Pat Rice Special: Arsenal's '5-Minute Final' Against Manchester United

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Pat Rice Special: Arsenal's '5-Minute Final' Against Manchester United

Almost every Arsenal fan worth his salt will have, at some point, heard about the "Five Minute Final."

It refers to the 1979 FA Cup final between Arsenal and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium. (Watch the match highlights here.)

Arsenal took an early lead in the 12th minute via a Brian Talbot goal after a great cut-back by David Price. The Gunners doubled their lead in the 43rd minute, when Frank Stapleton nodded it in at the far post after a great run and cross from the exceptional Liam Brady.

The score was 2-0 at halftime.

The game then meandered its way through a quite unremarkable second half, until it quite literally sprang to life in the 86th minute. Gordon McQueen reduced the margin for Manchester United, scoring from a set-piece situation. And then, just two minutes later, Sammy McIlroy waltzed through the Arsenal rearguard to make it 2-2.

Extra time, surely.

But Brady wasn't interested in playing an extra 30 minutes. With a minute remaining on the clock, he made a run down the left and played a little ball out to Graham Rix, who crossed to the far post, where a sliding Alan Sunderland was on hand to bundle home the winner.

3-2 it finished, and Arsenal had their hands on the silverware. After no less than an eight-year wait. And look at us whingeing about our present seven-year itch! Sorry, shouldn't have brought that up.

Does Pat Rice qualify for "Arsenal Legend" status in a league with Herbert Chapman, Arsene Wenger, Don Howe and Tony Adams?

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Pat Rice, also a part of the 1970-71 double-winning Arsenal squad, proudly led his team up the historic 39 steps at the old Wembley to receive the FA Cup from a then very young and shockingly handsome Prince Charles!

Yes, handsome. I kid thee not.

Pat Rice now bids adieu to Arsenal after 44 long years of service to the club. A true legend in every sense. And his duration of employment at Arsenal as player and coach can be put into perspective when you consider that Arsenal's starting XI against Norwich had a combined 47 years at Arsenal between them

Arsene Wenger said it best, with his tribute for his long-serving assistant:

It is very sad for me, because when you work with a  guy like Pat for 16 years, it is a very difficult separation. I would say it is a privilege for me to meet a guy like Pat, not only for his competence but as well for his honesty, his discretion—which is not always easy in this job—and for his confidential attitude, and for his tremendous support. 

Big words from the great man, and well deserved indeed.

Thanks for all the years, Pat. We'll miss your presence, your passion, your dedication and, of course, your shorts!

 

Follow me on Twitter @ratanpostwalla

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