London Glows Red

Beating three of the top six teams in the Premier League on the road to Wembley did not give us a divine right to win the FA Cup. The first 15 minutes or so on Saturday proved that more than anything else.

We shouldn't have been two goals behind - but we were. The fact remains however, that after a disastrous start we embarked on a remarkable comeback and the record books show, "Arsenal Football Club, FA Cup Winners 2014".

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Like every Gooner worldwide I am still grinning from ear to ear!

When I set off for London on Friday I didn't really expect to be getting home again as the clock approached midnight on Sunday. But I offer no excuses or apologies, weekends like this one genuinely do not come around very often in our lifetime and boy did we celebrate!

We use the phrase 'emotional rollercoaster' quite a lot as football fans but on this occasion I can think of no better description. At times we all wanted to 'get off' but by Sunday it was a ride we wanted to go on forever.

Heading out of Wembley Park tube station and down those steps was a spine-tingling moment. Wembley Way, FA Cup final day, with friends and fellow Gooners and all the colour and noise that goes with it. It made the hairs stand up on end and brought a tear to the eye.

Frank and friends on Wembley Way

Frank and friends on Wembley Way

Even though I am a man in my forties I don't mind admitting walking into my seat, the players coming out and 'Abide With Me' had me struggling to keep it together. Emotions only those who 'know' can understand.

All the pre-match discussions, all the opinions, all the hype could finally come to a close. It was now all about putting in that performance on the pitch.
Come on boys, don't let us down.

Recalling how I felt after we went two down is difficult. Not angry, not even disappointed, just totally numb I think.

With the goals happening so early my thoughts quickly turned to hope, defiance and optimism. Just one before half time would add confidence to the whole package.

When it came it wasn't just crucial but an absolutely stunning strike from Santi. Every Gooner worldwide knew we were well and truly back in it. Half time seemed to arrive in double quick time and if anything it was a period where nerves were even worse than before a ball was kicked.

Watching the second half on TV since Saturday I felt although we poured forward we were very disciplined, something that was difficult to see with all the emotion in the stadium at the time. It was keeping to our game plan that eventually paid off, Laurent poking home our equaliser bringing on total and utter pandemonium.

We had come back from the brink, now it was time to go on and win it.

Again, chances came and went, Olly smacking the bar and seeing a fine volley well saved two of the opportunities that spring to mind.

Then it came. Yaya held up Jack's pass, Olly's backheel was sublime, Rambo's finish full of class, accuracy and precision.

Cue absolute carnage!

Clothes ruined, rosettes battered, programmes mangled.....a massive writhing bundle of people in red and white sharing the unbridled joy. We finally had our noses in front, the cup was ours if we could see it home.

Of course it wouldn't be Arsenal without one late scare, Per's slip and Fab's rush of blood seeing a shot trickle across our six yard box but moments after we almost added a 4th the whistle blew and we had done it. Simply fantastic.

Emotional beyond belief, the celebrations that followed will live long in the memory. The realisation we had done it, the lifting of the trophy, the boss receiving 'the bumps', the players dancing and singing in front of us and leaving that stadium with a smile and red glow only our team can give us. And of course, that monkey off our back. Incredible.

One of our best known Gooners, Keith, arranged his 60th birthday party in one of the suites at the Emirates many months back. Although he hoped, even he could not have dreamed we would all be celebrating that milestone immediately after we had won the FA Cup! Happy Birthday mate, a great night to end an incredible day and not a bad little present for you!

We did.....eventually.

"We won the cup, we won the cup, ee aye adio, we won the cup!"


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