17.05.2014 - 17.05.2014
Arsenal 3 – 2 Hull (aet)
Arsenal 3 – 2 Hull (aet)
Ok, so there were a few teething problems to start with (and I’m not even talking about the fact Arsenal were two down within eight minutes). Finding a place to watch the FA Cup Final in a strange new country and city can be challenging, fortunately we were staying with Steve, a friend of Sara’s, and his local knowledge of Hanoi was priceless.
I had already spoken to Arsenal’s official Vietnamese Supporters group on Twitter but they were meeting quite a distance from where we were staying (not ideal for a match that would end at two in the morning) so Steve kindly phoned round a few bars to see where was showing it. The initial response was a bit worrying, the most promising places only said they hoped to show it but they weren’t sure due to licencing problems.
We decided to rely on two bars in the end, one close to Steve’s home and one further into town which eventually said they would show the match. Ensuring we had enough time to check out both places if need be we headed to the closest bar first. Good news - it had the match on and the build-up was well under way. Bad news - there was hardly anyone there. There was still half an hour before kick-off so we thought it best to try the bar in town, which according to Steve would definitely be busier. We jumped in a taxi and headed into town with the taxi driver sensing our urgency as he flashed other vehicles to get out of the way.
The second bar certainly had more atmosphere, unfortunately that was because the local rugby club were there getting boozed up and watching their own stupid sport. The manager (a fat Australian who seemed drunker than the rugby boys and had all the charm and customer service skills of a charging rhinoceros) told the Brits to stop moaning and reassured us the game would be shown. Indeed shortly after a selection of the television screens changed to ITV’s coverage (beggars can’t be choosers). Kick off time came (11pm here) and Adrian Chiles was still talking to Andy Townsend in an empty Wembley stadium. This seems a little odd, I thought, perhaps they recorded this earlier. I started to get agitated and spoke to some of the other confused Englishmen who then checked their phones to learn the match kicked off three minutes ago.
It turns out the footage in this bar was on a thirty minute delay! We hopped back into another taxi and sped back to the first bar. No atmosphere was better than having that horrible feeling that you’re half an hour behind the rest of the world when such an important event was unfolding.
We arrived at the first bar again and good news - it had filled up. Bad news though - Arsenal were two goals down. Disaster, surely we can’t chuck our chance of glory away again. We grabbed a couple of stools and after watching for a couple of minutes I didn’t feel too worried, Arsenal looked like they were playing with purpose, and I had my lucky pants on!
Then, bam, a wonderfully hit free kick from Santi Cazorla and it’s back on. I felt a 4-2 victory was on the cards.
Ok, it took a while longer than I hoped to get the win, I thought we’d get it wrapped up in normal time (I should never be that confident with Arsenal) but eventually the equaliser from Koscielny came and we headed into extra time. I dreaded the nerve-wracking torture of penalties but didn’t have to worry as the ball fell at the feet of our player of the season and Welsh wizard, Aaron Ramsey. A perfectly aimed shot guided into the near corner of the goal caused the bar to erupt and the relief flow out.
The power of the lucky pants worked again! (You can all thank me later – after all, we only went two down because I wasn't watching).
As I watched us lift our first trophy in 9 years, overwhelming joy coursed through my body and placed a smile on my face that didn’t fade until I fell asleep. And now no one can take this away - Arsenal FC – FA Cup winners 2014