Yesterday, Arsenal won the Football Association Cup for a record 12th time, 2nd in a row. The North London giants beat Birmingham-based Aston Villa, 4-0, at the new Wembley Stadium in West London.
Theo Walcott, injured in the 3rd Round last season and unable to play in the remainder of the season, including the Final, scored the opener near the end of the 1st half. The joy on his face was obvious: Although he'd scored in that 3rd Round game before his injury, he so badly wanted to be a part of the tournament win; this time, he was the biggest part of it. He's scored more goals and made more appearances for Arsenal than any current member of the club, but this was far and away the biggest moment in his career.
Goals were scored in the 2nd half by Alexis Sanchez (who'd been anonymous in several big games despite scoring lots of goals in smaller ones, but hit a screamer after scoring both Arsenal goals in the Semifinal against Berkshire side Reading), Per Mertesacker (the German-born defender and Captain using his 6-foot-6 height to score a header), and Olivier Giroud (the much-maligned, and unfairly so, French striker, having come on as a substitute for Walcott, sidefooting in a shot in stoppage time).
Last year's hero, extra-time goalscorer Aaron Ramsey, really wanted to be the hero again, as he had several shots on goal, but none quite made it in. He got frustrated. But he still got his 2nd FA Cup winner's medal.
Wojciech Szczesny, benched for last year's Final in favor of his fellow Pole Lukasz Fabianski, this time got the start in place of the 2nd half of the season's usual starter, Colombia native David Ospina, and kept a clean sheet. He had no sensational saves, but had a few nice ones. He may well have redeemed himself.
I am very pleased that the 2 biggest heroes of this Final were guys who didn't play in last year's Final, Walcott and Szczesny. Jack Wilshere, like Walcott injured and unable to play in last year's Final, came on as a substitute, and got his winner's medal.
Arsene Wenger has now managed 6 FA Cup wins, more than any manager ever. He truly gambled by benching Giroud for Walcott. As the smart Arsenal fans say, "Arsene Knows." (The dumb ones still want him out. I guess trophies are no longer what matter to them.)
It was the 1st time Arsenal had ever scored 4 goals in the final of any cup tournament, other than the 1970 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (forerunner of today's Europa League), and that was over 2 legs (losing 3-1 to Anderlecht in Brussels, Belgium, and then beating them 3-0 in London, for a 4-3 aggregate win).
Villa haven't won the Cup since 1957. This was their 1st appearance in the FA Cup Final since 2000, when they lost to Chelsea, in the last Final played at the old Wembley Stadium, which opened in April 1923, the same month as the old Yankee Stadium. Like that stadium, the old Wembley was replaced with a new one; unlike the new Yankee Stadium, which was built across the street from the old one, the new Wembley was built on the site of the old one, a process that took 7 years, meaning that 6 Finals were moved to the next-biggest stadium in the British Isles, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. (Prior to 1923, the Final was usually held in London, although there were exceptions.)
Shay Given, of Ireland, was 22 when he started in goal for North-East club Newcastle United against Arsenal in the Final at the old Wembley in 1998. Yesterday, at 39, he started in goal for Aston Villa against Arsenal in the Final at the new Wembley. Don't blame the loss on him: He defied his age, making 4 outstanding saves, and essentially kept Villa in the game until Alexis' unstoppable net-seeking missile made it 2-0.
Indeed, Villa did not play poorly. They worked hard, and even in the brief amount of time left after Giroud's goal, they did not hang their heads and act like a beaten team. They weren't humiliated, they were simply defeated by a better team. And even that wasn't truly assured until Mertesacker iced it.
The trophy was handed out by the President of the FA -- Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II. William also handed it out to Arsenal last year. Previously, Arsenal have received the Cup from King George V in 1930, King George VI in 1936 and 1950, Prince Charles in 1979, and Prince George, Duke of Kent, in 1971, 1993, 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2005. (The Duke of Kent is still alive, but it's William's duty now.)
The Queen, now 89 years old but showing no signs of slowing down, also awarded the World Cup to England Captain Bobby Moore at the old Wembley Stadium in 1966. She has admitted to being an Arsenal fan, as were her parents before her (George VI and the woman my generation knew as Elizabeth the Queen Mother -- who lived to be 101 and was still making public appearances, with canes but still upright and mentally with it, near the end). But she hasn't handed the FA Cup out for a long time, and never gave it to an Arsenal Captain; the Gunners just weren't very good at the time. Prince Charles, now 66 and still heir to the throne, has admitted to being a fan of Lancashire side Burnley, which got relegated this season.
