Posts tagged: Arsenal
So, after several weeks of speculation, he has finally gone to Spain. I would be lying if I said I was not gutted. I am extremely so. However, in a way I am glad he has gone. Over on the regular blogs I read, ArseBlog, East Lower and The Cannon. They have been doing an excellent job covering the rumour of the move, up to the breaking of the news confirmed late on Friday evening. While somewhat biased as Arsenal fans, they give a balanced view in terms of the great Frenchman’s depature. He was easily the greatest player to ever play for Arsenal and in the modern era, his goal scoring record will perhaps stand the test of time and remain a true testament to his achievements at the North London club. However, no one is bigger than the club and I find some of his phrases in his open letter to The Sun quite disrespectful. The whole business of David Dein being a big blow and the uncertainty of Arsene Wenger’s future is a smoke screen. He wanted to go to Barcelona for a new challenge, after our challenge for honours crashed and burned in early Spring. I wish he could be honest and just say this to the fans that adored him and to a certain extent worshipped him. £16 million is good business in the end and no one can deny that he is no longer at the peak of his powers. Last season proved that, with him spending far too much time on the sidelines. There is also the fact, that even though we have built him up as Superman, it would be painful to watch his slow decline over the coming few years. Having said that, I feel honoured to have been able to see him play at Ashburton Grove, particularly when you consider last summer, we had the same story being speculated by the tabloids. I recall the press conference very well, Dein made the comment, “Thierry has something to say to you all…” with a big grin on his face. His last ever contract apparently! I suppose I was stupid to believe that a footballer would honour his loyalty to the club. Funny how things have changed in less than twelve months. I make no excuse that the team has a whole under performed last season and the squad needs some serious surgery (even before the TH14 departure) and I have every faith that Arsene will make those shrude buys and produce more talent. I think many people have forgotten that it was the Frenchman who brought Henry in from the wilderness of Juventus, Italy and converted him from a winger to a deadly striker! There is little to be said that has not been said already. No one player is bigger than the club and we must learn to move on. The Thierry Henry chapter, as wonderful and glorious as it has been for the past eight years is now well and truly over. We must look to our future and the season ahead. I take great comfort from one aspect of what history has shown us. No ex-Arsenal player has ever really achieved much having left the club. Look at Overmars and Petit who went the same way. The plus point is the great youth system and the young kids coming through the ranks. We just need to bolster the squad with some experienced heads and then take it from there. The final word goes to Daniel, the Master & Apprentice head their separate ways.
A dull, grey wet Sunday afternoon. A complete contrast to the weather yesterday. There was a slight nip in the air but with clear blue skies and the sun in the sky, I was looking forward to the afternoon game. I left home just after quarter to 11am. I wanted to catch the 11:04 service to Marylebone. I parked and walked to the Fast Ticket booth but this was going to be anything but fast. A family of three Eastern Europeans were trying to work out how to purchase a ticket. A railway worker came up to me and said he would get me a ticket and took me through to the Station Manager and he printed off a cheap day return for me, but I still had to get a parking ticket. I was in a minor dilemma. I had a £5 note and only £2 in coins. The parking over the weekend is £2.50, typical I was 50p short. The train would leave platform one in a few minutes. I did not have time to wait around. The parking attendant let me off the 50 pence and asked that I return the money to the booth at the end of the day. Chiltern Railways do have some good members of staff and I did take the time to thank them before running onto the train. As it would pan out, the train was delayed by a few minutes, letting an earlier London pass through via platform three. The journey down was uneventful, until we got to Wembley, by then my Zen had crashed. I had been skipping through tracks and it crashed. I needed to carry out a soft reset but I needed a paperclip or pin. That was to be my mission when I got to Paddington. Andy had text me and would meet me just after midday at Paddington This gave me some to find a stationary shop that sold paperclips. I did eventually find a WHSmith outlet that went beyond newspapers, magazines and crisps. Then just as I was paying, Andy called me. I called him back and eventually we met up at the barrier for the underground station. We were on our way to North London. I had seen mainly Reading fans all morning, some had stopped me and asked for directions. We got to Finsbury Park just after 1pm and headed for the Twelve Pins for a drink. It was eighteen minutes into the Liverpool – Manchester United game but still goalless. The pub was packed and at half time we headed towards the ground. First stop was Highbury, or rather what remains of the stadium as it slowly becomes luxury apartments.
