The last time I tasted FA Cup glory as a supporter was in 1980. My nuts hadn’t even dropped, now it seems like everything else has.
I got married on Saturday 20th May 1995. Everything was booked the year before. Church, reception, flowers cars and all that, then it dawned on me FA Cup final day. I’d half joked to my fiancé Rachel that it might be tricky with the cup. Our fears didn’t come to fruition (now there’s a surprise) and the wedding was a success and we’re still together after all these years.
Martin a fellow hammer is getting married on Cup Final Day and can now concentrate on his nuptials with Joanna seeing that we limped, literally out of the cup to the mighty Wigan. So it’ll be another year before I get the opportunity to pose with the cup like I did in 1980, I wonder if you can even still do that?
An old work colleague got married in the morning then went off to watch QPR with some of the congregation. After the game they dashed back to the reception. He showed me a picture of them suited and booted with button holes amongst the crowd.
Not sure I would of got away with that one though. I’ve lost count of the amount of family gatherings I’ve missed out on due to my support of West Ham. Sometimes life gets in the way of football.
There’s the old story at a Merseyside derby, It’s packed to capacity and a guy sees an empty seat. He edges closer and asks the chap in the next seat if he can sit there. He’s informed that it’s empty as a mark of respect for his wife who recently died. “I’m sure your wife wouldn’t mind and surely a relative or friend could’ve used the seat”. “It’s okay lar” came the reply “There’ll be at the funeral”.
I was offered a grand for my ticket for the last ever game at Upton Park. Naturally I turned it down. “What about five grand?” Once again I said “No”. What would I have taken, I don’t know. Sometimes it’s not the money, it’s the being there. I couldn’t have replicated that night, the sound the atmosphere and ultimately the game and the memory.
My one and only Cup Final was in Cardiff against Liverpool. At the time I was working for a Egyptian gentleman who so happened to own a football club as well as a nice corner shop in Knightsbridge. I was a family driver mainly working for his wife. I’d asked for the Saturday off to watch the game on TV. Speaking to one of the bosses sons he’d heard I was going to the match. I corrected him and said “I wish, I just wanted to see the game on the box”. He went off and a few minutes later handed me an envelope, inside were three tickets! They were from the FA allocation to the club. Touch.
The only downside was Liverpool End on the tickets. I needn’t of worried as on arrival we were with the friends and family of the Scousers next to The Royal Box. One of my mates was next to Bolo Zenden and I had Harry Kewell’s missus behind me.
I was fortunate to attend many a game sitting in the posh seats down by the Thames and twice at Upton Park in the very very posh seats when driving the boys. They used to do a lovely spread at halftime at The Boleyn. When working for supporters of the other team I found standing up and cheering for West Ham when sat in The Chairman’s Box is not necessarily a good career move. How do you just sit there when you’re desperate to jump up and down and give a “Who are Ya?” to The Away End?
So when the whistle is blown and the organist starts playing on the big day in my heart of hearts I know where I’d long to be. All things bright and beautiful or Bubbles?
So on Saturday 19th May I’ll be drinking bubbles instead of singing ‘em! To Martin and Joanna……….