In their thousands they waited, but after nine long years what was another few minutes on the red and white streets of Islington?

"This is where I was in 2005," Sarah said, the 52-year-old lifelong Arsenal fan standing in the shade off Highbury Station Road. "We will get a good view from here."

It was not long, though, before that clear line of sight to Highbury Corner was obscured by more ranks of supporters, many of whom probably had not had much thought for sleep since Saturday's FA Cup final triumph, secured with an extra-time goal from midfielder Aaron Ramsey to beat Hull City 3-2 and end almost a decade without silverware.

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Mike, 32, had brought along his two sons, Jonas and Kyle, neither of whom were born when Patrick Vieira lifted the 2005 FA Cup in Cardiff.

"When will the bus come, dad?" they asked, both balanced somewhat precariously on a combination of Mike's shoulders and a nearby concrete bollard.

"You will know boys, don't worry," he said. And he was right. Moments later, club mascot Gunnersaurus was spotted through the trees and the decibel levels drowned out the overhead TV helicopters. Then, finally, the two red open-top buses came into view - German defender Per Mertesacker playing up to his role as crowd favourite with the famous trophy aloft, before passing it along.

"I will remember this for the rest of my life," Kyle, seven, told his dad as they waved their heroes down Upper Street on to a reception with the mayor at Islington Town Hall. "Let's just hope you don't have to wait as long as I did for another one," Mike replied as the crowds slowly dispersed.

At Highbury, after the team's return sparked a ticker-tape explosion, the final words were, perhaps fittingly, left to Arsene Wenger, due to formally announce his contract extension in the coming days.

"We would like to thank our fans really deeply, we realise how much they love our club and we are grateful for that," said the Arsenal manager. "Our players are great, but our fans are even better."

And, for this long overdue moment in the sun, few could argue.