At the weekend London maintained its record of having got at least one team to every FA Cup final played since the venue moved from Wembley to the Welsh capital when the ‘Appy Ammers reached the May 13th showdown much to the delight of West Ham legend Sir Trevor Brooking (pictured) who stooped to conquer Arsenal with the winning header in 1980, the last time the Upton Park side captured the trophy. These days Sir Trevor is strictly neutral in his capacity as FA Director of Football, so it was left to manager Alan Pardew, himself a cup finalist with Crystal Palace in 1990, to dance a celebratory jig on the touchline.
The temptation is to think of West Ham as the plucky underdogs to Liverpool’s Goliaths, but the final will actually be the meeting of the cup’s equal third and equal fifth most successful post-war clubs. Liverpool have six wins to West Ham’s three (1964, 1975 and 1980) all of which were achieved with either Ron Greenwood or John Lyall as manager, both of whom sadly passed away earlier this year. Pardew, who many supporters wanted out a year ago, could both emulate his illustrious predecessors and put a certain amount of egg on Sir Trevor’s face. Brooking was drafted in to help select the new national manager and if Pardew comes back from Cardiff with the cup he would at a stroke become the most successful English candidate despite not making the FA’s shortlist.
Chelsea failed to join West Ham thanks to their latest bout of Semi-Finalist’s Block, but London is assured of at least one all-capital final as tonight Hendon take on fellow Isthmian League Premier side Fisher Athletic in the London FA’s Senior County Cup final. Fisher will hope to take their match tally against Hendon this season to a 4-1 lead in adding the association’s premier trophy to the Veterans’ Cup they recently secured, while Hendon will welcome the chance to go into next Saturday’s relegation decider at Margate with a morale-boosting trophy in their grasp. The game is being played at Tooting & Mitcham’s Imperial Fields ground and kick off is scheduled for 7:30 pm.
Fifteen minutes later Arsenal kick off in Spain ninety minutes away from reaching their first ever Champions League final. Sol Campbell returns from injury and will be aiming to impress Sven in time to board this summer’s plane bound for Germany while the squirrel faces a late fitness test. If Theo Walcott gets on and scores he would be the youngest ever player to notch in the Champions’ League, while Chelsea are apparently interested in a seven figure move for his England Under 17 team-mate, Manchester City striker Daniel Sturridge. Londonist has seen them both play and in our opinion Sturridge is the better of the two. Like Walcott his acceleration frightens defenders and he also has a fierce shot as he showed in scoring both of City’s goals against Liverpool in last Friday night’s FA Youth Cup final second leg.
If Sturridge follows Shaun Wright-Phillips to Stamford Bridge he’ll hope to one day win the PFA’s Wayne Rooney of the Year Award, this year duly retained by it’s dedicatee ahead of Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas who might have won for his recent outstanding performances if the voting hadn’t finished in February. Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard got the main gong ahead of Thierry Henry and Chelsea’s John Disallowed and Joe Conversion.
London clubs also supplied nine members of the PFA’s divisional teams of the year. If you stretch the remit down the M4 a bit you could have a full XI: Hahnemann (Reading and ex-Fulham), Gallas (Chelsea), Lockwood (Leyton Orient), Terry (Chelsea), Sodje (Brentford), Cole (Chelsea), Lampard (Chelsea), Sidwell (Reading and ex-Arsenal), Young (Watford), King (Watford), Henry (Arsenal).
Photo of Sir Trev via KeithPagePhoto's Flickr stream.