Monday 14th September 2015
I’ve always believed life is for living and although I totally accept there are many many ways of doing that, I can confidently claim that my choice of journey is never dull!
A huge amount of that whole combination involves following our great team of course. Doing that however, can make some of the other things I like doing a trifle complicated. In a strange kind of way, almost bordering on sadism, I tend to quite enjoy the challenge of fitting everything in. Hard work at times, but you certainly won’t hear me complaining. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again I am more than fortunate to be in a position to even attempt the things I choose and will never forget that.
Approaching the international weekend, a pretty ‘full on’ period approached, none more so than the days that included Saturday’s home game against Stoke.
As national sides (and most of our squad of course) took their latest steps towards qualifying for Summer tournaments, I joined a host of great friends for a stag weekend at Weyfest, a small but hugely entertaining music festival in Surrey. Naturally the vast majority of my pals support the mighty AFC and that includes the stag. It goes without saying that ‘what goes on tour stays on tour’ but seeing him dressed over the weekend in a combination of a long blonde haired lady, an elderly gentleman and a punk rocker was amusing for all attendees.
My various tales do follow a familiar pattern when it comes to the fact I enjoy a pint…….but I do stand by the fact my consumption always goes hand in hand with the kind of occasions where such activities are the norm. Such as days that end in a ‘y’ 😉
A stag weekend is certainly one where those attending don’t tend to share a milkshake or smoothie and this one was no less messy.
Getting home on the Sunday night it’s a good 48 hours or more before you feel anything approaching normality but I guess that is just an age thing! Ok in usual circumstances but Bestival started on Thursday last week……and when a party like that is taking place on your doorstep it is simply impossible not to attend. And when friends are going with you it seems almost rude not to start as you mean to go on by enjoying a few on Wednesday night!
Of course heading to and thoroughly enjoying a massive music festival is nothing new but when you throw in an Arsenal home game right in the middle it makes things a little bit more difficult. And requires some ‘stamina’ believe me!
Picture the scene….
Having pushed Friday night into the wee small hours, the carefully set alarm on my mobile goes off at 7am. I am in a field, in a camper van. And I’m desperate for a pee. My head hurts, I feel woozy and my mouth feels like I have swallowed my flip flop.
Fumbling around I find some clothes. Not really ‘going to football’ clothes though. More of a festival ‘outfit’. Toothbush, toothpaste and deodorant help too. And of course my season ticket, my train ticket and my wallet.
The walk from my field to the festival taxi rank takes about 30 to 40 minutes. And despite glorious weather so far, during my walk there was a ‘heavy shower’. There would be.
Two-thirds of the way to my destination my route is blocked by a temporary fence.
“I’m sorry Sir but the site is closed for an hour”.
“But I have a cab booked in 15 minutes” I replied.
“Well you can’t come this way I’m afraid” said Jobsworth.
“Look, there’s nobody about, it’s pissing with rain and I have a cab booked mate. Stop being stubborn and turn a sensible blind eye. We’ve got Stoke at home you know!”
“I couldn’t possibly do that Sir” he said.
“No, of course you can’t” I replied.
Consequently I was sent on an enormous detour that saw me reach the festival’s bus garage.
And I was soaked. And I was sweating alcohol!
“Excuse me Sir, where are you going?” I was asked.
“You tell me” I said. “One of your colleagues has sent me this way to get a cab I’ve got booked”
“Well you can’t come through here mate” he said.
“I’ll tell you what, I’m going to keep walking, you call your boss, or the police, or the SAS and get me arrested or whatever floats your boat” I advised through ever increasing frustration.
One phone call and a few more stewards ignored and I was in the relative warm, dry and comfort of my purposely ‘that will make things easier’ taxi and on my way to catch my early morning ferry.
It is safe to say things got better from there.
I hadn’t planned to meet friends and fellow Gooners on my train, especially some who were very much embarking on a jolly of their own so came ‘armed’ with vodka, diet coke & incredibly a bag of ice! Not big or clever so early in the morning but it certainly ‘sorted me out’!
Having enjoyed the usual pre match build up in London N5 it was an enjoyable, professional and extremely dominant team performance that made all my efforts seem so worthwhile. I’m convinced the goals will start to flow and looking at our current position we have made a steady start. Stoke are never easy to beat and we know that more than most.
2 goals, a clean sheet and 3 points. That will do nicely.
With that in the bag I wanted to get back to all things Bestival so a swift exit at the final whistle, fortunate tube, train and ferry connections and the same cabby that picked me up all those hours earlier saw me rejoin the party by 8pm.
It’s now Monday, I feel like I have been hit by a steamroller and I need some sleep.
So a 6am start tomorrow to catch my flight to Zagreb is just what the doctor ordered!
Over land and sea.