By Tony Attwood
Wembley has always been a pig of a place to get to, but the Millenium Stadium was worse, unless you really knew a) how to avoid the motorway approach that the local police thought it amusing the funnel everyone into and b) how to find suitable side streets to park in.
(Actually the motorway approach used to be amusing in that they would put up signs saying “Arsenal exit 23a” and “Blatherwick Utd exist 23b” or something like this. They did, unlike me, get the exit numbers right, but they would put them up not the team colours but in other colours (often reversing team colours), so some people took the wrong exit – maybe deliberately.
The alternative route in avoiding the motorway was no longer, but much quicker and took us to street parking about 2 miles walk from the stadium through rows of terraced houses and into the shopping centre. A perfectly decent walk and certainly preferable to endless hours sitting in queues to get in, and queues to get out.
Even going by train could be a disaster as it was for the League Cup Final on Sunday 25 February 2007 when Network Rail had a universal cock up on the line, and loads of ticket holders failed to make it into the ground by kick off. As far as I recall they didn’t hold up the game, because television said it would affect their schedules. Hard luck paying customer.
So the game went on, Theo (aged 17) scored his first goal, there was a bit of pushing and shoving and Howard Webb did his stuff sending off Toure and Adebayor – the latter giving us an insight into his personality by refusing to leave the pitch for quite a while. Indeed the shape of things to come.
If you really want to, you can see it all here on You Tube.
Arsenal have overall been in the Diddly Cup final seven times since first entering in 1967 (refusing to enter earlier contests on the grounds that it was too silly). That is seven in 47, or just under once in every seven. So out next venture should be marked down for 2018. Book up now.
- 1968 – Arsenal 0-1 Leeds United
1969 – Arsenal 1-3 Swindon Town
1987 – Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
1988 – Arsenal 2-3 Luton Town
1993 – Arsenal 2-1 Sheffield Wednesday
2007 – Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea
2011 – Arsenal 1 Birmingham 2
In the 2007 venture we played out the competition this way being drawn away throughout
|West Bromwich Albion
|Semi-final (1st leg)
|Semi-final (2nd leg)
|Tottenham Hotspur (extra time)
The highlight was beyond doubt the quarter final, but that needs a separate article. I’ll come back to it. And of course a look at the semi.
As for the game, we were the entertaining, quick, speedy side throughout, they were the Didier Drogba, the grit, the old team, the John Terry, the Jose Mourinho “win and who cares how” team. Howard Webb was Howard Webb.
Abou Diaby kicked John Terry in the head on 57 minutes and I am ashamed to say that at that actual moment I cheered. (Well, not that ashamed).
Diaby was also involved in Theo’s goal – the two exchanged passes and Theo lifted the ball over the Czech Chelsea keeper. It was all pass and move from Arsenal, but we needed another or better still two, to keep the old men quiet, but it didn’t happen.
Michael Ballack lifted a ball to Drogba, Senderos was slow out and kept him onside, Almunia was not at his best.
The play changed, Arjen Robben came on and Drogba got the final goal of the game with six minutes left.
As we look at Arsenal’s team we can see the mix of those who made it and and those who didn’t. We didn’t put out Theirry Henry etc, but that was how Mr Wenger ran it in those days.
Hoyte, Touré ·, Senderos, Traoré ( Eboué , 67);
Walcott, Fábregas , Denilson , Diaby (Hleb, 69);
Aliadière (Adebayor, 81), Julio Baptista.
Subs not used Djourou, Poom.
Fabregas and Denilson were booked.
After the game, Bridge pronounced that he had been punched by Eboue not Adebayor. Arsenal and Chelsea both told the FA that it was a case of wrongful dismissal of both Adebayor and Mikel.
The FA being in their normal state of denial, denied everything, turned the appeal down and then charged Arsenal and Chelsea being unable to control their players.
Then, having denied the wrong person was sent off they charged Eboué with violent conduct and Adebayor for refusing to leave the pitch when sent off.
Meanwhile the FA however said nothing about the missiles (reported as celery) that Chelsea supporters threw on the pitch which stopped the game.
So that was the end of visiting the Millenny, watching Arsenal’s under 21s. We also played there in the FA cup (both final and semi-final). In this game we played well, especially in the opening, but the oil money beat the kids
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