Author Topic: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006  (Read 9888 times)

Offline ashleyrose-66

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RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« on: November 26, 2013, 03:53:07 PM »
Just 353 days separated Liverpool’s ‘impossible’ come-back to win the best European Cup Final ever (and a fifth European Cup), and arguably the greatest FA Cup Final ever.

Both scorelines ended 3-3.  Both games were won on penalties, by Liverpool.

Liverpool were making what would be their penultimate trip to Cardiff’s impressive Millennium Stadium (the Community Shield against Chelsea in August would be the last) for yet another final. 
Whilst Wembley was being re-built, Liverpool had already played at the Millennium Stadium on 5 occasions before the FA Cup Final on 13th May.  Our record wasn’t too shabby in Wales either.  Only an extra-time defeat against Chelsea in the League Cup Final in 2005 would see the Reds leave Cardiff empty handed! 
Worth noting that we would exact revenge on Chelsea just 3 months later as Luis Garcia’s goal sent us on our way to our 5th European Cup!!

Liverpool loved playing in Cardiff, and we loved coming to the Millennium Stadium. 
A kick-about amongst what seemed like hundreds of fans outside the City Arms was now customary, though you couldn’t get a pint in the City Arms as the queue was absolutely gigantic, most had to make do with some cans from the offie nearby.   Didn’t matter though, we were there.  We were at the FA Cup Final in Cardiff.
 
The cries of “Igor” would go up whenever someone shanked the ball on to the roof of a nearby building, and having a piss meant a wander in to the multi-story car park next to the pub.  It must have absolutely reeked in there the day after a match!!  Loved seeing all the banners on the car park, it always looked superb.
 
I don’t remember ever leaving Cardiff sober…  I'd already been to the 2001 League Cup Final against Birmingham (couldn't make the FA Cup Final against Arsenal), the Community Shield in August 2001, the 2003 League Cup final against Man Utd (with the roof closed!) and the 2005 League Cup Final against Chelsea, and had an absolutely brilliant time at all of them - Even the Chelsea game, which we lost!!   I really miss Cardiff!   :(

I woke on the morning of the match feeling relaxed, probably a bit blasé if truth be told, about the game.  I was going with my brother, so we met up at Victoria coach station armed with a carrier bag full of cans each to get us in the mood for the craic in Cardiff. 
I suspected the journey would be a quiet one, considering we were leaving at 07.00 to make sure were in Cardiff nice and early for a bit of a pre-match sing-song and kick-about outside the City Arms!  However, I hadn’t factored in the 3 West Ham fans on the coach that had travelled through the night from Norway!!

They were absolutely steaming drunk as they had been on it all night whilst making their way over the Atlantic, and had found themselves occupying the back seats of the National Express coach from London Victoria to Cardiff.
Things started peacefully enough, the coach was full, and there was a good mix of Liverpool shirts and West ham shirts on the coach, and most were taking the opportunity to get a bit of shut-eye due to getting up so early to get to the coach station.

All of a sudden, a blast of “I’m forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air” started up in heavy Norwegian accents from the back of the coach.  They weren’t exactly “A-Ha” as that one single fucking line was all they knew of the song, so here we were, on the M4 at 07.30am, with 3 pissed Norwegian’s singing (I use the term “singing” loosely) the same line of a shit West Ham song over and over again.

They were decent enough lads though, but I got the feeling they wouldn’t actually be in a state of consciousness to watch the game a little bit later.  They were absolutely blotto, and each of them was still supping from a bottle of Jägermeister, which they very kindly shared amongst those brave enough to have a swig on the coach.

A few reds and West Ham fans got chatting to them, and the banter was good on the coach.

We arrived in Cardiff at about 10.30am and headed straight to the City Arms.
Within an hour the outside of the pub was heaving and the (replica) European Cup was soon doing the rounds; people were having their photo taken with it and the portrait of Rafa which was being carried aloft by fans through the streets of Cardiff.  I managed to get my photo taken with both… Well made up!

