Quarter Final Bound
Wednesday 26th October 2016
For the second time in the last few days last night’s victory over Reading certainly wont live long in the memory bank. But in games that fall into that category, the number 1 priority is we get the result if nothing else. And as we look forward to tonight’s draw that will determine who we take on in the last 8, another couple of goals and a clean sheet make the whole situation very satisfying.
For most midweek home games I tend to drive (or get driven), the only reason being it can be the difference between getting in at 1am or 4am in the morning. Yesterday was no different and the lack of traffic school half term week can often mean made it a very comfortable and easy journey up from my part of the world.
It meant I could relax, enjoy some pre-match tucker and even have time to have a walk round The Armoury store before heading off to enjoy my more regular routine. The shop is pretty spectacular these days and a far cry from the almost ‘kiosk’ like version near the old Clock End turnstiles ran successfully for many years by ex Arsenal goalkeeper Jack Kelsey and his colleagues.
The late Jack is very much an Arsenal legend. A one club man he made over 300 appearances for us and represented Wales on 41 occasions. After making his debut in 1949 his playing career ended in 1963 but he would go on working on the commercial side for an amazing 26 further years.
Just 4 years after he retired from the playing side we took on Reading on 11th October 1968 and like last night it was a League Cup tie. Little did Gooners know Peter Simpson’s winning goal that night would ultimately contribute to a run that took us all the way to Wembley. Leeds beat us that day but it was definitely a sign of what was to come over the next few years.
Being only our 3rd attempt at success in the League Cup, the competition was only really beginning to drum up bigger interest amongst Arsenal fans, a fact demonstrated in the programme that night being only a 4 pager! This meant there was only room for the team line ups, kit descriptions, match officials, the Met Police Band’s ‘Programme of Music’ for the evening and a team picture and details of the Reading team we would face.
Arsenal connections with The Royals that night included ex Gunner Dave Bacuzzi ‘keen to recover from a broken leg to play against his former club tonight’ and Colin Meldrum ‘captain of the side and returning to Highbury nine years after beginning his career as an Arsenal ground-staff boy’!
Returning to my current day visit to the club shop, like all of us I find it very difficult to pop in and just peruse! Consequently, approximately 20 minutes later I left a fair few quid lighter and with more ‘luggage’ to haul around on a match night!
As I’ve mentioned many times down the years I tend to purchase a seat in an alternative part of the stadium for League Cup ties and last night was no different. For me it always emphasises one thing above all else and that is you witness a totally different game depending on your vantage point.
My location on this occasion was West Stand Lower Tier near the away team dugout and it certainly gave an excellent view of the Ox’s fine first goal. Massively deserved it came at the end of an opening period where we could and probably should have been 3 or 4 goals to the good and have already put the game to bed.
Being just 1 ahead our visitors had their moments but overall we looked pretty comfortable throughout. We needed that second, if nothing else so as to avoid potential extra time etc. and a 4am home arrival for me! The Ox duly provided and it was job done on the night.
His performance was certainly a plus point as was the fact both Jenko and Olly got vital pitch minutes as they get back to full fitness. Attack wise we have been pretty good so far this season but Olly provides something that nobody else in our squad is capable of. And Saturday’s game at home to Middlesbrough was arguably as good an example as any of how much we could have done with him as an option.
Many of those out there last night also gave us a great example of the depth of younger talent in our club. They all impressed as they look to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Alex Iwobi, a player who has not only enjoyed an incredible year but has the potential to go on and be something very special.
The next few days involves considerable travel in the UK and Europe. That story begins with the long trip to Sunderland. All being well I will be there of course and that, along with our first ever visit to Bulgaria, I plan to keep you up to date with events….warts ‘n’ all!
2 steps from Wembley…….