FA Cup Final 2017: Actor and Arsenal fan Rob C Crouch – my baby daughter will wear yellow ribbon in Merry Month of May

Rob C Crouch

Rob C Crouch - Credit: Archant

Read Arsenal fan and actor Rob Crouch’s FA Cup Final memories

The first FA Cup Final I remember was 1980. I grew up in the suburban borders of East London and Essex, in Buckhurst Hill.

My dad had played rugby as a younger man and we were definitely not a football family. My mum grew up in the East End and all her relatives were West Ham fans, except her dad who supported Arsenal.

I knew there was this thing called the ‘Cup Final’ What I remember about that day was and my grandpa coming round after watching the game and being in a foul mood. My mum always said that he probably only supported Arsenal to be difficult and to annoy her mother’s relatives.

He had been a foreman in a rubber factory and had played for the works team. He was quite good by all accounts but we never talked about it.

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My parents had lived just off Essex Road when my older brother was born and moved to Essex when I was a baby.

I think something drew me back to Islington because of this.

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And to Arsenal.

I first went to Highbury in the nineties with Dan, a friend from university who had a season ticket along with his dad and his brother.

We joked that he was Yoda to my Luke Skywalker in the ways of Arsenal.

I remember walking over the road to the Alwyn Castle to watch the 2001 final when I lived on Harecourt Road, almost opposite the pub.

It was important I watched the game there. I had never seen a team playing in red lose on the TVs in that pub – I’d watched victories for the British Lions, the Labour Party and the England football team in their change strip Dan and I had agreed that’s where I had to be.

It was a proper sticky-carpet football pub in those days and it was rammed for the FA Cup Final that year. I couldn’t get in.

So, apologies, Michael Owen’s two late goals when we lost to Liverpool 2-1 were my fault.

I watched the game that day in the Compton Arms and mostly remember the immaculately observed minute’s silence for David Rocastle.

In 2003 against Southampton I had a ticket.

Cup finals in Cardiff were really special and I was there again in 2005 when we beat Manchester United on penalties after a 0-0 draw after extra time.

The way each team colonised half the town made for an incredible atmosphere.

My first experiences of Wembley watching Arsenal were much less satisfying. But my favourite FA Cup Final was in 2014.

Aaron Ramsey’s winning goal in extra time was such a release of tension.

I watched Arsenal through those trophyless years, especially the Wenger youth project that began in the League Cup and I have had a season ticket of my own since the move to the Emirates.

But winning the FA Cup at Wembley and in that fashion was almost the perfect football experience.

I’m not going this Saturday though, I have given my ticket to Dan’s son.

I have a baby daughter and have been away with work quite a bit so we’ll spend the day together.

I might even put a yellow ribbon in.

Gooner Rob has received huge acclaim for his West End performances as the legendary Oliver Reed.

Follow him on Twitter @robccrouch.

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