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All Guns Blazing: Rain or shine, Arsenal FA Cup finals are never dull

14:32 14 May 2014

Arsenal goalscorers Ray Parlour and Fredrik Ljungberg celebrate with the FA Cup in 2002

Arsenal goalscorers Ray Parlour and Fredrik Ljungberg celebrate with the FA Cup in 2002

EMPICS Sport

Gooner and football journalist Layth Yousif looks back at the highs and lows of Arsenal’s FA Cup final history in our weekly fan column

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Arsenal in the FA Cup Final brings memories flooding back. Five trips to Wembley in the space of four months in 1993, including the FA Cup final and replay against Sheffield Wednesday. As a Londoner attending Newcastle University, myself and a pal known as The Wiseman had little sympathy for bleating Wednesday fans who complained of having to make four Wembley trips in a month.

Certainly not having to add an extra 200 miles onto our round-trip – and the dubious pleasures of the overnight coach. So it was no wonder we met Andy Linighan’s last-gasp winner with untrammelled ecstasy – it was a price worth paying. As was the purchase of the 1998 Cup Final record Hot Stuff.

It was certainly hot the day we beat an insipid Newcastle side bereft of ideas and imagination – or maybe it was more to do with Adams and Bould, Vieira and Petit, Overmars and Parlour et al performing majestically as we clinched the double? May 16, 1998 at a sun-baked Wembley is still one of my favourite-ever matches supporting the Arsenal.

2001 in south Wales saw another heatwave, even if the weekend was spoiled by two late Michael Owen goals I never forgave him for. Also never forgiven was Tim Lovejoy for those derisory words against our Ray, words which will haunt Lovejoy forever as we claimed victory in 2002.

Fast forward to 2005 and it was Manchester United fans not forgiving us for winning the Cup on penalties after a leaden display. We didn’t care – especially when we had the trophy in our hands.

Come Saturday I shall be at Wembley again with my ticket gleaned from 25 away credits – even if many equally long-standing fans and season-ticket holders failed to get one due to the ridiculously low allocation. I’ve always said the Community Shield should be the game to reward the so-called ‘football family’ – not the biggest domestic cup final where tickets (and touts) are at a premium.

But whether you’re going to Wembley or heading for the big screens at The Grove after a trip to Piebury Corner – having picked up a copy of The Gooner (and my exclusive interview with Sol Campbell) – I guarantee Arsenal fans everywhere will be singing that immortal song which begins: “What did she wear…”

I know I will.

PS: As a very superstitious type, in response to a reader’s question: I’ve also penned this column before the Spurs, Everton and Wigan Cup games…

Follow me @laythy29

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