By Scott C. Mossman
Do you remember when we won the cup? Do you remember when Vermaelen lifted the trophy? It wasn’t long ago, was it? At George’s Pub in Jenks, America we sang we would win 3-2 even while still down 2-nil. We sang it over and over again. I never met Paddy, but he would have been proud of our effort I’m sure. When it looked just like so many disappointing games from that same season, we sang it. “We’re going to win 3-2! We’re going to win 3-2!” It was almost like we were joking. I can’t quite remember the tone in our voices now, but the sarcasm at George’s as the Sooner Gooners watch the Arsenal has been well documented over time. I like to think we actually believed on that occasion, though. I remember seeing Jayson Klassen in front of the pub that day and singing “She wore” on the way in. It was our small time Oklahoma version of a day in the sun outside of Wembley. Main Street in Jenks isn’t anything most Arsenal fans around the world would recognize, but it was red and white that day and the sun was shining on us.
I watched the Carling Cup final on my TV back in 2011 when I still lived in Norman, OK. It was just the League Cup, but I remember how excited I was to see Arsenal in a final. Due to my American upbringing, I only found out about the Arsenal in 2006 so this was my first final. Arsenal lost the match to Birmingham City. I don’t bring up that match because there’s anything I want to share from that experience or because there’s any real goddamn reason for it. I bring it up because when Hull scored their second, in 2014, it did cross my mind that I might not ever see Arsenal lift a trophy. Arsenal fans of old will tell me now how ridiculous that thought probably was, but it was different for me. I’m sure it was different for many Arsenal fans around the world who didn’t know what it was like to simply grow up with football. When this passion takes hold of you without warning, when days between matches become useless so suddenly, a cup final day is torture. One day. One final. That’s all the preparation I had for the FA Cup final 2014. All I knew was heartbreak. All I knew was years of waiting, years of pain, and then more waiting. All I had were useless days in between one match after another just waiting for a day in the sun that I could have for always. That’s a lot of fucking days. This all sounds a bit ‘Chicago Cubs’ now, but that’s baseball. Go fuck yourself, baseball. This is Arsenal. This is The Arsenal. This is my life.
I remember thinking when Santi scored to make it 2-1 that we were in pretty good shape. We had pulled one back in the first half and we were better than Hull so it felt like the game would go our way from that point on. I remember thinking how odd it felt that we hadn’t scored again until the 71st minute when Koscielny equalised. We should have scored again earlier. Still, I thought we would win it in the next 20 minutes before the game went to extra time. I’m sure many of us felt that way. However, when you support a club with a habit of never allowing you to feel comfortable in just about any game, you can never be sure what will happen. Let’s be clear, I’m not just talking about what might happen in a single football match. The following 20 minutes had every right to impact the rest of my life in whichever conceivable manner it wanted to. What might happen to the club if we let this opportunity slip away? What might happen to my sanity? Does any employer give a fucking shit about your qualifications when Arsenal lose the cup to some fucking club from Hull?!? The interviewer may never know, but I would know! Fucking fuck! Like I said, fuck off, baseball. Cunts.
The match didn’t just go into extra time, it was level on into the second period of extra time. That’s as far as things are allowed to go before things get to penalties and you kill yourself. You might as fucking well. Football only ruins lives…except when it doesn’t. For once, it didn’t. For once, Aaron Ramsey scored off of a back heel pass from (naaaaaa naaaaa naaa na na na na na na na na) Giroud. We won. It didn’t happen, did it? Did it actually happen? Yes, yes it did. There’s even video evidence. What’s really funny is how I remember it all in slow motion. I remember every beautiful moment both in the pub and on the pitch in London from the millions of times I’ve watched every angle and every video. However, the video of the Sooner Gooners at George’s (thanks to Brent Bushnell) clearly shows me desperately pushing aside a chair to embrace Tyler Outlaw the way I imagine a young deer would react if it became aware of its thin legs and hit puberty all in the same instant. I was drunk. I was happy. We actually, legitimately drank the pub out of Guinness that day.
It all feels so long ago now, but it wasn’t long ago at all. Even I get caught up in the rate at which this sport moves along. Since we lifted the cup there has been a World Cup, we’ve signed new players, we’ve said farewell to old players, we’ve started wearing Puma brand instead of Nike, etc. A lot can happen in football. There can be a lot of transfer speculation. Alexis can make you forget you prefer women over men. Things happen. Do we appreciate that cup enough, though? I’m not ready to let go of that day. I waited so long for it and I don’t know when there will be another like it. I don’t care what our ambitions are, what players we should sign, whether Ozil gives a flying toss. That is all secondary to me now, at best. Rambo scored. I’ll die with that. Put me on my death bed and give me my last words. “Rambo scored”, I’ll say. Whatever happens next or in the future, I got my trophy. It was my first trophy and it was beautiful. It was everything Herbert Chapman or Alan Sunderland could mean to anyone and more. We won.
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