FA Cup Final 2000
Pictures from the Olympic Gallery

At a work Christmas party, Graham won tickets to the 2000 FA Cup Final.  The seats were at the front of the Olympic Gallery and there was also refreshments in a private box, hosted by a corporate supplier.

This was the last Final to take place at Wembley stadium before it was dismantled to make for a new and improved stadium for the 21st Century.  Up to the semi-finals, it looked like it could have been a final between Newcastle United and Bolton Wanderers, which would have had more emotional resonance for me at least because my father went to the 1953 Cup Final when Bolton Wanderers played.  In the end though, it was their opponents that won through - Aston Villa and Chelsea.

These pictures are taken from our seats.

A general view from the seat, with the twin towers
The two teams emerge from the famous tunnel
The massed bands play
The first cup final played at Wembley was in 1923.  The balloons for Chelsea were in the big container marked 1923.  The line of children each carried the name of the winner of the 77 winners of the Cup during its time at Wembley.
The officials and the captains lead the players out from the famous tunnel at the end of the ground.
The massed bands of various Army and Marine regiments were lined up waiting to play the National Anthem as the teams walked on.  The balloons for Aston Villa were in the container marked 2000, the last year at the existing stadium. 
The balloons go up
Players presented, anthem sung, the balloons are released and all the decoration is removed as the band marches off double time.  The balloons looked similar colours, being very blue.  However, on the left, blue was mixed with white for Chelsea and, on the right, with claret for Aston Villa.
The final ceremony is tossing the coin in the centre of the field.  Then it's time to play football.
The coin toss

The final result was Chelsea 1, Aston Villa 0.
If you want a full report, try this link to the victors' web-site and select the link you find there to the 2000 FA Cup Victory report: www.chelseafc.co.uk/chelsea/fr_history.htm or this to the losers' web-site: www.astonvilla-fc.co.uk/99_00/reports/astche99fa.shtml.