Arsenal produced a convincing performance to retain the FA Cup on Saturday afternoon. Reporter Nik Brumsack was at Wembley Stadium and recalls a momentous day in north London.
7.55am - Kick-off may be just under 10 hours away but ahead of a huge day for the editorial team, it’s time to get up. We’ve staggered out who will work when in the build-up to meeting at Wembley later on. I’ve got the early shift, so push some of our content out across all our social media channels.
11am - I live close to Wembley and town is already full of fans. One of the local pubs has been totally ‘Arsenalised’ - there are flags hanging out of the windows and I hear the first - but certainly not last - rendition of ’She Wore a Yellow Ribbon’ of the day. This is my first FA Cup final, it’s a beautiful morning and the excitement is growing…
2.30pm - Unsurprisingly, the area around the stadium is already teeming with fans and Wembley Way is engulfed in yellow and claret and blue as supporters of both clubs ramp up the atmosphere. The press lounge is filling up too, and there's no shortage of famous faces. I’m joined in the lift by former Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio and spot some of the BT Sport team in the queue for lunch.
3.30pm - The two hours before kick-off are a very busy time for the editorial team, and our focus at this point is primarily on updating Arsenal.com and the club’s social media channels with all the pre-match news. I head down to the tunnel to capture a video of the squad arriving at the stadium. It is received well and retweeted hundreds of times within 10 minutes of uploading it.
4.15pm - I stay in the tunnel to find out the team news. For Premier League games, there is a 15-minute embargo on when we can publish but today we can go live immediately. Usually I would tweet the Arsenal line-up but as the internet in the tunnel area isn’t especially quick, I have to phone it through to one of the team in the press box.
4.50pm - There’s just over half an hour to go until kick-off and the nerves are setting in. The two league games against Aston Villa were two of Arsenal’s most complete displays of the season but nonetheless, I feel that this one will be a lot closer. A goal in it perhaps…
5.20pm - There’s a panicky moment in the press box as the internet briefly goes down. During last season’s final, the connection went for the entire first half and there’s a collective intake of breath at the thought of history repeating itself. Thankfully it’s sorted just as the players walk out on to the pitch. We’re positioned right next to the Arsenal fans and the atmosphere is fantastic, let’s hope the performance is too…
6.10pm - THEO! Arsenal have been excellent in the first half but have to wait until five minutes before the break to open the scoring. It’s a really good finish from Walcott, who powers a left-footed shot past Shay Given at his near post. The Arsenal section of the press box roar almost as loudly as the 25,000 Gunners in the Wembley crowd.
6.35pm - PICK THAT ONE OUT! Even by his own high standards, that is special. Alexis takes aim and swerves a rasping shot past Shay Given and in off the underside of the bar. There’s pandemonium in the stands and punches of the air in the press box.
6.47pm - Per Mertesacker rises to nod home the third from a corner. After last year’s drama, this is relatively straightforward. This is the first time I’ve relaxed since the start of the game - surely it’s can’t go wrong from here. Ian Wright is sitting in front of me and is being serenaded by a group of gleeful Arsenal fans.
7.20pm - Arsenal are FA Cup winners for a record 12th time - and they did it in some style! We have all our final whistle content ready to roll out when the whistle blows, but Olivier Giroud scores right at the end of stoppage time, so we quickly have to update the website and our social media channels. In the six minutes after full-time, our Facebook winners graphic is shared more than 15,000 times. Our focus quickly changes from covering the game to scooping up as much post-match reaction as possible. We position ourselves on the pitch, in the press conference room and in the mixed zone to cover as many areas as possible.
8.15pm - A beaming Arsène Wenger enters the press conference room and praises his team for their convincing display. Tim Sherwood has been in already, and admits that Arsenal thoroughly deserved to win the match.
9pm - While the Villa players leave Wembley in relatively quick time, we have to wait a while for Arsenal. Wojciech Szczesny and Theo Walcott stop to record messages of thanks to the supporters and Olivier Giroud, Per Mertesacker and Mesut Ozil are among those to give interviews to the world’s media.
10.30pm - The players have left but our job is far from finished. With a parade scheduled for Sunday morning, we have to get the vast majority of our post-match content out in the public domain as quickly as possible. This requires a lot of writing, transcribing, editing and checking but we make good progress before being turfed out of the press facilities. It’s been an exhausting but amazing day.