Sunday 3rd December 2006

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.

Sunshine ReflectionAshburton Grove

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.

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