William, next in line after his father Charles, is an Aston Villa fan: He didn't like that most of his friends sided with the obvious clubs, such as Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United or Chelsea, so he went with an underdog club. (Villa have a decent history, but they haven't done much in the last 30 years.) His brother, Prince Harry, is an Arsenal fan. I wonder what dinner was like last night.
William's wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, formerly Kate Middleton, recently gave birth to Princess Charlotte, a year and a half after the birth of Prince George, who was born at the start of the 2013-14 season.
She has now had a baby in every season that Arsenal have reached (and won) the FA Cup Final since the new Wembley opened. For her sake, I hope that's just a coincidence!
These men scored the goals that won FA Cup Finals.
Year, name of scorer, club (location, if club has not already been mentioned), uniform number (or the number that would have corresponded to his position prior to 1930), minute of the game of the scoring of the goal that assured his team would have more than the opposition. "ST" means stoppage time, also known as injury time: Time that the referee adds on, at the end of each half, to make up for game time missed due to any stoppage, such as to care for an injury, to address fouls, or for time-wasting; it is added at his discretion, and the number of minutes is a minimum and can have additional time added. "ET" means extra time, what North American sports would call overtime.
Some of the spellings of these names -- of players and of clubs -- may seem odd. Rest assured, I have checked them, and they are correct.
Although Britain entered World War I in August 1914, the League season and Cup tournament that were soon to begin were allowed to play out until May 1915. Then football was suspended for the duration. The war ended in November 1918, but this was considered too late to reorganize for a 1918-19 season, and so that season was not played. The 1919-20 season began on time.
Britain entered World War II in September 1939, and the League season and Cup tournament that had already begun were called off. League football was suspended for the duration, but "Football League War Cup" tournaments were played, and I have included the scorers of the winning goals in this list. The war ended in August 1945, too late to reorganize a new League season for 1945-46, but an FA Cup tournament was organized and held in its entirety. The 1946-47 season began on time. After the troops came home from each World War, attendances skyrocketed, and the game became more popular than ever.
1872 Morton Betts, Wanderers (London), 7, 15th
1873 Arthur Kinnaird, Wanderers, 10, 27th
1874 Charles Mackarness, Oxford University, 2, 10th
1875 William Stafford, Royal Engineers, 8, time of goal unknown
1876 Charles Wollaston, Wanderers, 6, 30th
1877 William Lindsay, Wanderers, 3, 86th
1878 Arthur Kinnaird, Wanderers, 4, 35th
1879 Charles Clerke, Old Etonians (Eton, Berkshire), 6, 59th
1880 Clopton Lloyd-Jones, Clapham Rovers (South London), 11, time unknown
1881 Edwards Wynyard, Old Carthusians (Godalming, Surrey), 9, time unknown
1882 Reginald Macaulay, Old Etonians, 8, 8th
1883 Jimmy Costley, Blackburn Olympic (Lancashire), 10, time unknown but was in ET
1884 Jimmy Forest, Blackburn Rovers (Lancashire), 5, approximately 35th
1885 Jimmy Forest, Blackburn Rovers, 6, time unknown
1886 Joe Sowerbutts (his real name), Blackburn Rovers, 9, time unknown
1887 Archie Hunter, Aston Villa (Birmingham), 9, time unknown
1888 Jem Bayliss, West Bromwich Albion (West Midlands), 9, time unknown
1889 Fred Dewhurst, Preston North End (Lancashire), 10, 15th
1890 Nat Walton, Blackburn Rovers, 10, 10th
1891 Jack Southworth, Blackburn Rovers, 9 time unknown
1892 Jasper Geddes, West Bromwich Albion, 10, time unknown
1893 Harry Allen, Wolverhampton Wanderers (West Midlands), 5, 60th