We walked around to the Grove and Andy got to see the stadium for the first time. It was getting busy with a build up of crowds. Andy called his mates, they were in a pub but he wanted to get in and take a look inside. We said goodbye and thought we might meet up after the game. I had some food, watched some of the ManYoo game (it was still goal less) but headed up to my seat early. Thirty odd minutes before kick-off. It was nice to actually watch the players train and not be involved in the a mad dash down to the stadium. I could sit back and take it easy for a change. There was a school kid behind me, must have been aged around 12. He was on the phone for the majority of the game, updating his friend on every minor slice of action. One word. Annoying. Anyways, I put up with that and enjoyed the game, and hang on for the final whistle. Perhaps the most balanced match report is from The Guardian.
Do you remember a time before polyphonic ring tones? Before the Crazy Frog? It was the late nineties (it wasn’t as late as 2001, was it?) and having a mobile phone was the lastest fashion accessory. MTV were quick to jump on the bandwagon. For some strange reason I recalled it on the way home and only bothered to check it on You Tube this afternoon. Fantastic. I love the whole dance routine and the friend, “Kanyo call me on my mobile!”. Classic. Did not know that MTV released an actual song and music video on the back of the success of this spot. You can watch that (inferior version, in my humble opinion) here.
The dilemma now though, what would be more annoying as a ring tone? The above or the Pearl & Dean music? It does not really apply to me, I always keep my phone sent to silent, which sort of defeats the object of having a ringtone in the first place.
I got my mobile phone out of my jean pocket, it was 18:29 precisely. I had arrived a minute ahead of schedule. Perfect. Now I just had to wait for Terry. I was outside Finsbury Park tube station. It was the first Tuesday of 2007. I was about to head to a football game. Considering all the things that had happened, I felt good. I suppose, I should rewind and head back to my first day back in the office. Nothing like an easy day, to ease you back into the motions. The phone lines were dead. The calm before the storm perhaps but I think many people have taken an extended break and are not back in work until 8th March. Coming in early and leaving at 4.30pm perhaps helped, just a little as well.
I had borrowed my sister’s Creative Zen V+ to give it a proper road (or rather more accurately tube) test. I had forgotten how great MJ sounds on ear phones. I was tapping along to Beat It, Smooth Criminal and the other tracks I had transferred across on Monday. Never before have I been able to escape in such away into the music and let the journey on the tube just drift into the background. For a brief moment, I wanted to break into an attempt at the moonwalk, but it was not appropriate and I already had the electric eyes all over me and did not need any further unnecessary attention.
The first game of 2007 was against Charlton, now under the stewardship of Alan Pardew. I had a feeling, when I booked my tickets over a month ago that Henry would come off the bench and score some goals. I was not too far off the mark. Instead of being on the bench, he started. Woo hoo! I was with Terry, he arrived a few minutes after I got to the station but we had to wait a good fifteen minutes for Henry. (No, not that Henry but Terry’s work colleague). While we waited I bought two programmes, one for my work colleague and fellow Gooner Paul in the office. Terry was in one of his grumpy moods, where is is all pessimistic.”You going to read the propaganda from the ‘tain then? I refuse to read that BS”. He does make me laugh. The Sheffield united defeat had got to him, but then every single defeat gets to him more than any other fan I know. I prefer to always remain positive, to look on the bright side. Defeat is not an easy pill to swallow but you know that the next 90 minutes is just around the corner. Redemption is never far away.
