This may come as a surprise to most of you, but tomorrow's Cup Final will be the first I have attended as a supporter despite all my years (41) of supporting Chelsea Football Club and despite the USA flag appearing every time I post or comment I DO live in the UK (SE London to be precise, and I DO go to matches, not as many as I would like, but I DO go).
For the final in 1967 against Tottenham my parents decided I was too young to go, against Leeds in 1970 I was ushered on a school holiday to Majorca (fortunately I was back in good old blighty for the replay and I was STILL too young to travel to Old Trafford), in 1997 I couldn't get tickets nor could I get tickets for the last Wembley final in 2000, although I was there for the last Community Shield game ironically against Man Utd, which Chelsea won and Roy Keane got himself sent off.
In 1972 I was lucky enough to go to the League Cup final when Chelsea lost to Stoke City - the final that was tagged the 'George Eastham' final
For the 1994 FA Cup final against Man Utd in the days of Cantona, Hughes, McClair etc, I did get inside Wembley and I did get to watch the game, but I didn't get a ticket. There was a scam going on with a few of the so-called 'security companies' who were selling slots to work as a steward for the duration of the game.
For a price, you had to work three hours before kick-off in an allocated area and then for your money you were taken up to the centre ring of the stadium to sit on a cold and wet step whilst 'pretending' to control the crowd in your immediate area and allowed to watch the game. I have to admit the view I had of the game was spot on. I got my money's worth despite being deployed amongst the Man Utd fans and Chelsea losing 4-0. A result I still think today was harsh on the Blue boys no thanks to the ref, a certain Mr David Elleray.
Ever since Chelsea reached this year's final I have waited with expectation to visit the new Wembley. I am more looking forward to the occasion rather than the game and even now whilst writing this I am still in awe that I am going to the 'New' Wembley.
Don't get me wrong. I am desperate for Chelsea to win the FA Cup, but for me it will not be a disaster if Man Utd prevail and acheive the 'double.'
Its the occasion I have more interest in, but I am sure and I know once I am inside the Stadium up in the fourth tier wearing my blue shirt with pride and 'Since 66' on the back, I will be supporting the team and club as I always do and I always have!!!
COME ON CHELSEA