Toughing Out a Point

Monday 18th January 2016

We all have our habits and some are more acceptable than others! One of mine is biting my nails, something that although I have done since I was a young boy, is definitely brought on by stress, pressure and the like. Which doesn’t really explain why I did it when I was very young but there you go!!

Following our team drums up pretty much every emotion known to man of course and as a result this week my fingers are battered! And although we haven’t taken all 6 points we have come out the other side unbeaten in two extremely tough away fixtures.

I mentioned a certain away game at Stoke back in September 1970 in a previous blog and it is the same game I am going back to on this occasion. Not because I have some weird affection for big defeats but due to the only conversation I have ever had with a fan of the Potters it was this fixture that formed part of the subject matter.

We got nil....they didn't

We got nil….they didn’t

Taking place on a lads holiday back in the late eighties or early nineties I can only tell you it was somewhere hot in Europe. Playa de Las Americas, Kavos or somewhere like that gives you the picture.

These type of locations were full of fans of various teams during the off season months and my conversation when something like this;

“So you follow Stoke then?” I began.
“Yes mate” he replied. “And I can see by your shorts you’re a Gooner. That team we stuffed 5 nil the year you done the double.”
Amused that he didn’t quite get that his weak reference was followed by reminding me about a great year in our history I replied, “Yes, that’s right. The same season you blew a two goal lead in the cup semi final against us.”

“That’s always you lot’s answer” he strangely went on.

“Probably” I said, “….and usually followed by a reminder that we put you out at the same stage the following year.”

He wasn’t happy if my memory serves me right and as he disappeared off into the night he left with the parting comment, “that’s why we’ve always hated you lot.”

Things haven’t really changed to this day! And you can really feel it when you go up there. The fact it seems to be most Gooners’ least favourite away game of the season adds spice to that whole affair.

Stoke are very strong at home. And it is this that has seen them sit very comfortably in the top flight for a number of years now.
Looking at the 1970 programme it seems things were no different. After their win that day they hadn’t won any away games, yet remained unbeaten at home.

If Liverpool was wet, Stoke was absolutely freezing. Conceding a last minute equaliser Wednesday, a full, noisy and intimidating Britannia Stadium, a dreadful record in this fixture and an ice cold day certainly made up an overall package that could have seen us fail again.

Into Stoke's Cauldron

Into Stoke’s Cauldron

Matching your team in the fight first is a football cliché often used and probably doesn’t ring any truer than in this fixture. And for the first time since our one victory was overshadowed when the Stoke centre half broke Rambo’s leg, on Sunday I felt we battled extremely hard to earn something from the game.

We created chances and late on so did our hosts. Depending where you looked after the game the man of the match was either goalkeeper. And that probably sums up the game and the reason it finished goalless.

We’ll take the point as a positive and remain top after a very difficult week I feel. We certainly shouldn’t feel downhearted.

Three home games on the bounce now, the first seeing us take on our neighbours from the blue part of Fulham. The Champions are not having a great season, their lowly League position evidence of that. None of us are stupid enough however, to expect anything other than the usual tough encounter.

A number of people have said to me us travelling Gooners sounded very loud on the TV on Sunday. That’s great to hear I think and we can make the difference by doing exactly the same at the weekend.

Come on you mighty reds!



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