After grabbing a bite to eat and a drink of over priced mineral water, I headed to my seat. Shaking hands with both Terry and Henry, in what has become a pre-match tradition. I went up to my seat, which was right at the end of a row, which is both a blessing and a curse. Great view, but I have come to expect that now and quite a full house. I was looking forward to the game as the players came out. The atmosphere was good but once again one of the many golden rules were broken. Before we even scored our fourth, final decisive goal many people were walking out of the ground. That is just stupid. I would never dream to leave a game before the final whistle blows and can speak from bitter experience. Which I may bring up some time in the future. I can understand people have a long journey home but if you pay quite a bit of your hard earned cash for ticket, I expect my full monies worth. A great game to watch, you could see Thierry was in the mood and he was nowhere near match fit. Perhaps the most kind of gesture was him passing the ball to Robin for the second penalty. Some of the taunting of Pardew was derogatory but you could not say he did not deserve it.
I wanted to watch it tonight, I tried, honestly I did. However, my television tuner is off. What am I talking about? Celebrity Big Brother? Why would I watch this poor excuse for reality television? My record with this “genre” of television programme has perhaps been poor in recent years. For me, it started with ITV’s The Popstars back in 2001, then the following year with Popstars: The Rivals but since then I’ve rarely watched beyond the auditions of the Pop Idol series and this year’s X-Factor I gave up before the live shows started. A colleague at work, avoids them at all costs and personally I have never really watched BB (celebrity or nobody flavour). Although in my house it is unavoidable, as you will usually find one of my elder sisters tuned into the live feed on E4. This year I wanted to to at least watch the show on standard Channel 4 and perhaps catch the odd show on E4. I will not be watching and I will explain why. I read on BBC News that Bollywood actress, Shilpa Shetty would be taking part (for a cool £450,000, which at current exchange rates is 38,838,499.58 Indian rupees. They use a strange numbering system but she hardly needs the cash, being a chorepatni herself). Well that was the draw. Strange I know for me, someone who despises contemporary Bollywood cinema and longs for the action era of the 1980s. However, how could I not want to watch the stunning 32 year old (and single, apparently) actress on the show. Well, the she walked in and she opened her mouth. That was it. One of the few things that makes my blood boil, is Indians speaking English. I just find the accent so annoying. Now let me put this into context, I am sure I have already stated on this blog, several times that I think Hindi is the most romantic language in the world when sung and perhaps second only to French when spoken. However Indians speaking English just does not work. They try, I give them that, but to me it does not sound right.
Okay rant over. Trying to book Le Mans for the summer but it hardly looks like the cheapest holiday for a petrol head. We may also be going down of to a group of two instead of four which would be a shame but is fully understandable. You never know, Teg might be able to drill it down to a little better value.
December already? The year is almost out but my weekends keep coming thick and fast. A great weekend, a wonderful weekend from all angles. I will begin with Saturday morning. I was being far to optimistic when I thought I could get up and be ready to catch the 8.20am train from the station. I just enjoyed my sleep far too much, even though I am used to getting up relatively early on weekend mornings. After quickly having some breakfast while watching music television, I got ready. Thankfully late on Friday night I had got everything ready on my desk, so after a shower I was ready to go. I decided to wear my redcurrant shirt instead of my red home jersey, just to make a change. I was out of the door quarter to 9am, which was not too bad. Drove to the station, with very little traffic on the roads on this wet dull winter morning. I parked up and was able to catch the 9.02 service from platform one which would arrive at Marylebone within fifty minutes. I took a seat and plugged myself into my portable radio. I was tempted to tune into Radio Five Live but opted for the Weekend Wakeup breakfast show with Fearne & Reggie. Particularly as Mr. Yates is a diehard Arsenal fan and mentioned he would be off to the game straight after the show. It was great to have the company of some music to settle the nerves. I felt different feeling going to the match today. Not only because it was my first North London Derby but because of the strange position Arsenal find themselves in the Premiership table and so many points off the pace. Call it a cloud of doubt but I was not sure if Arsenal would get a result. Defeat was unthinkable, third in a row as Martin Jol said during a quick news bite on Newsbeat. So much hung in the balance, but I decided not to think about if for now. I let the music take over and drifted into a slight daydream.
