Thursday, 12 January 2012


A recollection of some of the times when going over the Arsenal is characterised by the act itself.

The pre match meeting in either a crowded pub full of loud and boisterous supporters or better still outside a loud pub on a warm afternoon or evening. As each person arrives the drinks order changes and the equilibrium alter based on half filled pints, empty pints and various other beverages being out of synch. Watches are checked as kick off gets nearer and the anticipation (or sense of impending doom) grows. There was a time when, going over the Arsenal, I never, ever thought we would lose a game. That mindset has changed over the years but I still feel deep down that I am not going to witness a defeat from my seat upstairs at the Emirates.
Pondering whether to partake of half time refreshments is part of the final ‘drinking up’ before heading to the ground; that and the possibility of meeting after the game; who is, who isn’t. Who’s “shooting off” or just stopping for a quick one. These matters take place as the pace quickens and the ground gets closer.

Then you’re through the turnstile and you are really at the game. You take your seats (generally after a quick trip to the toilet) and you see that pitch, those shirts, that team.

Half time can take an eternity to arrive all too soon depending on the performance or pace of the game, and half time always goes too fast. If you go to the toilet again it’s over too soon. If you stay in your seat it’s over too soon and if you go top the bar it’s over far too soon.

The second half has you looking at how long is left and makes you begin to speculate on how this match is going to turn out. Scores from other games filter through as every Tom Dick and Hilary has access to T’internet and the significance of the game you are watching can begin to change.

Hanging on to a lead and the last five minutes seem like an eternity. Searching for that equaliser in the last five minutes and time flies by. Seeking that winner and anxiety permeates the stadium. Get it and everyone’s riding high; there is nothing quite like a late winner. Should the opposition get it then that sinking feeling hits home.
Game over and you’re either floating on air or trudging down the concrete steps. Whatever the case, more often than not a drink seems a good idea so you head off to the agreed meeting place. On a sunny afternoon maybe it’s outside the Che a very short walk away, or perhaps the Chapman for its grimy charm. It could be the Tollington because there’s another game on SKY to watch and you’re peckish for a bit of Thai. Then again it could be The Metro is designated, as a couple of the group need to jump on the tube after a swift pint. Could be the N5 for a walk on the wild side, or a quiet drink in a warm pub with lovely food at The swimmer. Whatever the case a post match meet is a chance for celebration or dissection.
Some have good intentions but stay too long, some stick to their guns, have the requisite pint and head off and some make a night of it. Whatever the case the match day experience is not a manufactured term to summarise expenditure on souvenirs and corporate hospitality, it’s the actual experience of sharing the before, during and after of the game and doing it again and again.
image courtesy Flckr/iscasblogspot

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