We lost. In the last minute. We weren’t good enough. We didn’t want to win as much as they did. Simple as that.
Yesterday was pretty rubbish from the very start. When I left my house, there was a moment when I wondered whether to take my sunglasses as it was such a lovely sunny day. When I arrived at Baker Street, it was pissing it down. We tried to find a pub that was open – there were none. We got back on the tube.
When we arrived at Wembley, it was still pissing it down. My shoes made a point of reminding me that they are on their last legs by allowing the water to seep in, soaking my socks. This was not shaping up to be a great day.
For those that have not had the pleasure of the New Wembley, imagine a massive, shit, football stadium and you won’t be far wide of the mark. This place cost us tax payers more than twice the final price of Arsenal’s new stadium, despite being built on land that already had a football stadium on it and therefore didn’t require any businesses relocating and the like. What a waste of money. Luckily, the very people who were fleeced for the thing in the first place are expected to dig deep into their recession-filled pockets for even more readies if they want so much as a pint in this place. A beer is £4.30 and a programme of guff-filled articles freely available on the internet will set you back £7. I didn’t check the food prices but I think it’s fair to assume that there weren’t all that many bargains.
The designers of the stadium have managed to create a concourse which isn’t large enough to hold the expected crowd and with the food outlets positioned at regular intervals around the edge, fans must constantly barge through hundreds of fellow supporters, glumly queuing for over-priced pies.
Then it’s into the stadium proper to find that the seats are made of crappy plastic – the type that gets very, very cold in February. This might seem like a trivial complaint but the seats at The Emirates Stadium are all padded and very comfortable. Half the price of Wembley, remember.
But hey, it’s a Cup Final so none of this stuff matters really, does it? The atmosphere must be amazing right? Wrong.
The only sound that can be heard in the ground until 3 minutes before kick off is the nightclub-loud thump of pop music being pumped out of the PA system. Every now and again the song dies away and, in the seconds before the next one is cued up, the crowd immediately springs into life. For 15 or 20 seconds it feels like a proper cup final. Then we all get drowned out by the PA again. If it’s not music, it’s the stadium announcer trying to get us going by telling us what an amazing thing we’re about to witness. As if anyone needed reminding why they were there.
Time to announce the teams, which everyone already knows in fact, because they were on all of the screens on the concourse beforehand and these days, everyone has an iPhone or similar anyway. We’ve all paid a lot of money though, so we must have “something different” for this bit, right?
Some men roll out enormous sheets of red and white at our end – blue and white at the other – and then people with huge, black Carling balloons take up the positions that the players might start in and the stadium announcer reads out the teams one by one, each balloon-holder unravelling a scroll with that player’s name on it as he does so. It’s like a scene from CBeebies on a Tuesday morning. What a waste of time and money.
Birmingham wanted to win. A lot. They pressed hard in the midfield right from the start and we couldn’t cope. They took the lead but we managed to equalise, Van Persie injuring himself in the process of scoring a cracking goal, and we went in level pegging.
At half time, we were told what the score is. As it turns out, it was 1-1. I have a feeling a few people near me already knew.
The second half continued on in much the same vein, Birmingham closing us down and us struggling to find space. We knew they’d tire eventually and they did. The last 25 minutes was all Arsenal but, with the injured RVP watching from the bench we had no cutting edge. Inevitably, we folded in the last minute and what a shame it had to be Szczesny’s mistake. Home time.
A long and sullen trudge back to the station followed, through huge lakes of water – £900m is evidently not quite enough to buy you a flat surface around the stadium. Is there anything worse than squeezing onto a tube train which is over-crowded with people who all feel as miserable as you do?
Yes there is – a day out at Wembley.