No.4: FA Cup Final Replay – 20th May 1993 (Final seconds of extra time –
Arsenal 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday)
With no further goals in extra time and just the final few seconds of injury time left to play it seemed I was about to witness the first FA Cup Final to be settled by the arbitrariness of penalties – the success or failure of the individual in what is a team sport. It is a process much loved by the media and the neutral fan, but hated by those directly involved – unless you win!
Then, as I began to prepare myself for the inevitable, a shot from John Jensen ricocheted off a defender and we had a corner. There was no question, this was our last chance. Merson took the corner out on the left, swung the ball high into the penalty area and there, rising above everyone, appeared Andy Linighan – broken nose leading – to power it towards the net. The despairing Chris Woods in the Sheffield Wednesday goal got his hands to it but couldn’t stop it. YES!! It was in the net. We’d won the Cup! As had been the case at Anfield in 1989, a last minute winning goal is one of the great adrenaline-packed emotional rushes that you can experience in life. It was a night to cherish – for not only had we just won the cup, we’d made history too – the first team ever to win both the League Cup and FA Cup in the same season.
When we finally emerged from the stadium after being part of the Gooner celebrations it was still raining but I didn’t care. I did, however, experience a fleeting flicker of sympathy for the Sheffield supporters. We saw some of their coaches as they exited the stadium, their fans staring glumly through the grey, condensation blurred windows, at the beginning of their long journey back to Yorkshire. They’d had a bad, really bad week and I understood their pain - I’d been there, done that – but it was just a fleeting moment of sympathy. We’d just won the Cup; on a wet night in Wembley it was not a time for reflection, it was a time for celebration. Perhaps the old stadium was winning its way back into my affections.