The 1993 FA Cup Final really was a sorry excuse for a game; both of them. In a repeat of that years League Cup Final, Arsenal faced Sheffield Wednesday, who somehow were among the top tier of Premier League sides at the time. The English game was in a horrific state, with the national team stuttering in their quest to qualify for the World Cup. This was confirmed by the fact that Carlton Palmer was a regular in the England side, while starring for Wednesday. The notion of an ‘Owls’ player being selected for England again is as likely as Wednesday ever getting back to the premiership.
A few weeks earlier Arsenal had beaten Wednesday 2-1 in the ‘Coca-Cola Cup’ final. Remembered only because some guy called Morrow broke his arm after an already inebriated Tony Adams dropped him after the match, it was a tragic indication of what was to come. When the stale outfits faced each other for the fourth time that season on May 15th, there could have been few excited football fans in the world.
This was confirmed by the disgusting 1-1 draw that followed, a match so technically inept and dull that even Jack Charlton was seen shaking his head in disbelief. Botched pass after botched pass summed the final up, with Martin Tyler sensationally stating that he and Andy Gray ‘enjoyed the game.’ Gray said ‘this is football the way it should be, players hacking the shit out of each other with no ambition to attack.’ He praised a ‘new generation of no nonsense footballers’ like Paul Warhurst, David Hirst, Andy Linighan, John Jensen and Nigel Winterburn for overshadowing ‘fancy lads’ like Chris Waddle and Paul Merson.
The replay later that week was attended by 62,000 people, proving just how shit this match was as perceived by the general public. Once again these two mediocre sides went the distance, with Linighans header in the 498th minute saving the nation from the spectre of penalties. He was helped by Chris Woods crap save, suitable for England’s number one shot stopper at the time. Waddle was shown in a crumpled heap in tears and Palmer sat on the field digging dirt out of his boots. Merson meanwhile was seen imitating drinking a bottle of Skol. Some have said it was because of his drinking problem, while others speculate he was simply mimicking the state of the nation after enduring the never ending match.
The Arsenal nucleus of Merson, Adams, Winterburn, Dixon, Smith and Seaman are still in existence to this day and are believed not to have aged since 1988. Meanwhile sub Ian Selley is now 36 years old and playing for Dorchester Town.
Arsenal could only dream of having a team with John Harkes and Ian Bright in 2010. They are an unfeasibly grotesque side.