1894 James Logan, Notts County (Nottingham), 9, time unknown
1895 Bob Chatt, Aston Villa, 8, 1st (30 seconds)
1896 Fred Spiksley, Sheffield Wednesday (Yorkshire), 11, 18th
1897 Jimmy Crabtree, Aston Villa, 6, 44th
1898 Arthur Capes, Nottingham Forest, 10, 42nd
1899 Billy Beer, Sheffield United, 8, 65th
1900 Jasper McLuckie, Bury (Lancashire, now in Greater Manchester), 9, 9th
1901 Tom Smith, Tottenham Hotspur (Middlesex, didn't get put in London until 1965), 7, 76th
1902 Billy Barnes, Sheffield United (Yorkshire), 7, 79th
1903 George Ross, Bury, 6, 20th
1904 Billy Meredith, Manchester City (Lancashire, now in Greater Manchester), 7, 23rd
1905 Harry Hampton, Aston Villa, 9, 2nd
1906 Sandy Young, Everton (Lancashire, now in Merseyside), 9, 77th
1907 George Simpson, Sheffield Wednesday, 11, 86th
1908 George Hedley, Wolverhampton Wanderers, 9, 43rd
1909 Sandy Turnbull, Manchester United (Lancashire, now in Greater Manchester), 10, 22nd
1910 Albert Shepherd, Newcastle United (Northumberland, now in Tyne and Wear), 9, 52nd
1911 Jimmy Speirs, Bradford City (Yorkshire), 8, 15th
1912 Harry Tufnell, Barnsley (Yorkshire), 8, 118th (ET)
1913 Tommy Barber, Aston Villa, 4, 78th
1914 Bert Freeman, Burnley (Lancashire), 9, 57th
1915 James Simmons, Sheffield United, 7, 36th
1916 Tournament canceled due to World War I
1917 Tournament canceled due to World War I
1918 Tournament canceled due to World War I
1919 Tournament canceled due to World War I
1920 Billy Kirton, Aston Villa, 8, 100th (ET)
1921 Jimmy Dimmock, Tottenham Hotspur, 11, 53rd
1922 Billy Smith, Huddersfield Town (Yorkshire), 11, 67th (penalty)
1923 David Jack (future Arsenal star), Bolton Wanderers (Lancashire), 8, 2nd
1924 Neil Harris (not the actor), Newcastle United, 9, 83rd
1925 Fred Tunstall, Sheffield United, 11, 30th
1926 David Jack, Bolton Wanderers, 9, 76th
1927 Hughie Ferguson, Cardiff City (Wales), 9 74th
1928 Tommy McLean, Blackburn Rovers, 10, 22nd
1929 Billy Butler, Bolton Wanderers, 7, 79th
1930 Alex James, Arsenal (North London), 10, 16th
1931 W.G. Richardson, West Bromwich Albion, 9, 58th
1932 Jack Allen, Newcastle United, 9, 72nd
1933 Jimmy Stein, Everton, 11, 41st
1934 Fred Tilson, Manchester City, 11, 74th
1935 Ellis Rimmer, Sheffield Wednesday, 11, 85th
1936 Ted Drake, Arsenal, 9, 74th
1937 Raich Carter, Sunderland, 8, 72nd
1938 George Mutch, Preston North End, 8, 119th (ET, penalty)
1939 John Anderson, Portsmouth, 9, 43rd
1940 Sam Small, West Ham United (East London), 7, 34th
1941 Robert Beattie, Preston North End, number and time unknown
1942 Frank Broome, Wolverhampton Wanderers, 7, 51st
1943 Blackpool, scorer, number and time unknown
1944 Charlton Athletic & Aston Villa drew 1-1, replay canceled due to war-related issues
1945 Bolton Wanderers, scorer, number and time unknown
1946 Peter Doherty (not the singer), Derby County, 10, 92nd (ET)
1947 Chris Duffy, Charlton Athletic (South London), 11, 114th (ET)
1948 Stan Pearson, Manchester United, 10, 80th
1949 Jessie Pye, Wolverhampton Wanderers, 9, 42nd
1950 Reg Lewis, Arsenal, 10, 18th
1951 Jackie Milburn, Newcastle United, 9, 40th
1952 George Robledo, Newcastle United, 84th
1953 Bill Perry, Blackpool, 11, 92nd (ST)
1954 Frank Griffin, West Bromwich Albion, 7, 87th
1955 Bobby Mitchell (not the American football star), Newcastle United, 11, 52nd
1956 Bobby Johnstone, Manchester City, 7, 62nd
1957 Peter McParland, Aston Villa, 11, 73rd
1958 Nat Lofthouse, Bolton Wanderers, 9, 3rd
1959 Tommy Wilson (not the music producer), Nottingham Forest, 9, 14th
1960 Mick McGrath, Blackburn Rovers, 6, 41st, own goal to Wolverhampton Wanderers
1961 Bobby Smith, Tottenham Hotspur, 9, 66th
1962 Bobby Smith, Tottenham Hotspur, 9, 51st
1963 David Herd (former Arsenal star), Manchester United, 9, 57th
1964 Ronnie Boyce, West Ham United, 8, 90th
1965 Ian St. John, Liverpool, 9, 113th (ET)
1966 Derek Temple, Everton, 11, 74th
1967 Frank Saul, Tottenham Hotspur (now, finally, in North London), 11, 67th
1968 Jeff Astle, West Bromwich Albion, 9, 93rd (ET)
