Back in the Game
Wednesday 10th February 2016
There was a real sense that we simply had to win on Sunday lunchtime. Certainly dropping further points would have been intensely disappointing. Fortunately on the day we did exactly what we needed to do in a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon on the south coast.
Living in this part of the world as I do these days, it is extremely rare to be heading west for a game. In fact despite having seen Arsenal teams of various levels play at Plymouth, Yeovil and Dorchester down the years, it is a brand new journey since I moved to my new abode. Consequently, my UK map has a new red pin this week. Proudly sat there with 3 points to its name.
As a result of our lack of visits finding a first team fixture to talk and reminisce about was always going to be relatively difficult on this occasion……but there is one out there! Let me take you back just over 50 years to October 1965 and a friendly away at Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic Football Club, arranged as a testimonial awarded to long time Dean Court servant Dai Woodward.
Dai joined the club as far back as 1939 and went on to make over 300 appearances over a 25 year period. 1965 not only saw players such as Sammels, Radford, Armstrong and Mclintock on the team page but the late great Don Howe was at full back, scoring a goal in a 6-2 win for the Gunners. As for Dai, he went on to coach at Bournemouth teams at both youth and reserve level before passing away in 1997.
A heavy Saturday night with a few of my fellow Gooners who had chosen to travel down and enjoy the local hospitality of my home town meant it was a relatively bleary eyed start to Sunday morning’s journey. But once set up camp a short walk from the match venue, all seemed rosy.
Without meaning to be detrimental or condescending in any way Dean Court (or the Vitality Stadium as it is known these days) is very small when you compare it to all other stadia in this country’s top flight. But located in leafy Boscombe it was a fantastic place to visit and our hosts have already proved on a number of occasions they have very much got what it takes to hold their own at the top level. Consolidation has to be the way forward you would imagine before looking to take the club to the next stage. These things take time and what they have achieved so far is absolutely exceptional.
Dominating possession from minute one is something we have seen many many times of course. Making it count is the important bit. And Mesut and the Ox’s thumping strikes made sure we did just that. Vitally important as our hosts got more into the game in the second period but we were relatively solid and professional and those massive three points were safely in the bag. Crucial? Possibly. Hugely satisfying? Definitely.
Our next game back in October 1965 was against Leicester, quite a coincidence all things considered. Sunday is massive.
Each and every week teams are dropping points in the top 8 of the Premier League. The fact it is so tight is testament to that. One or both of us will definitely being doing that on Sunday lunchtime. Our visitors’ capabilities are simply not in question. That alone and the positivity three points and a win can bring is totally sufficient to make sure we are up for it on the day.
Some who were originally attending can no longer be there of course. Once again those who run this country’s game putting the fans last being hugely apparent. But those of us who are lucky enough to still be able to be at the game can make a difference.
So sing up Gooners!
Come on you mighty reds!