Arsenal FC won the 2014 FA Cup Final in the wee hours of this morning (Singapore time). Here is a recount of my own FA Cup Final experience.
Midnight was approaching. There were just a few more minutes to go. The FA Cup Final was about to be screened.
At Molly Roffey’s Irish Pub (the official Arsenal Singapore fan club) last night, we Gooners were creating a big din – all singing and screaming at the top of our voices.
We were up against fellow English Premier League club Hull City, in a Cup Final after all. So this was definitely a reason to celebrate. We were only 90 minutes away from glory – or so we had thought at the time.
Arsenal was on the verge of finally breaking their nine-year trophy drought…
The game started. It was the worst possible start that we could ever have had in a cup final. Hull City had quickly raced to a two-goal lead within the first ten minutes – due to some very poor defending on our part.
I was devastated. My heart was shattered. All around me, fans were completely silenced. How could it all be going completely wrong? Was this going to be another one of those horrific days – where we would self-destruct? I still remember the previous time when we had come so close to silverware – in the 2011 Carling Cup Final against Birmingham City.
This time, we were stronger and wiser than we had been back in 2011… but you never know what happens in football games.
The Comeback Begins
Our first ray of hope in clawing our way back into this game came in the 17th minute, thanks to a magnificent and well-taken Santi Carzorla free kick.
From then on, my eyes were completely glued to the TV screen and my heart was pounding. I kept my fingers crossed. Just one more goal, and then we would be able to level the score line…
Great Hull defending and a flurry of missed chances
Chance after chance came and went for us. The ball seemed to be heading everywhere else except where it was supposed to – inside Hull City’s goal-mouth.
This, together with some excellent opposition defending, seemed to be stopping us from being able to score the equaliser that we were so badly craving for.
But as the game wore on, Hull City began to tire. We could smell blood. We were a group of hungry predators on the prowl…
Our second goal finally arrived – through Laurent Koscielny in the 71st minute. As soon as this hit the back of Hull City’s net, everyone erupted in loud shrieks. A din of eager and excited screams and shouts of joy completely filled the room.
My heart lifted immediately. Joy and delight was pulsing through my veins. I was in a frenzied state of excitement and enthusiasm then.
And at the same time, I could smell the third goal. It was all a matter of time. By now, Arsenal was creating many more chances than their opponents and the ball was actually spending most of the time in Hull’s half of the pitch.
Plenty of chances but no goals
The full-time whistle came and went. There were plenty of chances, but the goals had all but dried up. The game was headed for extra time. There would be another 30 minutes of football for us.
By now, it was past two o’clock in the wee hours of the morning. But strangely, I wasn’t feeling sleepy at all. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins.
The first half of extra time came and went. There were plenty of chances on our part, but still no goals.
I was perspiring profusely. My heart was pumping rapidly. I was so nervous that I couldn’t even breathe properly. If this continued, then the game was headed towards the heart-attack inducing lottery – the penalty shootout.
The magic of Ramsey
But the penalties never took place. For at long last, after almost a massive 120 minutes of high-tempo football, magic happened in the form of Aaron Ramsey.
We were now 3-2 up. And there were only eleven more minutes of extra time to go. Arsenal had taken the lead – for the first time in the 2014 FA Cup Final.
And at that very point, all the panic attack suddenly went away. I was feeling deliriously happy now. And the entire Molly Roffey’s Irish Pub completely exploded. We were creating such a huge ruckus. It was completely and totally crazy.
But we didn’t care. Words couldn’t describe the feelings that were pulsing through my veins, then. No amount of screaming could have unleashed the happiness and excitement inside me right there and then.
We were finally on our way to victory. All we had to do now was to hang on for another eleven minutes of extra time.
A Nervous Ending
It was a very nervous ending to the FA Cup Final for all of us. My heart was pounding against my ribcage in sheer anxiety.
Amidst the joyous screams and shouts, we were all on tenterhooks whenever Hull City got possession of the ball.
And we got a mighty scare as well, when they had come mighty close to bringing the tie to penalties in the last couple of minutes.
But fortunately for us, they had fluffed their chances.
We are the Champions
And then we finally heard the sound that we had been all so desperate to hear… the final whistle, to signify the end of extra-time.
We’d done it. The final score read 3-2 to the Gunners. But I must say that the past 120 minutes of football had been a mighty close shave, with plenty of moments that were more than enough to give the most ardent Arsenal fan a mighty heart attack.
Words couldn’t describe how I’d felt then. I could finally catch my breath.
We are the champions.
And we’d kept on fighting… till the end.