For once, the mood was fairly relaxed on a beautifully warm day. We’d been to Cardiff a few times before, and as I said before it had been a good place for us.
We were still the European Champions (just!) and after the fight back in Istanbul little under a year before, this would surely be a doddle.  We’d also won at Upton Park just 3 weeks before the final, with Luis Garcia and Hayden Mullins receiving a red card for handbags late on.  The red card meant Luis Garcia would be suspended for the final.

“The Gerrard Final.”

A great footballer can bring out the best in the opposition as well as his own team. When the losing manager Alan Pardew could have been speechless with regret he was scrupulous in his praise of Steven Gerrard. With others extolling the Liverpool captain's 90th-minute equaliser, he also preached the excellence of the midfielder's technique when smashing home a bouncing ball for the first of his 2 goals.

There are very few players who strike a shot with such pristine power, but fuck me, could Gerrard crack a ball – The screamer against Olympiakos was prime example of that.

The 2006 FA Cup has quivered with the drama he creates, from the sweeping drive with which he opened the scoring at Luton in the third round to the penalty he smacked past Shaka Hislop in the shootout.

He is the only plausible explanation for West Ham's defeat, considering that they had arguably been the better team.  Pardew surely wishes he had assigned a marker to Gerrard in those closing moments of normal time because no other Liverpool player merited attention by then.

West Ham had been superb in many respects and Yossi Benayoun's display was astonishing. He never seemed to stop running over the course of the two hours and the sprightliness of thought was inextinguishable as well, I am sure that performance caught the eye of Benitez as Benayoun was wearing the red of Liverpool within 12 months.
This was an epic final partly because neither defence was resilient. The game twinkled with the glint of glass jaws.

Xabi Alonso, distracted by an injury he brought in to the game, had an indifferent day and passed straight to Benayoun in the 21st minute.
Dean Ashton, fit enough to last an hour, then released Lionel Scaloni down the right and Jamie Carragher could not avoid turning the cut-back into his own net.   
Hang on a minute, this was meant to be a piece of piss!!?

The fans around me seemed to stand still in disbelief that we could have fallen behind in a game that we knew we would win.  We expected to win.  We HAD to win…   Oh well, here we go again!!

Seven minutes later Matthew Etherington got inside the penalty box and fired a shot that Pepe Reina spilled.
Ashton, who had started the move, and was giving Hyypia a tough time by man-handling him and using all his weight and force to hold the ball up slipped the loose ball home – I stood with 30,000 other reds and watched as it went in in slow motion. 

0-2, this wasn’t in the script.  But despite being 0-2 down, there was a feeling that we could get back in to the game.  We’d been 3-0 down in Istanbul against AC Milan a year ago, so 2-0 against West Ham was going to be a piece of piss, right?   RIGHT????!!!!!!!

I got visions of “Veggard”, “Stig” and “Øyvind” (the 3 Norwegian fellas from the coach) dancing around at the other end of ground, whilst not actually having a clue as to what the fuck was going on, that's if they even managed to make it in to the ground of course!!

Despite that shock Liverpool responded with ominous alacrity.

Peter Crouch had a goal chalked off with an incorrect offside decision before Gerrard, after 32 minutes, piloted a long ball between an unconvincing Anton Ferdinand and Scaloni so that Djbril Cissé, could score with a sleek volley.   Get in!!!  Game on, we probably needed that goal before half-time to make West Ham a bit edgy!

West Ham's irrepressibility kept on being underrated and they would have lengthened their lead once more had Reina not stopped Marlon Harewood and then Benayoun from polishing off an Etherington cross in the 46th minute.

You might remember that it was the 54th minute in Istanbul was when Gerrard headed home to give Liverpool a glimmer of hope. 
The 54th minute rang up on the scoreboard in Cardiff, and just as it did, Crouch rose to nod-down an Alonso free-kick in to the path of an incoming Steven Gerrard who swept the ball home past Hislop in the West Ham goal to level the game at 2-2.  Fate?  We coldn’t give a shit, we were going mental!  Back from 2-0 down to 2-2 there would only be one winner now… 

There was a great reservoir of confidence to be drained from an entertaining West Ham team. Paul Konchesky (shudder!) was lucky to score with a mis-hit cross in the 64th minute, which just seemed to sum up just how we’d played since Gerrard had levelled things up.  On top of that, the drink was beginning to wear off a bit, and the hang-over was on the way!

