Dancing on the Gazi Strip
10th December 2015
Sometimes all the hours, money dedication find you questioning your own sanity. And then you get a trip like this one. Sat in Athens airport there are lot of very tired looking people. But there are a huge number of smiles too.
Monday night feels a long time ago now. But that’s when our latest adventure began with our flight from Heathrow.
A few hours of kip and we enjoyed a slap up meal and took in the nightlife, initially in Psiri before going to somewhere we hadn’t visited on any of our numerous visits, Gazi.
By day we experienced the strange scenario of sitting in the city’s Christmas Wonderland in glorious sunshine whilst the night saw us in a bar come club well into the wee small hours.
Our trip on this occasion was a 2 centre holiday! So matchday arrived with us checking out of our Athens city centre hotel and checking in to one in Piraeus, the home area of our hosts.
Everything had gone very smoothly so far and matchday was no different. A location that looked after us on our previous visit played host once more and accompanying the excellent food, huge beer menu and great banter was an enormous amount of PMT.
Everyone has aired their views as to whether we should have been in a position where only a healthy win would see us through. And there can be little arguments as to the fact we definitely shouldn’t have.
But after 5 matches that was the situation. Nothing could change that.
I think the majority of us were optimistic. But I also feel deep down we all feared it was a too bigger hurdle to overcome.
Our hosts were noisy of course and I think they all felt it was their night. Their time to party. Their time to celebrate. But we also knew if we could get our noses in front, the pressure could really get to them.
When Flammers smashed to woodwork it looked a bit ominous but we completed that period of pressure by taking that all important lead. Jostle number 1 in the away end. Game on.
Our second was a thing of real beauty. Joel’s drag back and superb pass sliced open Olympiacos’ defence and Olly complimented his perfectly timed run by burying it.
We couldn’t……..could we?!
When shortly after the referee pointed to the spot we were in dreamland and Olly slotted home with an air of total confidence streaming through his veins.
It was nothing short of pandemonium in the away end. And with roughly half an hour to go many of the home fans headed for the exits.
We had clinically and brilliantly done a job on them in their own back yard. And boy did we enjoy it.
It was very late by the time we got out of the ground but sleep was just not an option. So we celebrated and revelled in our victory. No surprise there.
We don’t like Thursdays at Arsenal Football Club. They are for sightseeing.
So grinning and smiling through our hangovers that’s what we did today. The Olympic Stadium, Acropolis etc got the Stubbsy Tour treatment and brought a quite fantastic away trip to a close.
I like Athens. But despite having been here many times it hasn’t been happy hunting ground.
Wednesday was one of ‘those’ nights however. Winning was a possibility. But going through was a tough ask. Our performance and result should never be understated.
We were simply awesome.
See you at Villa Park.