Having arranged with Terry to meet up at Finsbury Park tube staiton at 11am, I was nearly an hour early, so I got off at one stop early at Arsenal tube station and headed to the Armoury. I wanted to buy some Arsenal gloves. The store was packed with early comers wishing to pick up some merchandise. There were only dark blue gloves with a gold cannon emblem on them, but I wanted either red or black with a red Arsenal crest of some description. I went to ask one of the sales assistances. There seemed to be plenty of them just standing around doing nothing. He did not seem that bothered and just gave the standard explanation that if there were none out there, there were none in stock. Great. I was tempted to look around and buy a top. A top that I could wear casually when going out, that was not ‘in your face’ Arsenal FC. Something with the club slogan, Victory Through Harmony, but to my disappointment, there was nothing there that I liked and nothing with those arrousing words. I headed out and walked the full way around the stadium, knowing I would have to meet up with Terry soon. I took some photographs before headed back across the south bridge, down St. Thomas Road to the tube station. This was not an easy jounery as I was travelling against the flow of all the fans. As I waited outside the Arsenal World of Sport shop, I text Terry to let him know I was there and waiting. I waited. Then I waited some more. I tried to call him but it went straight to voicemail. I was going to give him until 11.30am, then make a move. I decided to give him a few more minutes and then he appeared. Finally, we then had to wait a few more minutes for his friend who was on his way. Now this is going to sound as if I am making it all up but it is true. Terry’s friend is called Henry. So here I was going to an Arsenal match with Terry (and) Henry. Their combined namesake was injured so would not be making an appearance this lunchtime.
We headed down to the ground, to get a drink and some food before the game. As we were at different ends of the stadium, we met up by block 110, which is about half way around for both us and an ideal meeting point. Terry got the drinks in and I bought a vegetable pie, I was hungry. We enjoyed some good banter before saying out goodbyes and headed out to our seats. I usually get to my seat as quickly as I can but I was cutting it quite fine before the kickoff. As I headed back around to block 124, I went out to see most of the south bank full. I headed up to the row 22 and found my seat 910, which was directly in the middle, perfectly behind the goal. The atmosphere was being cranked up, then the over the PA they announced the teams were in the tunnel ready to come out.
Great game, great atmosphere and perhaps the most priceless moment was texting a Tottenham fan from work who was watching the game live on television. I will not bother with a match report, as there are others you can read. The penalties may have been debateable but they will not overshadow a great team performance of character and grit. Spurs just did not turn up in the first half and were only slightly better in the second. As I left Ashburton Grove for the long journey home, I took a final few photos for the scrapbook. The sun was shining in the distance and shone brightly on the glass walls of the stadium. I captured the moment on camera. The first North London derby at our new home, a majorly significant landmark in the history of this beloved football club. Right down to the personal note of this being the first time I had the priveledge to see us lock horns with our bitter arch rivals.
My rock and roll weekend continued as I dashed home. I had to drive home, get changed and head out of the door almost straight away. Thankfully I had my sisters TomTom to guide guide me to Eastleigh. I was going to a dinner party with some friends and thankfully the satelite navigation got me there within a few minutes of 7.30pm. The time I had programmed in as my desired arrival time. Fantastic product, even though it wanted to originally guide me through the M40, M25 and M3 route but soon recalculated the moment I hit the A404 by-pass. I listened to Trevor Nelson on BBC Radio One and they played some cracking tunes, as requested by the public. Including Boogie 2Nite by Booty Luv, which has become a personal favourite of mine.
