Friday, 15 April 2011

The best semi I ever had

I thought I would talk about the best match I ever attended on FA Cup semi-final weekend as it was an FA Cup semi-final; the very last time one of them went to a reply before the FA scrapped them for the penultimate stage. This game had everything and it was simultaneously the best and worst game to go to as a fan.
Ladies & Gentleman, I am talking about Arsenal 1 -2 Manchester United (aet)
I obtained a ticket because a friend called Paul Beswick knew people who went to the first tie, but couldn't make the midweek replay down in Birmingham. Bes offered me the ticket because I managed to get him a ticket earlier in the season to a match against Derby County, which was only notable as it was Steve McLaren's first game as assistant manager. Bes drove us down to Villa Park and we found somewhere nearish to park and prepared for the most amazing night. It had already been a ridiculous season for results. Two last minute goals against Liverpool in the Third round to turn the game around. An 8 - 1 victory at Nottingham Forest (which I also attended in the home end). And a week later we would have the 3-2 against Juventus and the season would be capped off by the lucky victory against Bayren Munich. But this we THE game of a momentous season.
The emotions were put through the wringer and then some during this match.

Beckham scored! Yay!
Bergkamp equalises. Boooo!
Bergkamp shoots, Schmeichel parries straight to Anelka, who scores. Nooooo!
It's ruled out. He's offside. Bloody hell.
Keane gets sent off. Oh no...
Phil Neville gives away a penalty in stoppage time. Argggggh.
Schmeichel saves Bergkamp's penalty. Christ!
Extra Time and Schmeichel goes down injured after all the subs have been made. Ohhh...
He soldiers on. Phew...
Giggs is doing nothing, despite coming on as sub. Grrrr!
Giggs slaloms through the Arsenal defence and slams it above Seaman into the goal. Oh my god...

At this point I couldn't stop my hands from shaking. Moments earlier I, and the rest of the crowd, were jumping ON our seats in uncontrollable celebration. I've had a handful of other games reduce me to tears at times, but never the shakes.
I've seen other games that have almost come close to the effect that this game had, both last season actually - United's first last minute victory against City in the 4-3 game, and the batshit mentalness that was Fulham 4 - 1 Juventus. Even the away win at Basle felt pretty special. But if I ever go to another game like the one I attended at Villa Park, I will be a very, very lucky boy indeed. I wonder what this weekend's FA Cup semi-finals will have in store for us.

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