Legendary Day Out
Monday 5th September 2016
Like everyone I was a little bit disappointed that Thierry and Dennis were not on the pitch on Saturday. But having seen them for a combined total of nearly 600 times, I certainly wasn’t going to lose sleep over it. Arsenal Football Club is a family you see. A ‘club’ in every sense. And that means I don’t care who wears that shirt as long as they are proud to do so. I genuinely didn’t think I would enjoy the entertainment on show as much as I did. But as an event, as a hugely successful way of making money for worthy causes, as a thoroughly relaxing way to spend a few hours in the company of near on 60 thousand others, I was extremely pleased I went along.
It is only on days where the clubs in the upper reaches of this country’s football pyramid are not playing that you witness just how many people are on their way to games on ‘normal’ weekends. Of course there are many millions who support other clubs and they were still present on my small part of the railway network on Saturday morning, but the level of quietness emphasized the lack of travellers heading to games in the top 2 leagues.
There was still plenty of red and white about with a near on full house expected in London N5 all adding to what promised to be an interesting occasion.
The numbers were swelled by a huge number of youngsters too, all the more interesting when many would have only ever got the chance to see these players don the red and white on video, DVD or online. Trying to avoid the fact that also makes me feel very old I spent much of the day reminiscing about particular moments when at their brilliant best. Bobby Pires lobbing Schmeichal at Villa, Gilberto’s equaliser at Doncaster, Anders’ late destruction of Coventry at Highfield Road, Nutty’s late winner at Chelsea, Freddie’s goal in Cardiff, Luis Boa Morte’s crucial FA Cup goal at Preston, Gilles’ winner against Palace, Manu’s all important winner against Derby, Kanu’s hat-trick at the Bridge, Ray’s rocket against Valencia, Seaman’s Sampdoria heroics, Kolo emerging as an invincible centre half, Keown’s desire against Van N at Old Trafford, Jens’ penalty save in Villareal, Overmars run and goal at Highbury 98…….the list goes on and on.
And for possibly one final time, although a little older and little slower, we were to see all these players once again.
Although visibly and understandably not quite as mobile as in the past, the players’ style is still so recognisable. Trying hard not to offend here, Bobby still runs a little bit like a duck, Nutty Nige still plays as if his life depends upon it, Gilberto still moves from side to side like that all important moving ‘brick wall’, Freddie’s all action bustling runs were still present and as for Kanu, his massive feet still make the ball look like a marble and despite the technique looking even more languid these days, he is still an absolute magician with a football!
Goals and a win were far from essential of course but totally helped make it a thoroughly entertaining day as well as Nige’s fun and games with Paolo di Canio and Keown threatening to throttle Mr Wenger for not bringing him on.
Those of us that were lucky enough to witness Bobby and Freddie’s Arsenal careers have seen goals similar to the 4th time and time again. And just like when Thierry came back to score that goal against Leeds, Saturday’s run, cross and goal led to serious goosebumps. Seems silly thinking about it. But it happened.
A few post match beers with fellow Gooners from local, Yorkshire and Australia were thoroughly enjoyed after, emphasizing once again how far and wide this Arsenal family stretches.
And for just a couple of priceless hours on Saturday afternoon we got to relax and look back.
See you on Saturday as we take on the Saints.