Cover songs, as you know are a little bugbear of mine. I have no issue if the artist covering the original goes for an unique interpretation of the song. However, I read this article over on Guardian Unlimited online and agreed with it wholeheartedly. A generation will grow up thinking songs such as Tragedy were by Steps and not the Bee Gees and the same with many songs from Westlife (who have now done countless covers). Thankfully there will be those of us willing to underline the fact that the song is indeed actually a cover and the original artist are so and so. Websites such as The Covers Project will keep the flame of truth burning bright.
It is Sunday afternoon and for the first time all week I have the time to dedicate to my web site. Believe me, it has been a roller coaster week, not just with work but in my own strange world. Here I am, with so many things to write about and with little idea of where to begin. To make life easier I will go back as far I can and work my way back to the present. I think it will make sense, just bare with me.
I am not the biggest James Bond fan in the world. My Dad is, but even he has not seen any of the films after A View To Kill (which was the last outing for his favourite 007). I am sure I have mentioned before, but until very recently the last Bond I had seen was A Licence To Kill. Nowadays I have to catch the movie at the big screen, fully appreciating why my Dad went to see Live & Let Die in the cinema (in India all those years ago). This would only be my second trip to see James at the cinema, but I can confirmed that I have seen every single official Bond film to date. I drove from my mate’s house to the Vue cinema in Oxford. Regular readers will know that I tend as a rule go to the cinema on a Friday night, the weekend a movie opens. As my friend was busy we opted to go to the Saturday afternoon screening at 2pm. We would have gone in the evening but he was busy and I was going out in Reading, so the time slot was a happy compromise. However, rather than being a master stroke of decisions, it turned out to be a mistake. We arrived a good half an hour before the screen would open, to find firstly a massive queue at the food counter. I counted four, yes, four tills out of use and only three members of staff serving. What a joke! There were two big queues forming, the busiest day of the weekend and yet half the staff are off on lunch. In any case, after getting our popcorn, we were shocked to discover the queue for the screen one, trailing all the way down the corridor. The majority of those in the queue were families and young children mainly boys the age of eight to ten. The film was a 12A certificate. We had learnt our lesson before even the Pearl and Dean trail played. I blamed my friend, it was his decision really and he had booked the tickets. In any case, we got in side and luckily got some good seats in the middle tier. After a little wait, the commercials and trailers, the 21st Bond adventure began.
Daniel Craig was never in my eyes a good choice for Bond. I am not doubting his acting ability, particular Munich which I saw earlier in February. He is not in the mould James Bond. Personally I wish they had taken a risk and played by Colin Salmon. It would have been refreshing to see a black but nevertheless accomplished actor take the role. Perhaps the fact he was in the background in three Bond movies previously they did not want to use him in a title role. However, in the movie Craig proves he has the ability to take on such a difficult role, showing both the grit and in places the dry comic humour that are synonymous with double 0 seven. Does he look the part though? No, on screen he never truly comes across as James Bond and that is a shame. The film firstly is too long, which is a big negative in my opinion from the producers. Never do you want your audience looking at their watches, wondering when the movie will come to a conclusion. Although there is a struggle between James and his nemesis, Le Chiffre, the Secret Service Agent does not get the chance to turn the tables on him and instead the result, is rather pathetic to say the least. There is also a love story of sorts, which just does not have a place in a Bond film. Well not to the extent here, but there is method in the madness. You have to consider this not as Bond 21, but Bond 0.5 prior to Dr. No but this will only make sense just before the title roll. Another bug to bare is the soundtrack and opening titles. The theme, is not like any other Bond theme before and I just do not like it. You can view the music video on You Tube and just for yourself. You Know My Name does link in with the final line of the movie but still does not create the same feelings as Bond songs previously. The open titles to, go away from the silhouette of dancing girls, to a more colour, animated story relating to gambling which links into the title.
