Ah, fifth. A year off from the tribulations of Big Cup. We’ll miss it, you say? Miss what, precisely? The form of Arsenalistic torture known as Seize poinçons, or sixteen punches, AKA the inevitable ejection at the Round of Sixteen? The nerve-jangling scrape through the group stages? The pain of playing Munich or the brigands of Catalonia yet again?
No. I shall not miss it. I shall enjoy instead watching Middlesex’s travails next year. There will be crowing, of course. Anyone who has lived near a terrible family who have won the lottery will know what happens. Vulgarity. Displays of wealth. Tottenham, with their small club mentality, will not let us down in this regard. Twitter will be alive with the wriggling, criminal vermin, during that first match. They shall enquire precisely as to what we are watching on the television. And then on the first Thursday evening, when we face off against Influenza Zagreb or Scabies Warsaw, there shall be much mirth from the Home Counties.
Yet this was a trophy Spurs have taken exceptionally seriously before, and will do again. Manchester United, that fading giant, have taken much succour from their ground-out, long-ball atrocity of a final against Ajax. Chelsea were highly delighted to have won it. So it’s not nothing. We should aim to do our very best, to win the bloody thing, and use that to smite our poor trophyless hedge-pigs from Middlesex.
In next season’s Champions’ League, Tottenham are about to embark on the footballing equivalent of a cruise, as if paid for by a Post Office robbery or the aforementioned lottery win or somesuch. It will be very jolly for them at first of course. Zadok the Priest will have their tiny members twitching. There will be lashings of beer and sandwiches. That spotty oik Kane will score a couple of goals. All will no doubt play well. A spot of quoits on deck. A couple of agreeable stopoffs.
But then, things will begin to go wrong. There will be a man overboard. The food will start to go orf. They’ll begin to hate each other’s company. Legionnaire’s disease will break out. Spursiness, that horrible disease, has only been lying dormant. It will reanimate. Most probably for the Round of 16. And then our pain will be Tottenham’s pain. The realisation that yet again they will be trophyless, for the tenth year, will set in. At time of writing we last won a trophy a mere two years ago.
To Sunday then, and a meeting with FC Chelsea 2003 on the morrow. I shall be there, with my dear brother, Lord David of Harringay. We shall journey ever northwestwards, toward the arch of hope, where Diego Costa, a man who looks like a laboratory experiment to blend The Caucasian Shepherd Dog of Azerbaijan with a cement mixer, awaits. HE is a supreme irritant, and will doubtless be kicking and barging and cheating his way toward our goal.
Certainly this will be nothing like the last time we met the Fulham Upstarts in a final, in 2002, a year before Chelsea as we know them were formed. Their Chairman back then was the horrible little hairy goblin Ken Bates, a man who looks to all the world like two raisins stuck in some cotton wool. He was in many ways a friend of Arsenal. It was not until he sold the precursor to Chelsea to Roman Abramovich in 2003 that Chelsea proper were invented with the mission of destroying football as we knew it. The early version of Chelsea were a kind of bumbling, mid-table outfit, a comedy crew, followed by the racists of West London.
Although they were unutterably vile, they were much better than the Chelsea we know today; a rag tag band of footpads and mercenaries who kick their way to honours with depressing regularity. The 2002 final was notable for the 25 yard wonderstrikes from Raymonde Parleur, our battling French midfielder, and Frederick Longshanks, England’s finest and most penetrating winger of the age. We hope for a repeat of the scoreline, which would bring both our trophy back from the clutches of Mourinho, and restore Arsenal’s place as the most decorated FA cup side.
May the gods be with us.