The FA Cup final is close now. So continuing our pre-game blogs from every continent, here's Rafal Mazur, from Arsenal Poland, representing Europe. He discusses unknown supporters, flying glasses and how the German Cup final nearly spoilt last year’s game.
Arsenal Football Club - for some it may only be a futile connotation of three words with no meaning whatsoever but for thousands of Gooners in Poland it is much more than just a sports team. And, of course, in FA Cup final week it has completely taken root; heralding intense emotions and feelings as we eagerly await seeing Arsenal lift the trophy again.
I just cannot help but smile whenever I think of the experience of last year. As a staunch member of the Arsenal community in my region I was absolutely convinced I knew all the local supporters. But I could not be more wrong.
"I just cannot help but smile whenever I think of the experience of last year"
Frankly, I was both elated and surprised with the overwhelming number of people who turned up to cheer the Gunners that I had never seen before. And, what was really fantastic about that crowd was an unyielding willpower to sing until the very last whistle. Fifteen minutes into the game, one could notice the ominous feeling that our dreams of ending the nine-year trophy drought would come crashing down. But we kept on going - we put our support for the Arsenal above our own mental well-being and refused to stop.
Just before extra-time, the most shocking thing happened. All of a sudden our TV broadcaster announced that the FA Cup final coverage was over and they were going to switch to German Cup final between Borussia and Bayern. Panic prevailed as we could not do anything to avert the acute disappointment of not seeing the concluding part of the game.
Fortunately, totally out of the blue, one of the group emerged with a small laptop. When Aaron Ramsey scored to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat one of my friends jumped in joy and shoved me unintentionally, which sent my glasses flying up into the air. Funny as it may sound, I missed the most important goal of the season and could barely even see the Charlie George-like celebration from Ramsey.
With regard to this year, Arsenal are going into the game as favourites. When one considers the recent form of both sides and the fact that we hammered West Brom last week, confidence and mental strength should be there and I am inclined to say that we can seal the game off quite easily. That said, we can never underestimate Villa! They have some threatening attacking players like Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph who can cause damage while manager Tim Sherwood has managed to engender some optimism in the club.
But the bottom line is that we turn up and play the Arsenal way.
Up The Gunners!
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