1969 Neil Young (not the singer), Manchester City, 10, 24th
1970 David Webb, Chelsea (West London), 6, 104th (ET)
1971 Charlie George, Arsenal, 11, 111th (ET)
1972 Allen Clarke, Leeds United (Yorkshire), 8, 53rd
1973 Ian Porterfield, Sunderland, 10, 51st
1974 Kevin Keegan, Liverpool, 7, 57th
1975 Alan Taylor, West Ham United, 9, 60th
1976 Bobby Stokes, Southampton, 11, 83rd
1977 Jimmy Greenhoff, Manchester United, 8, 55th
1978 Roger Osborne, Ipswich Town, 7, 77th
1979 Alan Sunderland, Arsenal, 8, 89th
1980 Trevor Brooking, West Ham United, 10, 13th
1981 Ricky Villa, Tottenham Hotspur, 5, 76th
1982 Glenn Hoddle, Tottenham Hotspur, 10, 6th (penalty)
1983 Bryan Robson, Manchester United, 7, 25th
1984 Graeme Sharp, Everton, 9, 38th
1985 Norman Whiteside, Manchester United, 4, 110th (ET)
1986 Craig Johnston, Liverpool, 8, 62nd
1987 Gary Mabbutt, Tottenham Hotspur, 6, 95th (ET), own goal to Coventry City (West Midlands)
1988 Lawrie Sanchez, Wimbledon (South London), 10, 37th
1989 Ian Rush, Liverpool, 14 (usually 9), 104th
1990 Lee Martin, Manchester United, 3, 59th
1991 Des Walker, Nottingham Forest, 4, 94th (ET), own goal to Tottenham Hotspur
1992 Michael Thomas (former Arsenal star), Liverpool, 11, 47th
1993 Andy Linighan, Arsenal, 5, 119th (ET)
1994 Eric Cantona, Manchester United, 7, 60th (penalty)
1995 Paul Rideout, Everton, 15, 30th
1996 Eric Cantona, Manchester United, 7, 85th
1997 Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea, 16, 1 (42 seconds)
1998 Marc Overmars, Arsenal, 11, 23rd
1999 Teddy Sheringham, Manchester United, 10, 11th
2000 Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea, 16, 73rd
2001 Michael Owen, Liverpool, 10, 88th
2002 Ray Parlour, Arsenal, 15, 70th
2003 Robert Pires, Arsenal, 7, 38th
2004 Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United, 7, 44th
2005 Patrick Vieira, Arsenal, 4, penalties
2006 John Arne Riise, Liverpool, 6, penalties
2007 Didier Drogba, Chelsea, 11, 116th (ET)
2008 Nwankwo Kanu (former Arsenal star), Portsmouth, 27 (previously 25), 37th
2009 Frank Lampard, Chelsea, 8, 72nd
2010 Didier Drogba, Chelsea, 11, 59th
2011 Yaya Toure, Manchester City, 42, 74th
2012 Didier Drogba, Chelsea, 11, 52nd
2013 Ben Watson, Wigan Athletic (Greater Manchester), 91st (ST)
2014 Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal, 16, 109th (ET)
2015 Theo Walcott, Arsenal, 14, 40th
Scored the Cup-winning goal twice: 7 men, most recently Didier Drogba in 2010.
Done it 3 times: Drogba.
Fastest: Bob Chatt, 1895, 30 or so seconds.
Did it to his own team with an own goal: Mick McGrath, Gary Mabbutt, Des Walker.
Latest in regular time: Bill Perry, 1953, 92nd minute.
Did it in extra time: 16 men, most recently Aaron Ramsey in 2014.
Latest in extra time: George Mutch in 1938 and Andy Linighan in 1993, 119th minute.
Did it with an in-game penalty: Billy Smith, George Mutch, Glenn Hoddle and Eric Cantona.
Did it during postgame penalties: Patrick Vieira in 2005, John Arne Riise in 2006.
In 2009, Louis Saha of Everton scored 25 seconds into the game, the fastest FA Cup Final goal ever (for those games where I've listed "time unknown," if it had been scored in the 1st minute, that fact surely would have been recorded), but Everton went on to lose the game.
Squad numbers were assigned to positions until 1993. The highest number allowed was 11 until substitutes were allowed starting in the 1966-67 season, then 12 until 1986-87, then 14 with the allowance of a second sub, until 1993. The highest number yet worn by any player in an FA Cup Final is 45, by Mario Balotelli of Manchester City in 2011. The 42 worn in the same game by winning goalscorer Yaya Toure would have broken the record had Balotelli not played.
Roberto DiMatteo is the only non-playing manager to have both scored an FA Cup-winning goal and managed an FA Cup-winning team.
Jimmy Forest never played for Nottingham Forest. Alan Sunderland never played for Sunderland. Ricky Villa never played for Aston Villa.