With six winners’ medals in her collection, Women’s FA Cup Final week will always stir the emotions for Arsenal great Marieanne Spacey.
Spacey’s former club are preparing to take on holders Chelsea in the Wembley showpiece on Saturday 14 May.
No side has won the competition more times than the Gunners (13), and Spacey was in the team for four of those successes.
Arsenal v Chelsea
SSE Women's FA Cup Final
2pm, Saturday 14 May 2016
Wembley Stadium connected by EE
Tickets priced £15 adults, kids go free
And with this season’s final on the horizon, the England Women’s assistant manager was happy to relive some of her fondest FA Cup memories.
She said: “When I was playing, The FA Cup Final was the one game everybody talked about and everybody wanted to be a part of.
“It attracted the most media coverage and it was always shown live on TV, which was rare in those days for women’s football.
“We knew that this coverage would help raise the profile of the women’s game and we felt in a privileged position to be able to do that.”
Spacey continued: “You win the semi-final and then you go back to your league campaign for a few weeks. But the week of the final is when everything starts to kick in.
“There was always a bit more of a buzz around the club and people would come up to you and tell you they’ve got their tickets and there was always more interviews to do.
“Arsenal and Chelsea players will know that it’s FA Cup Final week. For me, this week is about looking forward to playing in the final and getting excited about it, but channelling that into a performance.”
Spacey, who, alongside England boss Mark Sampson conducted the draw for this season’s semi-finals, won the Cup for the first time in 1985 with Friends of Fulham, before losing the ’89 and ’90 finals with the same side.
She joined Arsenal and lifted the trophy in 1995, when she scored the winner against Liverpool, and then again in 1998, 1999 and 2001.
Remarkably, her sixth winners’ medal arrived 18 years after her first when Fulham defeated Charlton in 2003. Spacey was 36 years old and had to fight back from a cruciate ligament injury.
But with so many high points to pick from, Spacey struggled to choose a standout moment from one of the most distinguished careers in the famous competition.
She said: “1995 springs to mind because I had an absolute stinker for the whole game and then popped up to score the winner with nine minutes left.
“Seeing Kelley Few knock in the winner against Croydon in 1998 was really special too, because she was a real unsung hero. The year after, Clare Wheatley had come back from a cruciate injury to be fit for the final and she actually scored on the day. That was an amazing moment.
“In 2001 we were up against Fulham who were the only professional team at the time and no-one gave us a chance, so when we won 1-0 it was nice to silence the doubters who said Arsenal were washed up.”
And with so much cup final experience, there aren’t too many players more qualified to offer advice to this week’s finalists.
Spacey added: “It’s an old cliche but you have to play the game and not the occasion. You have to concentrate on your job on the pitch.
“Playing in a cup final is an amazing achievement, but performing in a cup final is even better. If you perform well that will make your memories even better.
“Every player wants to have an FA Cup winners’ medal and I do believe The FA Cup holds a special place for every English football fan.”
Thanks to The FA's partnership with SSE, all children will be able to attend this year's final for free.
Adult tickets are priced £15 and group bookings and charter standard discounts are also available.
Tickets for the final are on sale now via TheFA.com/Tickets or by calling 0844 826 2010.