Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Everton 1 - 2 Chelsea

I can't believe the new fixtures are out already. I've not even done the end of season awards or this report yet! I need a few matches to be played on Sundays so I hope there's some progress in Europe.

When offered Prawn Sandwich tickets to the FA Cup Final, I really wasn't going to refuse. The event has always, in a cliched way, felt a little bit special for me especially considering that my first love, Man United, have been involved in about 8 FA Cup finals since I've followed them.
Still Everton v Chelsea is not a game to get too worked up over as a neutral, but I was obviously supporting the Toffees.
I left the flat in Hammersmith at 11 after watching a bit of old school Saint & Greavsie on TV and was shocked at the number of Everton fans milling around my patch of West London at that time. A quick hop on the tube and I arrived at Wembley Park to be greeted by hundreds of people in blue shirts - the Everton and Chelsea hues are remarkably similar to someone as colour blind as me - with most of them Toffees determined to enjoy a first cup final for 14 years.
Club Wembley seating is a bit like being at the rugby I'd imagine, with fans of both sides intermingling as cash is more important here than football allegiances. In our section (which as it turned out was just below Mr Abramovich's box) had a mix of Everton & Chelsea fans without a hint of trouble.
The place where we ate is actually a small trek away from where we were seated, so we were lucky to get out there for 'Abide with me' which I'm shamed to say I didn't realise was particularly linked to the FA Cup Final. It explains why the lyrics were in the programme though. Then we sit down and Louis Saha scores. The was particularly pleasing to the trading director of a bookies I was sat next to as it immediately wiped out the £50,000 liability his firm had on a 2-0 Chelsea victory. Plus we'd all witnessed the fastest ever FA Cup final goal, timed at 25 seconds. The way I've been missing quick fire/last minute goals recently I was pleased to have caught this one.
The game was then a tidy if not exciting one. A minute before Drogba's headed equaliser, Chelsea had put in a similar cross into the Everton box, but had no striker to take advantage. It seems that Chelsea heeded this lesson, but Everton did not and as such the strike would not have felt amiss in a practice match.
Half time had us scampering back to our tables for a drink and the best bit of food of the day - miniature pies! The lager (Carslberg) left something to be desired because I don't think enough pints of it are poured in what is essentially a wine-drinking environment. It'd have been nice to have the option of some bottled beer/cider though. Anyway, no sooner had we sat down than there was an announcement that the second half was going to start soon. No so wonder many Club Wembley seats are still empty at the start of the second half at that stadium.
Lampard's winner came just after Everton had enjoyed their best football of the match with a bit of sustained pressure, but with only a header over the bar to show for their endeavours. I find it hard to dislike Lampard these days, apart from the continuous pointing to the sky when he scores, but I guess that's being a bit harsh. Malouda's cracking strike also echoed the '66 World Cup final when Geoff Hurst's shot came back down off the bar. While it seemed obvious to me that Malouda's had bounced over the line and come back out, the referee didn't give it. Where's a Russian linesman when you need one?

All in all I've had a good footballing year. I've attended both domestic cup finals and the charity shield, seen Barcelona and Inter Milan play at home, held the Premier league and Champions League trophies, and best of all been witness to Fulham's best EVER season in the top flight. Now that's what I call a good season.

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