With the introduction of Dietmar Hamann Liverpool at last got a measure of control of a midfield that, to Benítez's relief, stopped his leg-weary players from having to hare back so often to retrieve the ball.
Nonetheless it did look as if the afternoon would be remembered for all the Liverpool defensive errors until a clearing header dropped to Gerrard in the 90th minute…

Now it is his exquisite 30-yarder that will be immortal, hanging in the FA Cup's hall of fame forever beside images such as Jim Montgomery's save for Sunderland from Leeds United's Peter Lorimer in the 1973 final or Ricky Villa's second goal in Spurs' replay with Manchester City eight years later. 

But I fucking missed it!

No, I hadn’t left the stadium by then, but was busy craning my neck round to see how long the forth official had on his board.  It said 4 minutes.  The tannoy announcer was telling us it was 4 minutes when a half-cleared John Arne Riise punt fell to Gerrard fully 35 yards out (though the distance was being disputed long after the game – someone on the coach on the way home was adamant Gerrard was inside his own half!!) and all the skipper could do was have a lash at it.

There wasn’t time to take it down and try to find Fernando Morientes with a ball over the top, or to try to square it for a Riise pile-driver.  Gerrard had to crack it.  And crack it he did!   Dipping and swerving, the ball flew past Hislop, and time stood still.   Everyone around me erupted, my brother was virtually on top of me, and I had absolutely no idea what had just happened!!

3-3 in the cup final, hmmmm we’ve been here before!!

And yet Gerrard's majestic drive would have been meaningless had Reina not tipped the ball on to the post after Nigel Reo-Coker glanced a Benayoun free-kick in the 119th minute.  We were watching through our hands at this stage.
That was the glory of this final. It was endlessly absorbing, so open to discussion that it will never really be over in the minds of all those who watched and wondered - Though I'd be surprised if our friends from Norway would have remembered much of the game.   :hally

So after the drama of Istanbul just 12 months before, the full-time whistle sounded and the teams were locked at 3-3.  120 minutes of tension, defensive and goalkeeping errors, wonder goals and a Paul Konchesky mis-hit(!) came down to spot kicks.  Again!

Liverpool don’t do “easy” cup finals do they?

Reina redeemed himself in the shoot out and Gerrard lifted the Cup.   :champ

I left Cardiff absolutely elated, exhausted and the hang-over was well in force, but nothing a few cans on the coach home wouldn’t put right.

But spare a thought for the 3 Norwegians who must have left the Millennium Stadium still wondering just who had won that game.  I bet that was a long journey home and a defeat that even the Jägermeister wouldn’t numb.


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/TsApNfJ06eI?fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/TsApNfJ06eI?fs=1</a>
« Last Edit: December 3, 2013, 05:09:36 PM by ashleyrose-66 »
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Offline Hinesy

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2013, 11:58:55 PM »
I went bananas at Gerrard's last minute goal. And I listened over and over again to Alan Green's 5Live commentary on it. Lovely read, ta!
Yep.

Offline ashleyrose-66

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2013, 11:56:45 AM »
*Unashamed bump*

Took me an hour to write this you ungrateful bastards... ;)  ;D
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Offline kennedy81

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2013, 12:01:08 PM »
I just remember it being a mental match that we really should have lost. We didn't play well really and Stevie and Pepe saved us.

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2013, 12:10:32 PM »
Great read. I actually think given the circumstances that Gerrard's second is his greatest goal for us. Ridiculous technique to lash that in on the full from that distance. I thought we'd blown it and went crazy at that one (as we all did I know). His first was quite tasty too. Finished with real relish like a man in complete control of his surroundings.

