Still a special day

Winning the FA Cup final is special. But I'd say it probably means more to the British than the Americans.

When I was young, it was the season’s crowning glory. All football fans watched it no matter who was playing - it never occurred to me for a second of my whole childhood that Chelsea might be a participant - and the day was sacrosanct. It was one of the few contests televised live in the seventies and eighties and was surrounded in a ridiculous amount of hype and hoopla.

It is different here in the States. Back then, trying to find live English football just wasn’t going to happen, while now the pendulum has swung the other way. Pretty much every Premier League game is streamed live, with each tie in the latter rounds of the FA Cup beamed instantaneously across the Atlantic.

I think many in the UK tune into the domestic showpiece religiously but in the USA, which is not steeped in the same tradition, neutrals are less likely to bother. The Irish pub where I watched it was busy, but certainly not packed. We had supporters of both finalists, but more have crammed in for league fixtures.

I relished our win with my friend Pat Pocock, a Londoner even older than me, and the first Blues fan I met when I found the bar 14 years ago. We had bitten our nails together during our Champions League triumph in 2012, and after that game a pub regular named Mark snapped a picture of us celebrating with another ‘old timer,’ Colin Dennis, who has since moved back to California.

Mark (an Aston Villa supporter, one of the few neutrals in the pub) told us that Saturday’s victory was exactly six years ago to the day since that famous win in Munich. He insisted on recreating the photo, with a visitor from Illinois standing in for Colin.

Six years since we won the Champions League. The same length of time since we won the FA Cup. Five years since we won the Europa League. Three years since we won the League Cup. Twelve months since we won the Premier League.

Remember the 26-year trophy drought that ended with the 1997 FA Cup win? Hopefully our fans, be they American, British, or anything in between, won’t have to experience that length of wait again any time soon.