Saturday 24th June 2017
There is nothing even the slightest bit entertaining about flying. So a flight to completely the other side of the globe fills me with dread. I think if I could sleep ok I would be much more positive about a form of transport where the fact it is even possible still astounds me. But I can only sleep if I am comfortable. And in hundreds of flights down the years I have yet to find one where I could feel just that. Despite trying a variety of gadgets, pillows and seat positions I still find it impossible.
Dragons Den should be my aim I guess as surely I can’t be the only one who finds himself waking from anything resembling a doze as soon as his head nods forward. An invention that prevents that would make a far happier journey for anyone who falls into this category.
And this, the first of 2 flights that will get me to my initial destination of Melbourne, has been quite turbulent too. Not the unsettling, violent, unnerving type you can experience sometimes. Just that kind you would associate with some kind of ‘sleep torture’ where each time it looks like you might actually be dropping off, someone gives you a little shake to make sure you don’t!
And as for the lady sat next to me, picture the scene. For those into that sort of thing my aircraft is a 787 ‘Dreamliner’ with 50 + rows and hundreds of seats. As I walked down the air bridge to board the flight there was a lady with a kind of obvious and noisy ‘tic’ involving a rather stomach churning snorting sound. Not her fault of course, but knowing how much I struggle with long flights I selfishly but understandably hoped she was sitting in another part of the plane to me.
Yep, you’ve guessed it. Triffic!
So, it’s the middle of the night, I’ve watched a couple of bits of TV I downloaded and I’ve given up on trying to sleep……so I’m writing a blog.
With some of our players still representing their countries in Summer tournaments pre-season for 2017/18 approaches. And this will be my first blog covering this annual adventure.
Before all that however, there are an incredible amount of things that have happened since I last wrote shortly after that dizzy crazy May day at Wembley a few weeks back. I thought about writing a ‘concluding’ or ‘season summary’ blog at the time. But to be honest I didn’t come down from that natural high for weeks! Beating Hull was laced with huge relief and the Villa game was arguably the most perfect cup final performance in history (be it against an extremely poor outfit on the day) but this time round topped the lot for me. A dominant, unexpected and deserved victory against the best team in the country gave an emotion that felt well beyond satisfaction.
Ok, it could be viewed as almost ‘tainting’ what overall had been a disappointing season. But I would rather bask in the glory of yet another major trophy being in the cabinet. After all, I look back on the likes of 1979, 1987, 1993 and 1994 for exactly the same reason. Our league campaign in any of those seasons simply doesn’t enter our minds.
The highlights from last season?
With Wembley in May naturally at the very top of the tree and our league form containing that hugely disappointing middle part of the season the majority of my personal favourites are unsurprisingly made up of games/trips in cup competitions.
Chelsea at home springs to mind and I enjoyed the trips to Swansea, West Ham, Southampton, Stoke and that cold Monday night up at the Riverside but for differing reasons I absolutely loved Preston, Southampton and Sutton away in the cup. And then there was the fine win in the semi in April of course.
Champions League wise I have great memories from the group games too. Paris, Halloween in Sofia and Basel all proved thoroughly entertaining. And Mesut’s goal in the latter was a pleasure to behold.
All of the above prove my team still provided me with some great memories to take forward. But that doesn’t hide the fact there were some hugely forgettable moments too. West Brom and Palace away immediately spring to mind as proper lows.
Overall, winning our 13th FA Cup is massively satisfying and something to take into next season as a huge positive. But this squad are far from proving they can go the distance in the biggest one of all. And only a genuine league title challenge will be a step forward.
In other Summer news, our new home kit has been launched, although the word ‘news’ probably doesn’t befit that announcement and we welcome our first new recruit of the Summer in the shape of Sead Kolasinac. Welcome to the best club in the world big man and here’s to a long and successful career with that cannon on your chest.
The fixtures are out of course although they have a pointless feel to them these days as along with waiting for TV to choose their live games our first ever Europa League adventure means the vast majority of our games will end up being moved. The fact 5 of our 6 matches that immediately follow our European dates are away from home is hugely disappointing to all those travelling Gooners based in the south.
And finally, Arsene Wenger ended speculation that was bordering on frenzy by signing a new 2 year deal. And whatever your thoughts on that (and although I fear the following is nothing but a pipe dream) it’s time for all us Gooners to stick together. Arsenal Football Club means the world to each and every one of us. Including our boss. And we all want the same thing. With Mr Wenger signing a new deal it’s time to stand up and support or shut up. At least for 2 years.
And that brings me back to my long, uncomfortable and tedious flight.
The first of our pre-season matches is in near on 3 weeks time. But I have never been to Australia so, like on many occasions previously, I am using our team as the excuse for making it my annual holiday.
Although I will try and bring the trip alive through this blog I am very conscious of the fact all my ramblings surround what it is like being a week in week out travelling fan. So I will do my very best to make sure it is not just a ‘holiday report’!
My descent into Guangzhou has begun. Apparently it’s 98 degrees……not that I will experience that in the departure lounge for my connecting flight.
I need to bid farewell to Snorty McSnortface. Next stop, Melbourne.
Over land and sea.