Whether you’re going to the game, at home with family or down the pub with friends, the FA cup final is a great day for everyone. This year I was lucky enough to be able to attend the game between Chelsea and Manchester United. I must clarify, I am NOT a supporter of either of these teams but come on, I’m never going to pass up the opportunity to experience an FA cup final in person, especially when the tickets are given to me.
It was an absolutely glorious day in London on Saturday 19th of May for Cup final day. The atmosphere while travelling through London was a special one too, with Union Jacks draped everywhere and bars bustling with people. It was Royal wedding day! I passed the time on the train into London from Essex by flicking through the social media commentary on the wedding and various viral memes that came with it and after 25 minutes I was at Liverpool street, raring to go, to seize the day and sink a few rum and cokes…I mean ciders…I mean beers. Sink a few beers. However, shock, my mate’s late.
After giving him a good scolding when he turned up 45 minutes later because he left his sunglasses at home. We set off to grab some food and a few drinks around the Liverpool Street area. We found a cool little food stall in Spitalfields market and quickly wolfed down my beef brisket wrap (man that thing was good) and started to try and work out where the best place to get a nice cold beer with a nice outside area. Apparently Liverpool Street has nothing like that and after a good 30 minutes wandering like a scene from the walking dead, we had to settle on the Liverpool Street Wetherspoons. Better a beer there than none at all. Cup Final day isn’t about having some fancy place to drink or how drunk you can get. It’s spending time with your mates and enjoying a moment together being excited for the game, placing some silly £1 bets that might make you a millionaire within the next few hours and actually believing you have a chance.
After a little while we decided to move on to Wembley to soak up the atmosphere. I’m lucky enough to have been the 5 or 6 cup finals now and every time I get off the train at Wembley I love it. You can feel the excitement in the air, a sea of people flooding down Wembley way, the smell of greasy but great burgers and chips, young kids in their full kits just in case they get the call up (if you’re over a certain age, I’m sorry but I will look at you and think “full kit w*nker).
Once we got to the ground we headed straight in, grabbed ourselves a beer while we watched the teams be announced on the screens by the bar then headed through to our seats. The pitch bathed in bright sunlight looked amazing. I would later regret said sunlight after I had to sit there cooking in it for about an hour. I actually really enjoyed seeing my friends reaction to the whole day. It was his first ever cup final and it was nice to be able to experience that with him. Seeing some of the best players in the country, if not world play in real life. You do get an extra appreciation for some of them. For me, Hazard, Sanchez and Pogba all really stood out. As soon as Lukaku came on you just saw what a mountain of a man he actually is.
In terms of the football for me United were the better side. Chelsea found it very easy in an uneventful first half (apart from the penalty). However, after half time it was wave after wave of Man United pressure but they just lacked the end product to break Chelsea down. Pogba’s header later in the second chance probably their golden opportunity.
Despite the fact that I have seen my own team play in the FA Cup final and I can say it is a lot less stressful when you’re a neutral and considerably more enjoyable (especially when my team got beat). It is such a great day out with friends and I am making memories that I will hold for the rest of my life. I’ll be able to turn around to my Grand kids in 50 years time and tell them I was at this Cup final, I’ll be able to talk to my mate and reminisce about the Cup final we went to when we were young. I have such fond memories of so many FA Cup finals. Seeing Steven Gerrard ping one in on the half-volley from 30 yards against West Ham in Cardiff or staying at home and playing Dad’s vs Lads games in the back garden. For me, thats what FA Cup final day is all about, making memories.