FA Cup Final

When I was a little kid living in Toronto, my dad and I used to gather around a small shortwave radio and listen to Division One football matches from England. He'd raise the atenna and hang it out of the window to get a better signal. It's one of the best memories from being a kid. You'd sit there and imagine the players, like Frank Stapleton, Norman Whiteside, Ossie Ardiles and others scoring brilliant goals. Years later, when we moved to California, we'd line up at 6am outside the Britannia Arms in Cupertino. It was a small pub in a strip mall owned by a man named Tommy who was a huge Blackburn Rovers supporter. You'd pay $10 to get in and it was really the only way to watch British football in the U.S. The highlight of every season was the FA Cup Final, the oldest cup competition in the World. You'd pay more to get into the pub and, when we still listened on the radio, we'd be hyperfocused.

This past weekend, my dad and I attended the FA Cup Final as the mighty Watford FC took on oil-rich Manchester City, a billion pound footballing machine who was going for their fourth trophy of the year. There was really only ever going to be one outcome, but still, attending this match was a highlight of my life. Walking up Wembley Way surrounded by supporters from both sides, it was a celebratory atmosphere that continued throughout the day. The first 30 minutes of the match (when I had the smallest bit of hope) was exciting. By the time we were down 5-0 it felt brutal, but then all of us in the Watford end picked up our flags and continued to cheer the team on. The striking juxtaposition of the two sets of fans was quite startling. Watford, down 5-0, singing, supporting, and basking in the moment of being in the final countered by an almost silent City end waiting for another trophy. It really said so much about the global game in 2019. Being with my dad, and close friends who are more like family, was special and something I will never forget.

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