Tomorrow, some friends and I will be gathering at our favorite football pub, Nevada Smith's at about 8:30am to take in the spledor of the Football Association Cup Final between my Liverpool Reds and London's West Ham United. The FA Cup, basically the Superbowl of English football, is a year long tournament that is open to every football team in England registered with the Football Association*, and this year, both Liverpool and West Ham have earned a trip to the final, to be played in Cardiff, Wales at the Millenium Stadium.
One Nil Down, Two One Up! Michael Owen Won The Cup: The 2001 FA Cup Final at the Millenium Stadium. Liverpool's last gasp win against Arsenal on a Michael Owen double is the second greatest game I've ever seen. Last year's Champion's League Final being, of course, the greatest.
It's hard for me not to like West Ham as a club; the pride of working class London, a team that was just promoted to the top flight of football after a few years in the Championship, and loaded with young, exciting players, and a great batch of supporters (about whom, you'll remember, a film was made**). West Ham are a team that, were they playing any other side, I would be hoping would win the Cup.
Marlon Harewood makes a bid for a yellow
But they aren't playing any other side, they are playing Liverpool FC. My team. We have had an amazing season, winning the Super Cup at the start of the season (beating UEFA Cup winners CSKA Moscow 3-1 in extra time***), an amazing number of clean sheet victories, and a 3rd place finish in the league. It has been the FA Cup competition, however, that has been the source of our greatest success this year. Not only did we knock Man United**** out of the tournament with a great 1-0 win at home , we then went to Old Trafford and beat league title winners Chelsea, 2-1 on a great, doubt-free goal from Chelsea-killer Luis Garcia, and an amazing free kick from John Arne Riise.
John Arne Riise, how did you score that goal?
So, the final is tommorrow, and Liverpool must get it done to be named champions. I expect an entertaining, hard-fought match, but in the end, I think my Reds prevail. Of course, the FA Cup final is the place where dreams are made, and many underdog sides have risen to the occassion and won the Cup. All I know is, I'll be at Nevada's, among friends and foes, enjoying the final game of the season, and singing my side to victory!
Come on You Reds!
*Translation for Americans: Imagine a year-round baseball tournament with teams from A, AA, AAA, and MLB all competing against one another and you get the idea. **Be sure to follow the link and read the comments after the post to get a sense of the passion of West Ham supporters ***And inspiring CSKA supporters at Nevada's to query my friends and me "if we were Liverpool holligans who would like to go outside and fight"? HILARIOUS! **** aka The Scum. It's hard for me to even type the letters M, A, N, and U.