EXCLUSIVE: Charlie Nicholas recalls Arsenal Wembley glory

It is hard to believe but this very day 25 years ago I did something I have never done before. I broke my wrist. But more significant than that I watched Arsenal win a League Cup for the first time since I started supporting the Gunners all those years ago.

The two facts are connected. Head over heels with joy I decided to slide down the middle portion of the escalators at Victoria Station and came off worse with an unhelpful protuberance that demanded: “Please stand on the right.”

Our League Cup final win over Liverpool at the old Wembley was the first time we had been to the Twin Towers since the 1980 FA Cup final defeat to West Ham (broken heart, no bones, though) and we had to beat a side enjoying rather more success then with a certain Kenny Dalglish at the helm than they are doing now.

We also had to overcome the Ian Rush factor. Ian Rush scored goals for fun and Liverpool had never lost a match in which he had found the back of the net. It was a daunting task for George Graham and our boys. And you guessed it, the Anfield side took the lead through, er, Ian Rush.

But the day was made for our very own talisman, a certain Scot by the name of Charlie Nicholas who had signed from Celtic by Terry Neill back in 1983 for £800.000 and who’d not totally lived up to the billing, some would argue.

But all that would change. He equalised, turning in a cross in a crowded penalty area. Then Champagne Charlie grabbed the winner in the second half when his shot deflected off Ronnie Whelan and was diverted past Bruce Grobelaar.

In an exclusive interview with Arsenalinsider, Charlie, now a Sky pundit who retains support for the Arsenal (if you don’t believe me see here), says the victory was the most memorable and significant game of his spell in north London.

He said: “We had a feeling in the dressing room that it was just going to be our day after the way we beat Tottenham over three games in the semi-final. But then when Rushy scored of course doubt started to enter our minds. We knew that Liverpool had never lost a match that he had scored in so we had to settle and get on with the game.

“You’ve got to remember that I was used to winning trophies with Celtic, one or two a season sometimes. But with Arsenal it was different and we knew we had a great chance to give the supporters what they wanted.

“I was in the right place at the right time for my goals. I hit Viv Anderson’s shot back in after it had hit a post and then my shot for the second came off Ronnie Whelan right near the end. And we managed to win and collect the club’s first trophy for eight years. As you can imagine, we enjoyed a decent party and a few beers afterwards!”

As did I, Charlie. Did I mention I broke my wrist?

CARL ELDRIDGE – Follow me on Twitter @eldomedia


Arsenal fan for 40 years. Schoolboys, North Bank, Clock End then East Upper. Then Emirates. AFC dream team: Wilson, Dixon, Sansom, Adams, Pates, Brady, Williams, Pires, Bergkamp, Henry, Wright. Subs: Seaman, Eldridge, Wilshere, RVP, Ball. Manager: Arsene Chapman.