attack. He also rounded the last defender… had a low shot on goal at the near post that had Courtois completely beaten….but he ball hit the post and bounced against the leg of Courtois in to a corner….. Could you believe that? We couldn’t in fact but we saw it happening. We hit the post twice in this match and had the most clear cut chances. We completely deserved to win this match.

Four minutes of extra time in which we tried to play out the time, not always successful but finally Taylor put an end to this match.

We had done it! And I was there! It had happened right in front of my eyes!!! This wasn’t the best moment of my life. As best moments in life should be happening in our private lives. But this surely was my finest moment as a Gooner since I started supporting the club in 1979. Being there to see it, to feel it… live in Wembley. My childhood dream didn’t turn in to a nightmare but it turned out to be the finest moment as an Arsenal supporter.

My oh my… this is something I will carry with me for the rest of my days. I was there when Arsenal broke the record of winning most FA cups. I was there when  Lord Wenger broke the record of being the most successful manager of all time. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this record will never be broken ever again! So eat your humble pie and bow your head for this amazing record. In 100 years time his name will still be mentioned as the biggest manager in FA cup history ever! Eat your heart out!

I will just enjoy that I was there to see it happening. And I can only thank Andrew once again for giving me this opportunity to be there. I cannot thank you enough Andrew. As I said after the match: I am in your debt for ever!

What a day! Later that night when I was in my bed I looked outside the window and saw Wembley stadium and the arch. I fell asleep again with the biggest grin ever seen on my face.

10 comments to Being in Wembley, part two. The once in a lifetime experience.

  • bjtgooner

    Very pleased you enjoyed the experience – what a lovely trip for you and for your wife – I hope she is feeling much better these days.

    We played really well & Chelski could not properly compete, certainly they could not dominate the game the way the pundits expected them to.

    A wonderful end to the season for all Arsenal fans and especially for you Walter – the most loyal and sensible of all supporters!

  • insideright

    I was further round behind the goal Walter but if I’d known you were there I would have fought my way round to shake your hand and thank you for your unstinting support and wise words throughout this season and before.
    The team and its management made us all very proud.

  • Gord

    Thank you Walter. Very nice to hear that you and your wife had a good trip to the game and back.

    ESPN (the worldwide leader in being ESPN) started saying something a few hours ago about ….

  • Arthur

    Fantastic report, Walter! I really enjoyed it.

  • colario

    It was truly a great day.
    Arsene said that this time he is keeping his medal. So he should, he deserves it – 7 times.

    How fortunate you were to be there and witness it.

    Looking back on the day I rememebr that what happened, what wasn’t suppose to happen. Not just the result but how the team achieved the result.

    The fast exciting, attacking, entertaining football that Arsene loves his team to play and so it was, from the first moment to the last.

    And you were there to see it – a dream come true.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Again , another good article , Walter . Luv’ed it! Glad you had a great time .
    Will join you all one of these days.
    Real soon .

  • Nigel

    I am really pleased for you Walter, what a terrific experience. Great of Andrew for inviting you to attend with him. Would have loved to have been there myself and was going to attend the screening at the Emirates but understandably that was cancelled due to the horror of Manchester.
    The only final I have attended was the replay in ’93 and my memories of that last minute of extra time victory are still crystal clear and my wife, daughter, son and myself stayed behind well after the match and met some of the players including Wrighty. So I know just how your feeling.
    Good to know the supporters were so behind the team as it doesn’t come out as clear on the television. They were also so caring and polite as they waved Moses goodbye!!!
    Thank you for all your reports throughout the season and look forward to more in the next one. Hope it finishes on a high as well.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Amazing, what a privilege!
    Hopefully, more good news this week….hopefully

  • Menace

    There was a moment soon after the start when a long ball to our right was missed by Holding & collected by a Chelsea player. It was dangerous but our defence rallied & pushed them back & then it was all Arsenal.

  • Rantetta

    I couldn’t be more pleased for you and your wife, Walter.

    A lovely report, as always. It is so fitting that you got to see this final. Your tireless work for Untold over all these years has been astonishing.

    In the previous article Andrew mentioned you & Carine going to the shops.
    As your wife came with you recently I truly hope her health is much, much better. Andrew referred to “walking”. (I remember reading that Carine had to use a wheelchair, so I pray any improvements continue).

    I hope your attendance at Arsenal games, including finals, increases.