Bond fans go and watch this movie and let me know what you think. For the average cinema goer, I am not sure if it will really hit the nail on the head. The action and set pieces are amazing and once again, James Bond dares to do the unthinkable for Queen and Country. However, the plot is over complex, particularly for our audience of young children. I can fully appreciate the need for the filmmakers to establish this new Bond and give a back story but I think at times, too much time is spent on this than other aspects of the story. The gadgets are stripped down to a bare minimum, which is a good thing and the DB5 looks awesome and very much a Bond car. I think we will be better able to tell how good Craig was as a choice for Bond after the next movie. We should consider this just an introduction and the second chapter will be decisive. Roll on Bond 22.
I had an ultimate objective. To have Windows reinstalled on my machine, fully working, with internet access (MSN etc) and be in a position to watch Torchwood. I started much later than I had anticipated on Sunday afternoon last weekend, using nLite to create a deployed Windows XP SP2 installation CD. I had searched around online and found a web site that had all the Windows updates since SP2 was released in a single download ready for integrating into my deployed CD. Magic. I missed a few steps in the configuration for nLite which meant my install was only partially unattended. However, I must say that whole process worked like a dream. The longest process was formatting my C drive with a full format. I used this time wisely by going for a quick power nap. Having the ability to tune and fully customise my installation of Windows XP, I was able to remove 100mb worth of needles drivers and programs. Fantastic. By 7.30pm I had Windows back up and running and then by 9pm, everything was running and the majority of my software had been installed. The main thing was my digital television card was up and running so I could tune into BBC3 for my weekly dose of Captain Jack and the rest of the gang. I was even able to fit in burning a auto play CD for work, so was glad to accomplish everything I needed to on my machine within the space of a few hours. It was also refreshing to know that in less than a week I had got my machine back to normal, having spent four to five days working on a test account. I have learnt my lesson do not worry. Do not let anyone tell you that no good comes out of bad.
A quick round up on other issues (a bit like the section on the news bulletin when they say, “in other news…”). Although it has not been great being an Arsenal fan over the past few weekends and particularly last night, I received my official membership pack for the season on Monday evening. Good timing, I went to the Hamburg game on Tuesday night. In yet another one of my firsts for 2006, this was my first official Champions League game and I had a great time. I could go into the major details but just do not have the time. You will by now, now the score and how le Boss praised the boys for a great comeback. When the visitors scored I thought, here we go again. The feeling was further cemented when Hleb hit the bar and Van Persie hit the post. Was it going to be yet another one of those European nights of missed opportunity? It was for part of the first half but in the second half Arsenal turned around the game. Walcott’s introduction was the catalyst for both the winning goals to put the tie beyond the Germans. The best atmosphere at the new stadium surpassing my four previous visits, particularly in the second half when the crowd got behind the Gooners.
In the post last week, I finally received the invoice for my archive supplies which had been delivered to work on Tuesday 7th, earlier this month. To my surprise the name on the invoice was incorrect, well technically no. It was just the Spanish version of my first name. Proof as if it was ever needed that my surname does give the impression of Hispanic ancestry. My cousin, Susan, many years ago researched the surname and discovered it originated from Portugal. Maybe one day, I will try and dig that bit deeper.
Strange week. Productive week. Demanding week. Glad Friday is finally here, although once again not much planned for the weekend. Perhaps I should start with the video I uploaded to You Tube last Friday evening. On Wednesday evening when I was reading the comments and looking at the statistics. It was around 4000 with around 30 odd comments. Nothing major, in comparison to the more popularly discussed videos on the site. To my surprise when I was in the office on Thursday I had around eleven e-mails from of people leaving comments plus at least three people whom were now subscribed to my video feed. Impressive when you consider I have only three comical videos on my account at the moment and they are not user generated content. When I headed over to the site I was shocked to see the views having surged to 45,000 and the comments headed for triple figures. I had picked up a few honours over the weekend with the video being in the top twenty discussed videos of the week but that was as I had only uploaded late on Friday evening. Now I was in the top 15 for the following week too. Impressive. The clip just encourages discussion, not just the fact that the singers are so controversial but as is the artist that is being covered (a great disservice nevertheless). MJ was back in the news earlier this week, thanks to Access Hollywood. Michael was over in Ireland, in the recording studio with none other than Will.i.am from a group you might know. Rather than go into the details, the full interview will be released on Thursday 2nd November and has caused quite a stir within the fan community, following the airing of a teaser trailer. I too am excited and looking forward to a sneak peak of new material for the forthcoming album. Whenever it drops.
