Three Finals, one on Saturday and two on Sunday, took me up to 165 matches for the season and 6,460 in total. The attendances ranged from 86,254 to 35.
The results – you’ll probably know the first one already – were Wigan Athletic 1-0 Manchester City in The FA Cup Final at Wembley, Barnes Eagles 3-1 Putney Athletic in the Chiswick Sunday League Riverside Challenge Trophy Final at Feltham and Razors 3-2 St Marks (aet) in the West End Sunday League Sportsmanship Shield Final at Hanwell.
It was my 25th FA Cup match of the season and I kept up my record of seeing at least one in every round. I’ve now seen 429 altogether, starting with a First Round tie at Crystal Palace more than half a century ago, and those include 41 Final matches.
I thought Saturday’s contest was fascinating and it reminded me a bit of Wimbledon v Liverpool in 1988. I’d told several people on Friday that Wigan could win it if they played above their normal level and City played below theirs. But in the end it was as close as it could be, with Ben Watson’s goal coming six seconds into stoppage time.
As they prepared to take that corner, my guest said “This would be a good time to score” and he was spot on. I could see a Wigan player, apparently on his own, leaping for the ball at the near post and thought: “This is going to be a goal”.
It was a great end to the match and I was so pleased for Dave Whelan, whose Final as a player had been a less than happy one.
I had two Finals on Sunday with a lower profile, neither of which – as far as I know – attracted a global television audience of half a billion. The Riverside Challenge Trophy Final had a 10.30 kick-off at The Orchard, now Feltham FC’s HQ and right next to the airport. I remember walking round the pitch before an evening match there a few years ago and heard Concorde take off. I thought it was the end of the world.
A partisan crowd of 65 assembled yesterday morning and Barnes Eagles hit the post twice and then took the lead. They beat ‘Cheese and Chutney’ 3-1 and it’s always good to see a Barnes team doing well. The original laws of football were drafted by Ebenezer Morley at his home in Barnes and the first match under them featured Barnes and Richmond at nearby Limes Field.
Then it was a Piccadilly line train to Acton Town, another one to Park Royal, a walk to Hanger Lane and a Central line train to Perivale. I was at Hanwell Town’s Reynolds Field ground about ten minutes before the 2pm start of the Sportsmanship Shield Final. Two unusual things about the match were the St Marks No.7 wearing glasses and a sequence of three consecutive foul throws early in the second half, i.e. one after the other at the same spot on the touchline.
I have my fourth Final in three days tonight, as Chelsea meet Norwich City in the second leg of The FA Youth Cup Final at Stamford Bridge. There should be some decent nosh beforehand too.