I was in New York doing the Alan Bennett play The History Boys during the 2006 FA Cup final. There’s a great English food shop in the West Village, so I went out that morning and bought sausages, eggs and butcher’s cut bacon, and all the boys in the play came round to my apartment to watch the game.
They’re all big football fans and one of them — my mate Andy — is even a West Ham fan, so everyone wanted us to win. To be honest, I think everyone apart from Liverpool fans wanted us to win that game.
As a West Ham fan, you know it’s never going to be plain sailing — there’s a reason we sing “Fortune’s always hiding” in I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles. So even when we went 2-0 up, I wasn’t getting cocky. I just felt proud because lots of our team — Anton Ferdinand, Bobby Zamora, Nigel Reo-Coker — were playing in the Championship the season before, and to see them in an FA Cup final representing themselves so well was just brilliant. It was a back-and-forth game but then, at 3-2 to us, Steven Gerrard scored a wonder goal to take it to extra time [pictured], and we ended up losing on penalties.
I’m not going to lie, my mind was elsewhere during our performance that night. But although I was upset we lost, the overwhelming feeling was of pride despite the defeat. It didn’t even feel like Liverpool beat us — it felt like Steven Gerrard did. I read his book and he said that if he hadn’t been so tired, he’d have played the ball out wide, but because he was knackered he just put his foot through it. I’ve met him a couple of times and I like him very much, but I’ve never spoken to him about that game. I’m not going to thank him for ruining what could have been the greatest day in the history of my club! But I can appreciate a good goal, and my God, that was a good goal.
What I love about that game is that there’s been a mutual respect between West Ham and Liverpool fans ever since, because we were part of one of the best FA Cup finals ever. And who knows, we might end up in another one soon — that’s the beauty of the competition. But I’m quite enjoying the Championship at the moment. I saw Kevin Nolan at Glastonbury this year, and I went up to him and said, “You’ve changed everything for West Ham fans by signing for us.” I think he was a bit bemused, but I really meant it. We’ve had a sh*t year and haven’t even had a real manager — just a bloke who can spell ‘football’ [Avram Grant].
Things are looking up now. I had to sit down with my missus recently and tell her that it’s my intention to go to every match when we move to the Olympic Stadium. It didn’t go down brilliantly, but I think she understands.
May I Have Your Attention, Please? by James Corden is out now, published by Century in hardback, priced £18.99