Keeping on the MJ theme, I went to the Thriller Live concert back at the tail end of August. I wrote (I know I could have sent an e-mail but they deserved much more) to the producers to thank them personally for a wonder show but only discovered that my review had been published on their web site. (Scroll down the page, third one) In between all the You Tube e-mails I have been reviewing was a note from the team to let me know that the Thriller Live musical was about to begin a UK tour in the new year and I was invited to their launch party in February. Of course I’ll be there.
I was aiming to update my blog on Tuesday evening but had little to write about my day. It was part of the big British blog day as prescribed by History Matters. There was no way I was going to surrender the copyright of my blog (even for one posting) to a third party, so I was happy to blog on here, but found myself forcing the words onto the page so therefore just gave up. Now, three days later I find myself able more readily to draw the lines between the dots. I was going to consider my working day and then reflect it against my evening. Both are spent on the computer. Achieved little in the office. If anything I created work for myself, smashing the call queue to 100, closing perhaps two or three calls over the course of the day. The call queue would remain that way until today when I got it to around 80. I left work late, which has become a regular occurrence this week, apart from today when I rushed out at 6pm sharp. Arsenal were losing and I listened to the commentary on Five Live on the drive home on crackly AM. At home, I was able to catch the last thirty minutes or so on ITV4, including that Henry goal that should have stood. Perhaps the ref saw something different. That set the mood for my evening, I spend the evening online, talking to friends but not actually doing anything really productive. No different from any other night.
As a big fan of Doctor Who, I am looking forward to Torchwood, that starts on BBC Three on Sunday with a double bill. Looks like the BBC has been booked for two shows every weekend for the next month or so. Although time will tell whether Captain Jack will become our next big TV hero. It has the polished website you would expect from the BBC and the trailers have been screened regularly on primetime BBC1 slots, trying to go for the edgy fast paced American style teasers to get you on board. Maybe others need to be persuaded, I will be tuning in regularly on a Sunday evening. Although it took me a while to work out that T shape logo in orange that kept flashing up between trails. Thankfully I have the option to watch Freeview in my room but might have to book out the lounge. Right, I think I will go and upload another video to You Tube. Best to make the most of my new found celebrity status.
Do you like routine? I am a big fan of setting a routine and sticking with it. Therefore you can understand any changes to my routine affect me a great deal. Let me give the example of Wednesday this week. I was looking forward to the game that evening, but rather than taking the soft option of taking the day off, or even semi-soft option of a half day, I worked until 3pm and then planned to come home to get ready for the trip into London. As usual, with so much going on in the office and loads to do I did not leave until nearly 4pm, even then I had a difficult escape from the office. I enjoy my job, but gave a very poor account of myself that morning. Felt a bit guilty leaving so early and leaving quite a mess for my colleagues to deal with. Nevertheless, I was off to the football and I tried to forget about work for a while.
