Tuesday, February 28, 2012

FA Cup 1999 2000 Chelsea Aston Villa

20 May 2000
Wembley Stadium,

Attendance: 78,217
Referee: Graham Poll

  This is why the F.A. Cup is such a wonderful competition. It is, in football terms, the oldest school of tradition, and in that school tradition is the eternal rocking of boats. We have seen boats rocked here at Wembley in the Final, most recently when Wimbledon beat Liverpool in 1988. There have not really been any major shocks since, and unless Chelsea or Aston Villa win by a landslide this afternoon there will not be a shock this year either. 

 But there has been drama. Linighan's last minute winner for Arsenal against Sheffield Wednesday in the 1993 replay which prevented penalties. Cantona's late volleyed winner against Liverpool in 1996 which secured the League and Cup double. And of course, one of today's contestants, Di Matteo's first minute power-drive for Chelsea against Middlesbrough in 1997. We have not always enjoyed great games in the Final. That is partly because it is so important to the players. But I truly believe that Aston Villa and Chelsea are capable of serving us a great Final. They have wonderful entertainers, and also dogged club servants, the kind of players that fans love. 

 This is an important Final. It is seeing out the old Wembley; it is climaxing a difficult year in which one club - for the only time so far and never again in the foreseeable future - has been excused entry; and it is seeing in a new century. As the competition has climaxed the demand for tickets, the interest of the media, and the sense of impending glory has been stronger than ever. You can broadcast as many club matches as you want, you can create as many new competitions across the world as you like, and you can update the rules of the game bit by bit every year. But you can't lessen the greatness of the F.A. Cup Final. To be here today, to feel a part of Chelsea or Aston Villa, to feel a part of this great competition, or even to watch it on television, is a passion which is incomparable to all other domestic occasions. Villa and Chelsea are worthy Finalists for the last of our dear old Wembley. Ring out the old, ring in the new. May the best team win.

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