Never did like that Konchesky fella. ;)

Offline No666

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2013, 12:29:53 PM »
Great read indeed. West Ham supporting mates of mine still won't discuss that day. They get this haunted look in their eyes.
 :)
Klopp on next year’s final being in Istanbul… I told UEFA already: we will be there! Give me a few minutes!

Offline fid1892

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2013, 01:14:39 PM »
Not a criticism by any means, as I love the write up .....

But the pedant in me insists that Arsenal also beat us in Cardiff - The 2002 Community Shield (I think Gilberto scored)

Keep them coming - excellent series, and Merry Christmas to all  :) ;D ::)

Offline Ycuzz

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2013, 01:45:52 PM »
Again, the calendar serves up the good stuff. Wonderful!

Thanks mate!


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Offline ashleyrose-66

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2013, 01:53:02 PM »
Not a criticism by any means, as I love the write up .....

But the pedant in me insists that Arsenal also beat us in Cardiff - The 2002 Community Shield (I think Gilberto scored)

Keep them coming - excellent series, and Merry Christmas to all  :) ;D ::)

You're right - I'd forgotten about that one!  Shows you are actually reading it, so thanks!! :)
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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2013, 01:55:48 PM »
Lovely read again
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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2013, 03:17:37 PM »
Gerrard absolutely phenomenal that day

Reina played his part but kind of got us in the mess to begin with

what a final it was.

think west ham had a free just after gerrard scored in the 90th minute, i was seriously shitting it for that. i remember i couldnt even watch. i heard a big cheer and thought "oh no" but it was for reina saving.

also remember that west ham bird after their first goal with her belly showing. she looked alright
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Offline sinnermichael

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2013, 03:30:27 PM »
I went bananas at Gerrard's last minute goal. And I listened over and over again to Alan Green's 5Live commentary on it. Lovely read, ta!

i have been trying to find a link to the 5 live commentary of that game for years and never found it.

the irony of this game is it was the worst we played in the entire cup run.

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2013, 05:10:59 PM »
Love it. Always reminds of thinking "oh no not again" with the feeling "oh yes we did it again"  :)
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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2013, 05:25:15 PM »
PFK. Urrrghhh...


Thing is, after Istanbul, I never felt the match was over until the final whistle.

Brought amazing self belief
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Offline moloch

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2013, 09:35:17 AM »
Thanks for the nice write-up. I was watching this in a pub near Euston station with some fellow reds. Needless to say the place went bonkers in the 90th minute. ;)

Offline rafa4eva

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2013, 09:53:55 PM »
Lol, well remembered, thanks.

I remember being in Riley's, with a small army which had started with myself having built up on the way in, by 1030. Drinking and watching every minute of the build up, what a day.

I remember the feeling that west gam def were up for it, so were competing against us well, but on a 50 50 to be honest, we def weren't at our best and west ham were close if not at their best. The mistakes for their goals also weren't forced, just weird goals which I didn't think we would normally let in. It was konchesky freak goal that summed it up, exasperating, frustrating yet the perfect platform for the game you describe, do comebacks always taste sweeter?

That cisse volley?and gerrards pass was a class finish and much needed, those gerrard goals were ridiculous, as you say range, power, touch... And that was just the reaction in Riley's as tables and pints were thrown around as instinct and the only way you can truly express that joy of belief erupting in your body, yup, the pure unadulterated complete 100% body spasm x everybody else watching with you.

Another completely bonkers game experienced, from under our conservative, rotating, increasingly disliked manager, happiness that gerrard had stayed, and how I hated that game to be honest no one should have to go through that twice on the trot !

Ps You sure those Norwegians weren't the ones who played for us in the past? :)

Pps forgot that we wacked brum 0 7 lol, have that fat head !,
beat the mancs and Chelsea in their pomp, on the way.. Blimey.

Thanks again for helping me remember.




« Last Edit: December 18, 2013, 10:04:57 PM by rafa4eva »

Offline CRAZY HORSE EMLYN

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2013, 10:18:56 PM »
Weird day for me that, was doing work for The Scottish Cup that year and had to be at Hampden… it was Gretna (mighty Gretna!) vs Hearts.
That game also went to extra time and pens, and I was going spare trying to get updates out of what must have been fairly primitive phone
internet at the time. Gretna came to within a whisker, just like the Hammers, of a famous victory.

