Best Away Trip Ever
Tuesday 19th April 2017
Middlesbrough away on a Monday night is about as attractive as eating uncooked chicken. But as I head south this morning I can’t describe events in any other way than it has been thoroughly enjoyable.
Unless I wanted to travel through the night and pretty much sit straight at my desk and try and do a day’s work, an overnight stay was my only option. And I didn’t fancy the drive either. So a 7am stroll along the seafront and an early ferry saw me start a train journey that couldn’t possibly have run any smoother.
Me and my fellow travellers discussed many things in the build up, some more important than others but all highly amusing of course. Does a pie need a bottom to be a pie? (don’t ask). Was our 3 nil cup replay defeat at Luton in 1985 an all time low? Was Olive from ‘On the Buses’ attractive? The usual important issues of the day.
But one thing we did all agree on is games like last night are the ones we most want to attend. When things aren’t going well, when the whole world is against you, when the game’s day and kick-off time couldn’t be more inconvenient. And we had an absolute scream, before, during and after.
A small pub crawl in the university part of the city started proceedings on a sunny and warm afternoon. But what happened to that Spring day is difficult to work out! Come kick off time it was not only lashing it down it was proper freezing! The decision to bring the coat was certainly a good one.
As a game it wasn’t exactly a thriller but it was all about getting the result. And despite some tricky moments and conceding yet again we got just that. A grotty horrible Monday night on Teesside with a satisfying 3 points.
Results to celebrate have been few and far between in recent times as we all know. So that was our excuse as we stumbled back to our digs in the early hours thoroughly contented with our day.
Wembley comes next and in recent times there is that ‘yet again’ feel about it. Very few of us Gooners will have that ‘buzz’ surrounding our previous visits. And that is as a result of our current form as much as anything else.
But us football fans are a funny and often fickle lot. The joy of getting to the semi in 2014 was immense and going one step further intensified that emotion enormously. And winning it was up there with the best days of our Arsenal supporting lives.
The situation was no different 12 months later and included a feeling of satisfaction that arguably outweighed the previous year’s relief.
A couple of Community Shield victories topped off an incredible period for us in our national stadium of course but I would be lying if I didn’t get the impression amongst many Gooners out there that they are not too bothered about it this time round. A mixture of ‘been there, done that’ and general apathy towards our current form seeing many using any excuse to not actually go to the game. Excuses that simply weren’t there in those previous years.
Incredible I know, but true nonetheless.
It does mean of course, that those who are attending seriously want to be there and our end will be sold out and packed to the rafters as usual. And I fully expect us to make plenty of noise too.
Admittedly we were considerably better than Wigan, Hull, Reading and Villa on paper and although every team still has to beaten on the day those Wembley visits saw us come out with victories from performances ranging from a little more than mediocre to approaching perfection. The point is any display could be enough to see us through.
To a large extent that also applies to this season’s games against Sutton and Lincoln.
But, continuing the ‘on paper’ theme we are not better than Man City, certainly based on recent months anyway. So unless we turn up and put in a performance we will get beat on Sunday, it’s as simple as that.
Stating that is not me being negative. I am thoroughly looking forward to it and will being singing my heart out to try and assist, in some small way, our bid to reach yet another FA Cup Final. Despite our troubles elsewhere that is an enormous incentive and still hugely important to me personally.
Looking out of my train window we have just gone through Retford at a fair old pace so London beckons.
And I still have a headache.
Worth every penny and all the effort.
Enjoy Sunday and sing up.