That Popular Place at This Time of Year….
Wednesday 22nd April 2015
Only 2 clubs in England will still have on field business to complete come the morning of Saturday 30th May. To know we are one of them is hugely satisfying. Again.
Surely however, especially as Arsenal supporters, any of us who thought getting through Saturday’s semi final would be a stroll in the park can only be described as foolish! When have we EVER made things easy for ourselves!? Those kind of emotions could also be described as cocky or arrogant perhaps. They certainly show a degree of disrespect to our opponents on the day. Which brings me to my next point…..
We are all guilty sometimes I feel of forgetting there are two teams in every game. We only consider our own assets (and issues) and never the fact there will be eleven or more other human beings out there who have reached this stage of the competition on merit and will be giving every last drop of effort to try and progress instead of us. On paper, of course we were big favourites to go through. But every single week, many of those ‘expected’ to be victorious are overcome on the day. Topically, just ask ‘favourites’ Liverpool and ‘favourites’ Celtic how their weekends went.
Being our 4th visit in the last year or so, tried and tested pre-match plans that first went fantastically well this time 12 months ago when we took on FA Cup holders Wigan were put in place once again and they proved no less successful on this occasion.
An early start on a gorgeous sunny morning saw us enjoying some brekkie in North West London before taking in all the build up in a fine hostelry, one that was also hosting our friends from Liverpool 24 hours later. I have no idea if their pre-match ‘party’ was as enjoyable as ours, one thing I do know however, the rest of their day was much much worse.
That walk up Wembley Way is special. For me, it always will be. No matter how many times I do it in support of our great club it will stir incredible emotions in me. That alone means I want to do it time and time again. Saturday was no different of course and despite our huge ‘favourites’ tag I was racked with PMT and nerves. Yes, we should win. But, even after all these years, I remember York away. And Wrexham away where we lost as League Champions to a team who only just avoided being relegated into non-league football just a few months earlier. I also remember how much we needed to battle to overcome Wigan just twelve months ago, a match of attrition that completely shredded the nerves.
Wembley Way has changed a little down the years of course and the ‘Holy Grail’ at the end of it has been completely rebuilt. That view from Wembley Park tube station however, is still nothing short of awesome and sends shivers down your spine as the reality of the day kicks in. The twin towers will always be embedded in the memories of all football supporters old enough to have seen them but in its own modern way the new ‘arch’ gives rise to similar emotions.
Approaching the stadium we still have the slope that splits with the majority of one teams’ fans heading up one and their opponents the other. Having walked together down the previous 800 yards or so, you can almost hear the phrase ‘let battle commence’.
On each of our three recent visits we have taken the right hand fork and given how successful each trip has been, heading this way again felt ‘right’ whether you believe in lucky omens or not.
One game from another FA Cup Final. Let’s get this done boys.
The game itself, was a little disappointing. Whilst dominating the vast majority, we weren’t at our best and Reading defended extremely well. To suggest we were lucky however, is ridiculous in my book. We created pretty much all the chances throughout, had far more corners and hit the woodwork twice. We all know Reading’s goalkeeper made a howler for our winner in extra time but Chezz made a similar mistake that prevented us from winning 1-0 in normal time. All irrelevant when people read the history books in years to come of course but if you were an alien and this was the first game you had ever seen you would say the team who came through victorious deserved to do so.
Neutral supporters I know and respect said we played ‘ok’ and always looked in control. And d’you know what? We are through to the FA Cup Final. So I don’t care anyway. Awesome. Job done.
Apart from the usual scramble for the paltry amount of tickets the FA always allocate for the game and that buzz and air of anticipation that inevitably and expectedly builds over the coming weeks, we can now put our admirable defence of the FA Cup on the backburner. Concentration must turn to our six remaining home games, starting of course with Chelsea’s visit on Sunday afternoon.
I don’t do blue.
I’m red to the core.
And I don’t mind a yellow ribbon in May either!
Victoria Concordia Crescit.