FA Cup Final 2010/11: Sweet dreams are made of this….
And so the 2010/11 season comes ever closer to finishing, with the FA Cup Final this weekend. A reassuring date in May that sits there in the football calendar and marks the passing of time. An event that has always for me had the, “…I remember where I was…” tag-line. Something that grows up with you, a constant that is there as you go through life.
In the year I was born 1962, the FA Cup Final was between Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley. In a game that has become known as “The Chessboard Final” due to the tactical and cat and mouse nature of the play, Spurs emerged winners 3-1 with goals from Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Smith and a Danny Blanchflower penalty. The Clarets had equalized with a goal from Jimmy Robson on 50 minutes, but the North London team went ahead 2-1 within a minute and sealed Cup Glory with just ten minutes remaining.
However, it wasn’t until 1970 that I have any recollections of watching my first FA Cup Final and then it was the replay at Old Trafford and not the first game at Wembley. The picture of being sat at home with my dad watching that game on 29 April 1970 is still a vivid one in my mind. We didn’t have a colour television, so it was black and white images that we watched that night. I remember my mum coming into the room just as Leeds scored through Mick Jones on 35 minutes and in typical football superstitious style, she was banned from coming into the room until the game was over. These days that Replay is viewed as something of a brutal encounter, but 1970’s football was a very different and physical beast to that of the game today and so watching that night it didn’t seem as though this was a “dirty” game. Chelsea got back into the game in the second half but left it late with a Peter Osgood header just 12 minutes from time. Extra-time followed and for some reason we didn’t put the lights on, so black and white shafts of light flicked across our faces as in the last minute of the first period of extra time, a long throw from Hutchinson caused confusion in the Leeds defence and Dave Webb headed home what turned out to be the winner.
Subsequent years and FA Cup Final days are linked in with my dad’s and my passion for cricket. This meant that for a number of years, any glimpses of the Final “live” were restricted to the tea interview in between innings. Even though I loved playing cricket, when Cup Final day came around I invariably prayed for rain! If the gods of precipitation had done their work I could sit myself down and take in the full glory of the BBC’s coverage (I was and am a BBC man!) that included down the years special editions of Mastermind, Question of Sport and It’s a Knockout all featuring fans of the Cup Final teams. It was a real marathon which featured players at their team hotel, their journey to the ground and more analysis than you could care to take on. It was a feeling of real excitement once the game started. It was only once the game was over and the Cup was presented (barring replays in those days), that you could rise from the sofa, head muzzy from 8 hours in front of the television and stomach full from snacking during this period to get back to the rest of Saturday.
With the knees having called time on my cricket career, this weekend as the City’s from Manchester and Stoke battle for the Cup, I’ll be once more adorning a sofa to take in the action. More likely though I’ll settle down to watch 30 minutes or so before kick-off, but it’ll give me the chance to reflect and savour the memories of Cup Finals past and toast the winners and losers.