The day of the cup final is always special, even if today felt different. I got up slightly later than normal and had some toast and tea for breakfast. Cruising the music television channels, I find myself tuning into VH1. They were doing a run down of the 500 Greatest British Songs this weekend. The opening to the song at 315, means everything to me. It perhaps was not as fitting how as it was nearly five years ago but the meaning was all the same. What sort of person are you? Do you walk away from your problems, avoiding them for as long as possible or do you take them, head on? Well, just like Craig David, there are times when I feel like just ‘Walking Away’. Perhaps not today but there are times when I have taken some courage that I am not the only one. Ironically, 315 was the number of the night bus I used to catch from Wycombe town centre to Cressex every weekday. Thankfully, that part of my life is over, forever.
Back to the most important aspect of the day, the big match. It had been built up for weeks and now that it was finally here, I felt somewhat disappointed. Sure, avoiding the newspapers and keeping what I read on the web to a bear minimum. Nevertheless, there was a feeling of unfinished business, as I sat down at 1pm to watch the show, live on BBC1. I had seen Arsenal crumble to Manchester United, twice already this season in the league, and even in the worthless cup, but the fact we played a C side that does not count. Revenge is such a strong word. Taking what was rightfully ours, is how I would prefer to label the tact. We have a long traditional in this cup competition and I felt, even without Henry, we had what it would take to win this game, perhaps only with a single goal, an act of genius. As it transpired, our most crucial player was our goalkeeper, able to settle some ghosts. My personal analysis? We did not perform in the first half and looked like a team, willing only to attack on the counter. We were much too patient, waiting for things to happen. Man U, were able to capitalize on this by piling on the pressure, consistently but never able to create a real opening. Not sure what was said at half time, but it woke us from our slumber and we started putting passes together and show some attacking might. This was in between dogmatic pressure, which thanks to our keeper, we were able to hold on for extra time. Overall, the better team, deserved to win in open play, but just were not clinical in their finishing. We were lucky. The limit of this was when dear Freddie cleared a goal bound shot by Ruud on the line. That was the closest clear cut chance and you could see, over time that today would not be for Alex. With the prospect of penalties I had a sinking feeling. Reyes had been sent off and some of our more experienced attackers had been substituted. I took some comfort from our performance against Sheffield United, which also went to spot kicks but a result in our favour. Throughout the past week at work, I was confident that Arsenal would come up with the goods and the match had seen Lenhman hit another level. Could he pull it off? As it transpired, he could but I was on the edge of my seat all the way through. Sometimes, the good guys win, no matter what obstacle the bad guys put in the way. Expect a full review from a drunkard Spanish resident, tomorrow morning. Thankfully, we have one more season to watch the Dutch Master grace our screens.
If the weather tells a story of the day, then it is so. The day began with slight drizzles and then by midday it was raining heavily, with major downpour around 1pm. This affected the broadcast of digital satellite, which was annoying to say the least. Then, during the match, the weather cleared somewhat. With extra time looming the sun finally shown over in Cardiff, while here in Wycombe it was still quite overcast. Then, within moments of Arsenal clinching that final penalty and the trophy, the sun came out to shine brightly for me and not just on TV, I came into my room to pick up my mobile, I had a text message and my weekend was about to be turned upside down, but for a change, for the better. So just like the weather, my emotion has quickly shifted, like a roller coaster from despondent emptiness, to meaningful delight. Have faith in the promise of what tomorrow may bring.