Rushed home and the lack of traffic on the roads helped, although I knew it would be busier driving into the town centre. I booked my ticket on the automated machine, pleased to see another Gooner waiting for someone by the station entrance. It was 16:36. The next train to Marylebone was not for another eleven minutes as I had just missed one pull away from platform one, as I was getting my parking ticket. An hour after my train left Wycombe, I was at Piccadilly Circus tube station, waiting to take the Piccadilly Line north to Finsbury Park. I called home at 18:09 to let them know I had arrived safely. I was walking down St. Thomas’s Road and my sister warned me that it was about to start raining. It was a slight drizzle as I came off the phone, but then suddenly the heaven opens. Several of the other supporters that had arrived early rushed for cover under the trees or balconies or doorways. I continued walking. Past Arsenal station (which was packed) I came to the corner of Drayton Park and took some cover under the trees. Waiting for a good fifteen minutes while the rain died down. There were numbers of fans, even some Dynamo Zagreb that braved the showers to head to the ground. As the rain settled down I walked on to the main bridge and waited at the bottom of the stairs, texting Terry. He did not respond, so I walked up to the stadium and took some photographs. As I had not received a confirmation e-mail for this fixture I did not know which turnstile to use to enter the stadium. So I approached a steward who asked for my membership card. He tapped in my number into his PDA, which was wirelessly connected to the main booking computer but for some reason his PDA was playing up. He got took me to another steward who accessed my details and printed off a ticket stub on a small till receipt like printer. This is a very good system, and even with the teething problems, the stewards we all very helpful and kind. I walked around to D and walked through. The concourse was practically empty and I got some food before heading upstairs. There was a plenty of time before kick off, so I decided to make a full circuit around the ground and take a few photographs. It was getting busier, but I was able to snap some pictures from the great glass windows looking out across North London. I was even able to go and take some pictures of the pitch prior to talking my seat. Sony have installed large Sony HD TV screens across the concourse. The picture quality was amazing, as they showed the team arriving. Each of the players coming off the coach in the underground car park, right underneath me. After my lap around, it was minutes before kick off so I headed to my seat. Row 32, is right up at the back of the new North Stand, just one back from the last row. My seat was two in from the aisle, so a central view of the pitch and on the right the big television screen. The teams had been announced. Looking down at the pitch, with a few of the players training, I noticed someone coming up the stairs. Someone famous. Well semi-famous. Just like my visit exactly a month ago, I was to be in the presence of yet another television celebrity. Hardeep starred in the Channel 4 comedy based in Glasgow, last year, Meet the Magoons. He may have been spotted more recently on Newsnight Review and here he was, with his son, sitting a few feet away from me.
The game itself came to live quite early but for all the wrong reasons. The team from Croatia took an early lead due to our defence falling asleep. It was poor performance and perhaps the young team were resting on the cushion of a three nil lead from the first leg. We started to string some passes together and push into the final third but the finishing just was not there. In the second half, Arsene brought on Henry, Gilberto and Walcott to fine tune the attacking options and shield the defence. Some fans believe it was the worst European performance ever, even though we did eventually win. It will will soon be forgotten, as the group stages commence in a few weeks. Yet it will go down in history as the first win at the Emirates Stadium.
On my way home there are a few stories to tell. Firstly, at Leicester square a couple got on, friends I believe. The female was Canadian, I would say American but I think I would be wrong. As I got up to give up my seat before Piccadilly Circus, she made eye contact with me and said, “Did Arsenal win?” Yes they did, was my reply with a nod and she just smiled and beamed back, “My brother will be pleased”. I did not say anything more, just smiled back before getting ready to jump off the tube train. On my Chiltern Railways that left Marylebone at 23:33 I was in a window seat and as the train was quite busy a young lady came and sat next to me. I thought nothing more of it, even when she got out her iPod and plugged herself in. As we neared Gerrards Cross, I realised that she had fallen asleep and would have to wake her up so I could get off the train. This was something I did not really want to do. It was a perfect moment that could be captured on YouTube and played over and over again. I looked across the aisle and a guy laughed as I attempted to tab the shoulder of this stranger. She woke up after a second shake and I apologised before being able to escape. That was not too hard but not something I would like to do again soon.
Wednesday will also go down, in my personal history as the first day I did not use my personal computer. I cannot remember the last time a day went past without me switching on my machine. I am sure it is noted down somewhere on this blog, but right now I cannot recall the date. Anyway it was strange to not pick up my e-mails or speak to friends on MSN but I suppose ultimately a good thing. Time away from the screen, can never be a bad thing.