FA Cup Final

Arsenal’s Kick-Off Times

The purists would still want the FA Cup final at 3pm on the last Saturday of the season,” – Greg Dyke

You would have thought that Greg Dyke, the Chairman of the FA would have been more worried about the lack of tickets for fans of both the finalists. Apparently he is very concerned about ticket allocation but, as there have been no changes for this season’s final, be assured he is on the case for next year.

Instead he decided to sneer and rail against those who would appreciate a traditional 3pm kick-off for the FA Cup final as opposed to the totally ahistoric 5.30pm slot.

Greg (aged 68) said we all have to move with the times before adding without any apparent parody:

“Old men are always dangerous. You should never let them make the decisions…

Well you said it Mr Dyke. Thanks to the ever excellent Yogi’s Warrior for alerting us to this fatuousness.

Is the 3 o’clock kick-off time a tradition? Was it just a recent invention or does it have deeper roots in the competition? Is it progressive to alter the time of the kick offs, or just an utter waste of energy and another example of the FA bowing before Sky dictats?

By looking at the table below, it’s really an open and shut case, as every game Arsenal have played before 2014 in a final (replay exempted for obvious reasons) has been at 3.00pm on a Saturday.

Year Kick off (pm) Location Result Final game of season League games after final
1927 3.00 Wembley Lost N 4
1930 3.00 Wembley Won N 2
1932 3.00 Wembley Lost N 4
1936 3.00 Wembley Won N 4
1950 3.00 Wembley Won N 2
1952 3.00 Wembley Lost Y 0
1971 3.00 Wembley Won Y 0
1972 3.00 Wembley Lost N 2
1978 3.00 Wembley Lost N 1
1979 3.00 Wembley Won N 1
1980 3.00 Wembley Lost N 2
1993 3.00 Wembley Drawn Y 0
1993 replay 8.30 Wembley Won Y 0
1998 3.00 Wembley Won Y 0
2001 3.00 Millenium Lost N 2
2002 3.00 Millenium Won N 2
2003 3.00 Millenium Won Y 0
2005 3.00 Millenium Won Y 0
2014 5.00 Wembley  Won Y 0
2015 5.30 Wembley ? Y 0

It is only the forthcoming final tie and last year’s that Arsenal will play at a time other than the traditional kick off. It’s not even the same time as last year!

Prior to the final being played at Wembley it was played first at the Kennington Oval, where times were not set, and in 1873 the final started at 11:30 am so it did not clash with the boat race! And there are other examples of the times not being set for 3.00, but by the late 1890s the time was generally 3.00 whilst the location was shifted to Crystal Palace.

Famously, the first FA Cup final at Wembley was delayed due to a ridiculously oversubscribed crowd, but the time was scheduled for 3.00.

So yes, the FA and Sky have been messing around for no better reason than they can, and have the temerity to tell those who aren’t overly impressed with their tinkering that they should just accept their “enlightened” mode of thinking.

As Mr Dyke alluded to the fact the chart also shows whether the final was actually the last game of the season. The final has more often than not failed to be the final game of the season, though at least for Arsenal since 1952 onwards the final was the scheduled last game. Arsenal have regularly had a slew of replays or postponed games that had to be rescheduled for after the Cup final. 1979 and 1980 being the most obvious ones.

So in reality the FA Cup final being the last game of the season is more a relatively modern post-1952 event not really a tradition.

But the kick-off time should always be 3:00 on a Saturday.


Greg Dyke brought Roland Rat onto TV in 1983


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