1993 and Me
Those finals were glorious. Not because of the football, which, beyond flashes of Wright and Linighan, I cannot claim to remember with any degree of accuracy; and not because of the ephemera surrounding the matches, which, beyond cracks of Morrow and Adams and being allowed too stay up late for the final, I cannot really recollect; but because of the glorious sunshine, because of the celebration of football, because of the live T.V. coverage starting some time around dawn and continuing until there was only one set of ribbons left on the trophy, and because we won. To a boy unhealthily preoccupied with football in general and Arsenal in particular, to a stranger in a strange land whose closest links to the comforts of home were the club he supported, that seemed like the most important thing in the world. Here was Arsenal, some glorious Deus Ex Machina to show me that everything would be ok.
Fast forward 21 years and there are similarities: the aesthetic cues of the flashes of blue and red on the sleeves of the kit (I just knew this one would be lucky); beating Tottenham en route to the final; a defender getting a key goal; an inability to resolve the matter within 90 minutes; not the first trophy of my lifetime, but the first trophy in what feels like a lifetime.
Except things are totally different now. I'm not a child anymore – although my childlike compulsion to football remains an indelible part of my composition – and I can go to watch Arsenal whenever I please (insofar as time, money and other commitments allow). And now, well, now I'm the parent. My first child was born just over a year ago, into an Arsenal household in Bristol through a quirk of footballing genealogy.
We sat and watched the final together. Or, I should say, we sat together for some of the final, her in her Arsenal replica kit, me in mine, and her mother in hers. And then she unleashed hell into her nappy to save me the effort of unleashing hell into my own underwear as Hull took a horrifying, dumbfounding, terrifying 2-0 lead. And then she played with a ball and some toys as Arsenal clawed their way back into the game. And then we desperately clung to one another through extra time (I may have been doing most of the clinging) as Aaron Ramsey cemented himself in the pantheon of cup final heroes and she cried and I cried and it was the zenith of existence.
I hope she gets to see Arsenal win as much as I have, and I hope to be there with her every time that happens. And should she choose to have children of her own, we will repeat the process ad infinitum, through the European Super League, on to the Intergalactic Mega League, toward the Inter-Dimensional Hyper League and whatever lies beyond. Where there is Arsenal, we shall go.
The 1993 FA Cup led us to victory in the 1994 European Cup Winners' Cup, which remains the only European trophy I have ever seen Arsenal win, despite the club having reached 3 further European finals since that year. Here's to hoping the 2014 FA Cup has similar progeny that I can enjoy with mine.
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