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How I Got My Cup Final Tickets

There is nothing in the United States to quite compare with England's FA Cup Final. It is our Super Bowl (American football) and World Series (baseball) rolled into one. The final of this 130-year-old competition is England's premier sports event, and tickets, even for a participating team's most ardent fans, are extremely difficult to come by. 
In the 1971-72 season each Arsenal game programme had a little triangular voucher at the top corner of the back page. These vouchers were the currency by which one proved himself worthy to purchase Cup-Final tickets. This was the second season I had followed Arsenal. The year before, the team had achieved a historic double, winning the league championship and the FA Cup. I had attended virtually every home match (and many on the road), but I was careless about keeping vouchers, and I didn't remotely qualify for tickets.
The next season, although one would certainly not reasonably expect Arsenal to reach the final a second consecutive year, I was more conscientious, and when, miraculously, Arsenal did again reach the final, my application contained 20 of the 22 possible vouchers. (I was unable to attend one match, and at another I was unable to buy a programme).
I mailed my application with vouchers properly attached, a cheque and a self-addressed envelope (for the FA to use - hopefully - to send me my ticket!) , and waited to see if a precious ticket would arrive. I knew it would be close. I was missing two vouchers. It was a couple of weeks of checking daily and finding nothing significant, when one Saturday morning my mail contained two envelopes. One was MY OWN SELF-ADDRESSED ENVELOPE! The other piece of mail, a brown envelope with no return address, was obviously junk mail.
It was one of those moments when time seems to stop, and yet you are acutely aware of certain physical things happening to you. Perspiration oozing. Heart pounding. The tip-off was the presence of my cheque. As soon as that self-addressed envelope was even slightly opened and I could see the cheque, I knew my fate. The enclosed letter said they were sorry. Tickets were scarce, and applications were many. My two missed vouchers had doomed me. Well, I had thought 20 out of 22 tickets would be enough. My heart was no longer pounding and had moved to somewhere in my lower stomach. The nervous ooze of perspiration had gone clammy as I absent-mindedly opened the piece of junk mail. OH MY GOD! WHAT'S THIS?... TWO TICKETS.... TO... THE CUP FINAL?
That plain brown envelope contained two cup final tickets and a short letter. The letter was from a Mr. G.A. Watts. It said something like, "Your friend in San Francisco, Mr. James Howell asked that I send you these tickets. I hope you enjoy the match". Jamie was indeed a friend in San Francisco, but who was G.A. Watts? And how could he have this man send me tickets?
It turned out that Mr. Watts was chairman of Everton Football Club! My friend Jamie was working at the Jefferson Airplane offices in San Francisco, where his secretary was Jackie Watts, Mr. Watts' daughter. Jamie knew that I was a fanaticalArsenal supporter, and he simply asked a friend and fellow worker if her father would send me tickets. And, amazingly, they arrived in the same post as my own rejected ticket application!
Leeds United beat Arsenal 1-0 that year, but the important thing is that I was there!
Adapted and reproduced courtesy of


By John Verbeck



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