Pompey keeper still haunted after he was barred from the Champagne celebrations
A triumphant David James rejoiced on the Wembley turf '“ then found himself barred from the Pompey party.
A triumphant David James rejoiced on the Wembley turf – then found himself barred from the Pompey party.
It was 10 years ago on Thursday when the Blues claimed the FA Cup, yet scouring photographs capturing those boisterous changing-room celebrations, there is a glaring absence.
Notably, the veteran goalkeeper, who had just secured the second, and what would prove to be final, trophy of a distinguished playing career.
For James had been marched away from those joyous scenes, instead ushered into a room and instructed to perform a routine post-match drug test.
By the time he returned, the festivities were over, his Cup-winning colleagues departed, an almost empty dressing room greeted him.
It’s an underwhelming finale to a glorious occasion which still haunts.
James said: ‘After collecting the trophy, I was looking for my partner.
‘For some reason I didn’t know where my ticket allocation were situated. I looked up into the corner but couldn’t see anyone.
‘So I borrowed the kitman’s phone to ring my partner and they were on the other side of the pitch, so she ran down in front of the stands.
‘After that, I didn’t even get into the changing room. I went straight down the tunnel and was escorted to the doping room.
‘I said to them: “Can’t you just follow me into the changing rooms so I can join the lads?”
‘The answer was no, so off I went for a drug test, with Aaron Ramsey, I think, already in there.
‘So I missed out on all the Champagne celebrations and photographs afterwards.
‘In fact, by the time I got into the changing room, there was Champagne dripping from the ceiling. I think Kev the kitman was there, while one lad was in the shower. Everybody else had gone.
‘I managed to see the celebrations in the newspaper the following day.
‘It was actually upsetting. The thing about it was, there’s the bit on the pitch with the fans, which is great, but you want to go into the changing room with the lads afterwards and have a bit of a knees up.
‘I missed all that. It was a bit of a damp squib in the end.
‘Straight afterwards is the one bit where you get to be with your team-mates.
‘Sure, I went back to the hotel in Windsor, but I think most of the team went straight into London.
‘Between the final whistle and pitch celebrations, the next time I was properly with the team was the following day when we went around Southsea Common!’
Impressively, James maintained five clean sheets during that 2008 FA Cup success.
There was even a penalty save at Preston from Simon Whalley during a man-of-the-match display from the England stopper.
Chris Clark would be the sole player to breach the Blues’ rearguard during that run, in a fourth-round 2-1 defeat for visiting Plymouth at Fratton Park.
Yet one defensive performance towers above all others during that Cup progress – Manchester United.
James added: ‘Winning the Cup itself was magnificent, but having to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford made it even more valuable.
‘The other opposition we faced along the way were from the Championship. We also beat the best team in the country on their turf. I remember the United team as much as the victory itself and the trophy at Wembley.
‘When it was read out by Harry we were surprised, shocked even, that it was a full-strength side.
‘It was a case of: “Okay, it can’t get worse than that”.
‘I look back at that game and the funny thing about winning the trophy is that that Old Trafford match has more memories than the actual game against Cardiff, despite both finishing 1-0 to us.
‘Sylvain Distin cleared Michael Carrick’s shot off the line, Patrice Evra hit the post, everything happened in that game bar them scoring.
‘And without that victory, obviously we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to Wembley.
‘As much as we celebrated winning the FA Cup, the Manchester United game was the major reason for actually getting a trophy in the end.’