As we approach, the final match of the Premier League season with a slim chance of making the final Champions League qualification spot, many Gooners will be looking a week beyond. However disappointed I am at the way our season fell away and however frustrated I may be that the manager and the board, I still find myself grinning at the prospect of Wembley.
The beauty of the game we all love is that no matter how bad one match is the next one always offers redemption for players and fans alike. Come Sunday evening when the dust has settled on the league season and when most other supporters begin worrying about transfers, we still have our next match, the FA Cup Final at Wembley.
Those who have read my articles on how special the competition is will not need reminding but in short; there are very few better days out to experience as a fan. I know what I will be doing all day on Saturday the 27th of May and I cannot bloody wait.
From today until Monday the 29th to celebrate Arsenal’s FA Cup Final appearance with the opportunity for both the club and the manager to make history my current book ‘Supporting Arsenal is a Funny Old Game’ is reduced from £19.99 to £15.00 in hardback here and every book ordered will be signed by Romesh Ranganathan, Paul Kaye or Matt Lucas. To give you just a flavour, here are some FA Cup Final stories featured in the chapters of the comics above, who have kindly signed the specials!
Romesh and the 2001 FA Cup Final
Bloody Michael Owen and bloody southern Scousers….
The climatic nature of football Romesh so beautifully described, works both ways and the climax can be enjoyed by someone else so to speak! In Cardiff in May 2001, it was Liverpool fans ‘losing their shit’ and this was not a good day for Ranganathan, in so many ways.
A friend from Kingston University had managed to secure two tickets for the Cup Final. His mate was a Liverpool fan but the tickets were in the Arsenal end so Ranganathan was hugely excited. The day did not start well with him and his pal rather naively arriving at Paddington without booking train tickets in advance. An obvious school boy or in this case ‘student’ error. They asked a staff member when the next train to Cardiff was and when the reply was ‘which one have you get tickets for?’ the realisation of their stupidity began to sink in. Particularly when the reply to their next question ‘can’t we just buy tickets on the train?’ was met with the withering look it deserved. They were told there was a queue they could join. Feeling slightly better that there were other complete idiots they went to find the queue in the direction the man had pointed. That feeling did not last more than a few seconds when they saw the lines of other idiots was almost the length of the station.
“We were in this queue but it is moving so slowly and I said to my mate ‘I can’t believe this, we have got tickets for the fucking FA Cup Final and we are not going to get there because we are twats!’
With their despair growing, Ranganathan heard a man behind them in the slow moving queue talking on his phone: ‘Do you know darling I don’t think I am going to get on this train. Do you know what I am going to do sweetheart I am going to grab my car and drive.’
Desperate times call for desperate measure and he just turned around to this chap who he did not know from Adam and said “If we pay all your petrol money will you take us with you to Cardiff?”
Luckily for the hapless pair the kindly chap agreed, unluckily as it transpired for Ranganathan, he was another southern Scouser. The banter was relaxed and amusing on the way to Wales and on offering further food and petrol money the friendly guy agreed to bring them back as well.
Well we all know what happened next; Michael Owen committed daylight robbery to steal a game Arsenal had dominated. The nature of the defeat was so devastating for Gooners but provided the Liverpool supporters with their own climatic moment. Ranganathan’s mate asked if he wanted to leave but he magnanimously allowed his friend to stay for the FA Cup presentation, standing silently in the emptying Arsenal end. The friendly generosity soon ended as the two met up with their lift back to London.
“We left and then I had to listen to these 2 arseholes the whole way back to London. There is nothing worse than a gloating Liverpool fan who is not even a scouser. Oh yes there are 2 gloating Liverpool fans who aren’t even scousers!’ They dropped me to London and I got the train back to Crawley called a mate and said can we just go out and get pissed I am so depressed about this result and have had the journey from hell!”
Paul Kaye and Matt Lucas and the 1998 FA Cup Final
Looking for Geordies……
Fast forward to May 1998, with the Premier League secured Kaye and six or seven others, including Matt Lucas and a young Alfie Allen, were at Wembley to see Wenger’s first League and Cup Double secured. Having dropped Alfie off, the grown-ups proceeded to Soho to behave unlike grown-ups. Or in Kaye’s words,
“We got fucking wankered! We were looking for Newcastle fans in Soho and we hadn’t found any at all! So we gave up and went to a club called GG’s, which was an arty sort of place in a basement on Wardour Street, and by this point, we were pretty out of control. We all walked into this basement, pissed up and celebrating but disappointed we’d not found any Geordies and the first two people we see down there are Ant and Dec (huge laughter). They lasted about thirty seconds and ran out. I have never met then before or since. Spent all night looking for Geordies, find none and then all of a sudden find the two most famous ones there’s ever been. It was a joyous and beautiful thing…but not for them.”
Three days later Lucas and Kaye were again together, filming a show in Leeds and again out on the town in the evening very drunk. For some reason, back at their hotel, Kaye recalled having Seaman’s mobile number on his phone and the two friends decided they should call him to congratulate him personally on winning the Double. Having told him how special he was “we just sang Arsenal sings down the phone to him for about an hour. It was fantastic, very funny and he was amazingly good natured about it.”
The book has over 200 pages of humour, anecdote and banter with 15 of Britain’s favourite funny men, all of whom just happen to be die hard Gooners like you and me. Whilst is not a conventional Arsenal book, it is probably the funniest, with so many stories and memories you will all relate to. Check out the FA Cup Final special offer here!
The book is not on retail websites until October and until then is only available via the publisher. Please notify when you order which celebrity and author signed special you want.