Wednesday 5th October 2005

Sunday came around quicker than I imagined, yet I still seemed to be working to a Sunday clock. I got up just before 9am, thinking I would have plenty of time to make it to the ground, meet up with Terry with time to spare before kick off. Well things got to a bad start, when I did not get Terry’s mobile number. Never mind, hopefully he had noted mine and would be in touch. After spending some time watching music videos on Sky, I decided to get a move on. My first decision was to check the oil, water and tyres pressures on my car, assuming that I may have to go on a longer journey than planned. By the time I got ready and headed out of the door, it was nearly 11.30am and my train from Wycombe station was at 11:53am, would I make it in time? What most people forget is I’m a seasoned veteran when it comes to traveling by train and tube (something that will come up again). I had originally decided to travel from Chalfont & Latimer, but knew that with proposed engineering works, three major tube lines would be affected and it was safer bet to be closer to home, rather than the other side of the county. Boarding the train, I took my seat and looked up to see a bunch of Birmingham fans sitting opposite me, one of them shout, “Gooners”. I looked backed and smiled. The usual questions about if I was going to the game and if we would make it on time on this train. I looked at my watch and explained we would have plenty of time. I then went on to explain the best route by tube. They decided to follow me, but I knew they would have to be quick to keep up. I was surprised they did not offer me a can of Carling as a token of thanks, but then later in the journey I discovered all the cans were empty, as the tower they were making, crashed onto the table. The journey was long, and another group of lads started to play music from a underpowered mp3 player and it showed. The train was packed for a Sunday lunchtime and the fact we arrived in Paddington instead of the customary Marylebone, meant I had to adjust my journey (only by two stops) to compensate. By the time I hit the Underground, the Arsenal fans started appearing. I wanted to make conversation, but everyone seem stuck in their own world. Perhaps, the fact our season has not been going quite to plan, has meant that there is little to cheer about. Liverpool doing us a favour in the final match of the weekend, would be a great benefit. The exit at Arsenal station, was busy as expected, but the walk upstairs, was quicker than I had expected. I was greeted by a strong police presence, before I was swallowed in a sea of red(currant). I was here. Finally after six years of waiting. My first Arsenal game, when I didn’t have to beg, steal, borrow, or guilt trip someone into taking me or letting their tickets go. I had little time to take in the great North London atmosphere. Kick off was fast approaching and I had to quickly grab a programme from one of the sellers outside on Gillespie Road and head into the North Stand entrance. Through the turnstiles, I tried to savour each minor moment. My seat was towards the left of the upper tier on the North Bank. In line (just) with the outer pitch, so had a great view of the game. I was hoping, that all of Arsenal’s goals would come in the second half, give me something to cheer about. My seat was 54 and owned (perhaps) by a Alan Read. To my left, a middle aged man, perhaps out to a football match with his thirty something daughter. To my right, there was a young girl around 14, with her father, enjoying a Premiership match for the first time. Yet across the North Bank (where I have always sat for my previous two Arsenal games) there is camaraderie between those friends, who come to every home game. How I wish I could say, “See you in a couple of weeks, Tom!”. 🙁 No time to think of the future, there was a match to watch, as the teams came out. We play poorly, by our high standards. Our passing game, was great, but when it came to the final third, there was no body there to finish the job, take a shot. Cunningham was set off, early on and I thought that would drive us forward, but instead we just sat back and probed forward when we liked. When we were awarded a penalty (speculative, even in my biased opinion) I thought this was when the flood gates would truly open. Pires stepped up. I was confident after his last pen against the Ajax. He didn’t look confident and Maik Taylor made yet another great save. A guy behind me, made the comment, that we are not going to score with a team full of midfielders and I agreed with him. At times frustrating to watch, I had to be patient, but we all expected more from our team, if we were serious about plugging the game between us and those Chelski Blues. Everyone was looking to make the final pass and not actually take it. Arsene knows. He made the changes, that would bring this game to life. Bergkamp came on, along with his fellow countryman, Van Persie. These were the changes that finally gave us the cutting edge. Further probing and, then a shot far out by Robin, gave us the lucky goal, we perhaps didn’t deserve on the day for the football game. We needed to win, if only for the confidence of our team and our fans. I enjoyed the match, even if the performance wasn’t vintage Arsenal. The best moment? Singing along to… “One Nil to the Arsenal…” while the clock had a few minutes to tick away. It is important to think of of those less fortunate than ourselves. Even if they come from the richest, most powerful country in the world. The most striking statistic, for me is the fact that our country, the United Kingdom is used to describe the level of devastation caused by the Katrina hurricane. While perhaps, some may consider it too little too late, I feel that in these circumstances, every little helps. James’ performance of Human Nature, as seen the Dangerous Tour in 1992 was amazing. The perfect song, to end the perfect weekend. It has gone full circle. But is this chapter on my life truly closed? I think, it is only just beginning.

Eros Statue Seany, Anika & Teg

I Get A High Whenever You’re Around Sweeping From My Head To My Toes I, I Gotta Get My Feet Back On The Ground ‘Cause You Make Me Go Out Of My Way Crossing The Line Making Me Say What I Have In Mind

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