Memories of the Arsenal
Blogs come in many shapes and sizes. Well actually, they come in about one flat, screen-shaped size, but pardon the lazy phrase use. There are the match reporty blogs and the previewy blogs, the ranty blogs and the gloaty blogs. There are the jokey imaginary scenario blogs and the ponderous theoretical blogs. There are lots and lots of blogs.
In recent days we’ve lacked the gloat and suffered an abundance of the rant. Rightly so really, not many things have been going right. In as much as the Reading game was fun and totally weird, I wouldn’t say it was a season highlight thus far. Perhaps our last season highlight this season was beating Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield.
Then suddenly our attack sucked, Santi the Saint was not much use on the field because teams had ‘worked us out’ and he was rendered mostly useless. Then Koscielny and Vermaelen were about the worst defensive duo to have ever happened, ever. Then our goalkeeper was made of Crunchie and our midfield was in bits, and finally our manager was wrecking his legacy by continuing as manager.
And all this while the fish and chips meal at the stadium was an absolute bump. No wonder we’ve all been so miserable lately. It’s at times like these you need to look back and remember why you bother putting yourself in a lot of harm’s way when it would be so much easier to just say ta-ra to the whole bloody mess of it.
Arsenal v Newcastle, 1998
The first match I remember. I actually don’t remember it at all, but I do remember quizzing my mum on whether a Newcastle win would mean THEY’D win the Double instead of us. I had white cycling shorts on and a red top and we had red and white balloons pinned up to the front windows. It was World Cup year and I took my glass Coca Cola bottle home from our celebratory Pizza Express as it had a gold World Cup trophy on the front of it and it doubled as my FA Cup. We won the actual thing as well of course. Boys were stood on every corner on our way home just waiting for a car to go by so they could sing jubilantly at it. FA Cup final day. It was a good day. Welcome to Arsenal.
Arsenal v Charlton, 2000
My first match at Highbury. Before that day I’d started to think we didn’t have that many fans. I changed my mind after that. We sat in the West Stand Upper (la di da) and Patrick Vieira scored two goals in a 5-3 win. How crap did the internet used to look? I noted that the stadium were selling bagels, Wiltord sat all the way opposite us behind the big Nike tick in the East Stand wearing a white shirt before playing his first game for us, then I saw Lauren outside the stadium and he nearly stood in horse poo.
Arsenal v Manchester United, 2001
I went with my dad, his business partner and his son. We did a little tour of the stadium beforehand and ate dodgy burgers from the dodgy burger van. We saw Bob Wilson looking out the window of the Marble Halls and then froze to death in the North Bank. Fabien Barthez did a whoopsie and we won 3-1.
Arsenal v Chelsea 2002
Another FA Cup Final day. Ray Parlour scored and Lee Dixon celebrated. They showed us the new O2 kits in the pre-amble. I thought they were vile. Looking back at that kit, the only person I can remember in it is Thierry Henry. This softens the blow somewhat. After we’d lost the previous year’s one to Liverpool and a Michael Owen goal and I’d gone out into my garden and attached a picture of Michael Owen’s face to a basketball and bounced it off the wall, this felt like a very good victory. Also Chelsea were much less relevant and Russian back then.
This was also the season in which we celebrated the league in beautiful Dreamcast shirts, Elvis wigs and specs. It was the year of the Nike advert.
Arsenal v Inter Milan 2003
We lost 0-3 and people started to walk out – not such a new thing after all. Dr Fox made a joke on Capital about Arsenal’s new sponsor being O3. We all know what happened in the away ‘leg’ of that group stage. Hahaha. I’ve visited that link so many times.
Arsenal v Rotherham 2003
“Seeeeedgwiiiiiick” became a chant for some reason, I forget why. Maybe he was annoying in that match. Francesc’s debut and a crazy penalty shoot-out ending 9-8. My sister and I had strawberry straws from the two-bags-for-£1 man outside the stadium.
Tottenham v Arsenal 2004
Arsenal v Ajax 2005
An appalling match in miserable December rain. In fact until I checked the Arsenal website I thought it’d been against Sparta Prague. My granddad died round the corner a few hours after the final whistle. We drove past the stadium on the way to his funeral.
Villarreal v Arsenal 2006
We got to the final of the Champions League. Jens was a hero and I had a video on my phone of my dad dancing and singing along to the Sky Sports News theme as the yellow breaking news bar announced our place in the final. I decided I wanted to study Broadcast Journalism in this year. My head of year told me there were going to be 100 hundred girls better and prettier than me upon graduation and that it was a pointless degree. So I didn’t do it. The fact I am not presenting Match of the Day at this very moment of time is entirely down to that woman.
Barcelona v Arsenal 2006
We went to Paris. I was supposed to be at school. My history teacher was there too. We sat behind the big double winners’ banner from 1971. My mum and I missed Sol’s goal. Barca fans gloated they were getting Thierry. I had cried the day before in school when my history teacher had joked that the reason we’d got to the final was because of my granddad rejigging the stars to make it so. Close but no cigar G-Dad.
Birmingham v Arsenal 2008
I was working in a bar having quit university (wouldn’t have quit had I been doing Broadcast Journalism JUST SAYING) Eduardo got maimed and Gallas threw a wobbly. It was the beginning of the end of the 2007-2008 season. We beat Milan two weeks later in Italy. Cesc’s goal celebration still makes people cry now.
Arsenal v Blackburn 2009
The return of Thierry (ish). 0-1 down, 6-2 up. Nzonzi scored in about the third minute and Vermaelen equalised before Dunn put them 1-2 up. Not for long though, as van Persie soon equalised again. Oh well.
Portsmouth v Arsenal 2009
We beatPortsmouth 1-4 and my family and I were on a plane to New York. My dad was tense the entire flight, unable to check the score. It was like a really long Tube journey. With food. ‘Food’.
In 2010 I started this blog. When I’m lacking memories of matches now (I don’t have a football brain at all), I can whiz back and have a gander at this blog, like a diary. I’ve never managed to keep an actual diary, but I’ve somehow kept up this one, even though writing about them can sometimes be a hell of a lot more depressing than my actual life. Big moments in life are intrinsically linked with what Arsenal has been up to at that same moment. I think of time periods in my life as PT, DT, and AT. Pre-Thierry, During Thierry, and After Thierry. My entire Arsenal life has been DA, During Arsene. His teams made me love Arsenal. I know it’s blasphemous to say that kind of thing, no man bigger than the badge bla bla bla-bla-bla, but a life Post-Arsene, even if it turns out to be full of trophy, will be a life that takes some getting used to.
Anyway, sorry for the big long ramble. I hope the mood picks up soon, and obviously that will only come after some decent performances. It would be simply charming if that could happen commencing Saturday, thanks lads. If you need me, I’ll be off nursing the re-openedscabs of my broadcast journalism dream being shattered.