Offline Dakota

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2013, 10:34:01 PM »
Thanks for the write-up, really brings home the sense that Liverpool is like a box of (Advent) chocolates... :lickin

Great read. I actually think given the circumstances that Gerrard's second is his greatest goal for us. Ridiculous technique to lash that in on the full from that distance. I thought we'd blown it and went crazy at that one (as we all did I know). His first was quite tasty too. Finished with real relish like a man in complete control of his surroundings.

I think he mentioned in his book that he just closed his eyes and kicked at hard as he could through cramping. There's this wonderful sense of frenzied desperation and anything-but-in-control that makes me worry it won't go in every time I re-watch, which of course makes it all the more special because it does go in, every time. :)
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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2013, 04:20:52 AM »
Great write up, Brings the memories flooding back. wonder if the 3 Norwegians were as pissed tonight.

Was in work for this and spent most of the game in my car listening to 5Live, nearly flipped the car over when the equaliser went in, have never been able to track down the commentary. Can't remember who was the commetator but he basically said it was the greatest goal ever scored in a cup final, he wasn't wrong!

 8)
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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2013, 08:31:10 AM »
Another completely bonkers game experienced, from under our conservative, rotating, increasingly disliked manager, happiness that gerrard had stayed, and how I hated that game to be honest no one should have to go through that twice on the trot !


? ? ? ? ? ?
yer ma should have called you Paolo Zico Gerry Socrates HELLRAZOR

Offline rafa4eva

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2013, 08:54:32 AM »
? ? ? ? ? ?

We were very much on fergies and moaners radar if not in their faces, rotating and zonal marking were up there with leeches sucking blood as a medical practice, Pilates and voodoo ... The press had started to realise this manager was not going to play ball with them.. That's what I meant by increasingly disliked, hope that clarifies :)

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2013, 09:24:58 AM »
We were very much on fergies and moaners radar if not in their faces, rotating and zonal marking were up there with leeches sucking blood as a medical practice, Pilates and voodoo ... The press had started to realise this manager was not going to play ball with them.. That's what I meant by increasingly disliked, hope that clarifies :)
emphatically! :)
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Offline bravoco

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2013, 10:04:53 AM »
Magic final, those were a dream couple of years. I remember thinking after the loss in Athens that it seemed reasonable in some ways to lose, given the unlikely triumphs we'd experienced in 2005 and 2006.

I also assumed that the golden days would carry on indefinitely and that Rafa would lead us to more and more of the same. A couple of useless owners put paid to that.

Nice to be back on the way up now and great to relive some of those good times.

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #23 on: December 25, 2013, 12:03:45 AM »
Bump for Christmas
Yep.

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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #24 on: December 25, 2013, 05:53:06 AM »
I remember sitting back, feeling defeated by a spirited West Ham side who didn't care who we were, ready to applaud them for a well deserved win.

Then that fella Gerrard hit that shot from outside the box. Strange enough I didn't expect it to be anything than a desperation shot as the clock ticked down.

The whole place erupted.

I could hardly breathe as we all went "YESSSSSSS!!". Strangers sitting at separate tables who didn't know each other suddenly looked at each other and pumped fists to one another, the joy and delight in each other's faces.

I don't care what andy@allerton thinks - Gerrard is up there in the pantheon of Liverpool gods.

To add, this match was probably the shining beacon of the old cup tournament that has been beset with big clubs steam rolling the ones who were just happy to be there, a throwback to the era when smaller clubs couldn't give a toss about what position you are in England.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2013, 05:57:01 AM by Ken-Obeard »
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Re: RAWK Advent Calendar #17. The FA Cup Final, 2006
« Reply #25 on: December 25, 2013, 07:40:24 PM »
Crows attacked a pensioner in Hamburg after she mimicked a crow's call.
You claim a Wagon Wheel is a biscuit and you have the audacity to stick a Kit Kat in goal? You sir are a du