Arsenal FC – Good Old Arsenal

7th May 1971 · 1970s, 1971, Music

If 1971 was the year of my musical awakening, it was also the year of my football awakening. And the FA Cup final was the first time I ever saw my team play.

On the afternoon of Saturday 8 May, shortly before 3 o’clock, I remember being herded into a room at my boarding school for the biggest annual event in the football calendar, the FA Cup Final – the only football match broadcast live in those days.

I can’t remember if the telly was colour or black-and-white – probably the latter.

Growing up mostly in Germany, I had already supported Arsenal in an abstract way ever since a friend there told me, when we were seven or eight, that it was fun to follow an English team and read about them in weekly boys’ magazines.

I took his advice and followed his team, who never seemed to win much but usually hovered around the upper part of the First Division table.

By 8 May I had never seen them play but I knew Arsenal had won the league a few days earlier, for the first time in ages – I had seen a grainy black-and-white newspaper photo – and that if they won this they would win something called The Double.

By the time the game kicked off I was excited beyond belief. Wembley was full and the sun was shining, as it always does on Cup Final day. The players seemed to wilt in the heat. So much so that no one scored or, as I remember it, came close to scoring for 90 minutes.

In extra time Liverpool scored a goal. But then a lanky kid in a yellow shirt and blue shorts with greasy hair, called Charlie George, scored one from miles out and lay down on his back on the lush Wembley turf as if he had no more energy to stand.

A bit later, someone else in yellow squeezed the ball into Liverpool’s net. It was hard to see who got the last touch in a crowded goal area.

Soon after that the whistle blew and Frank McLintock clambered up some steps to lift the gleaming silver FA Cup above his head – and an enormous roar of delight went around the stadium.

Anyway, this was the first ever FA Cup final song, inspired by England’s World Cup song Back Home the previous year, and the lyrics were written by Jimmy Hill (which I never knew til now).

That was their fourth FA Cup victory. Since then they’ve won ten more to reach a record 14 (so far).