Kick off time in each of The Arsenal’s previous finals

By Mark Andrews and Andy Kelly

As part of the run up to the FA Cup final we will be looking into various aspects of Arsenal’s rich history with the competition. Today we cover kick off times.

As a child growing up, I recall the 70s and 80s pre-match entertainment which was all part of the day. And it was a day, not just 90 minutes of football.

1978 FA Cup final day - TV viewing sorted

1978 FA Cup final day – TV viewing sorted

It was somehow magical even if your team were not playing, and the game would always start at 3 o’clock, with commentary either from Brian Moore’s dulcet tones or John Motson’s monotone.

Of course, if at the end our team were playing but did not win, as occurred in 1978 and 1980, the magic quickly turned to that dispensed by Voldemort rather than Harry Potter. But of course with 1979 sandwiched in between it was not all bad.

The question we wish to ask is how traditional is the 3 o’clock kick-off? Was it just a 70s invention, or does it have deeper roots in the competition?

By looking at the table below, it’s really an open and shut case, as every game Arsenal have played in a final (replay exempted for obvious reasons) has been at 3:00 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  ? Y 0

It is only the forthcoming final tie that Arsenal will play at a time other than the traditional time.

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 but 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 it does appear that the FA and Sky have recently been playing about with a traditional kick-off time.

However, the chart also shows 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.



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