How good are the Arsenal memories?

June 24, 2009

Fair enough the future is in our hands as they say, or perhaps it is in the Bosses – Wenger, or the board with the kitty of cash to spend?
The best and worst times all roll into one when you are so passionate about something you love so dearly – especially The Arsenal.

Some of the worst times are when your favourite player eventually retires (insert Bergkamp or your own favourite retiree here) or leaves the club, or the fans favourite leaves – Henry, Vieira, Pires, etc.  Other indifferent and supremely frustrating times are the off-season/transfer window times of the year when there is no football to give you the weekly or bi-weekly fix. I think back to all those testing times in previous years during the off-season and the how the speculation always went into overdrive about Vieira going, or Henry perhaps going and the heartache I felt at that time. Does the press, etc. not realise how much pain and anguish the fans feel during these times of uncertainty?

I was so confident the year that Vieira went that he wouldn’t be going – I recall that he was used in the marketing campaign for the new kit for that new upcoming season and I felt a sense of relief that he would stay – yet the rumours of him leaving continued and sure enough, he was off to Juve! Gone, never to play for The Arsenal again!

I had my old cheese purchase me an Inter Milan kit with Vieira on the back on her last European holiday a couple of years ago whilst in Milan, just so I could have my own slice of memorabilia of the great man! I don’t wear it that often, but it helps me to keep fresh the memories of the big fella – born in Senegal and plays for Arsenal – Vieeeeeeeeirrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa – woaahh! I love that great fans song by the way, a few mates and I still crank it up in the pub every now and then, just to get the juices flowing.

So, inevitably there is also Henry to speak about – the memory bank here is infinite or overflowing so to speak! I’m sure I and you all could list down all our favourite Henry goals and plays and that would probably fill up the rest of the blogs until the end of the new season…what a wonderful Arsenal legend, long may his goal scoring record stand in the history of the clubs record books!
I might just list down a couple of wee memories of mine, not necessarily the best goals, but certainly some of the most enjoyable and memorable recollections I’ve kept in the back of my brain:-

1. 2-1 win against Valencia in the CL QF 1st leg of the 00-01 season. Henry scores the equalising goal to make it 1-1 after Valencia had gone ahead. Ray Parlour bangs in a wonder strike from what seemed like 25-30 yards out at the time – I just looked it up on you-tube before and it surely was – absolute gold my friends! I was the equal drunkest man in London that night – my best mate – Johno – and I were in a pub in Victoria near where he lived at the time and we must have had about 20 pints each in celebration of winning that game and giving us a reasonable chance to progress.

2. 4-2 win against Wigan in the EPL at the end of the 04-05 season – Henry bags a hat-trick in the last ever game at Highbury. He kisses the hallowed turf after slotting his third goal – the penalty kick to seal the 4-2 win. I was in my local pub back in Melbourne, Australia and that game didn’t kick off until 1am our time from memory? There was around 5-6 other Gooner supporters in this pub who I had never met before, they had also brought with them 2 of their poor Spud mates. We seconded 2 TVs as close to each other as possible and all huddled around to simultaneously watch our game and the Spuds vs. West Ham game. What a rollercoaster night of emotions of football that was?! How polarising is football, it brings together all kinds of people with the same passions! By the time we looked doomed to finish 5th and to also lose to Wigan, no sooner we had come back to win our game 4-2 and Benayoun had slotted the winner for the Hammers with only 10 minutes to spare with the prior penalty save of Paul Robinson’s on Sherringham fresh in the Spuds minds. I was the drunkest man in Australia that night – dancing on tables in my local pub at 4am in the morning with a bunch of blokes that I didn’t even know? Glory days!

3. 1-0 win against Man Yoo at Old Trafford in the EPL at the end of the 01-02 season. I lived in Glasgow at the time and was dating a Scottish bird who unfortunately was a scum supporter along with her brother and dad. We all travelled down on the Man United Glasgow Supporters bus to the game. Wait to you hear the rest of this story! Of course the tickets for the game were in the scum supporters section, so I was heading right into the lion’s den so to speak. So afraid was I that I would make a muppet of myself and get thrown out or killed if we scored a goal or that I jumped up from my seat in excitement – I actually wore a Man United strip in order to blend in and feel safe! In the build up to Wiltord’s goal, I made sure to put my hands firmly under my legs so they were strapped down securely. Bang – the goal went in and across the other side of the ground – the Gooner supporters went mad! I simply bowed my head down and kept my arms firmly secured under my legs. I remember yelling in my mind with glee my face nearly exploded from the joy and excitement! After the brief bowing of the head I somehow managed to fire off a quick few photos of the goal celebration by the team without any of the scum supporters around me catching wind. Supreme Glory Days!

4. 7-0 win against Everton in the 2nd last EPL game of the 04-05 season! Dennis Bergkamp – one of my hero’s and probably one of nearly everyone else’s hero’s – scores a goal himself and plays a part in nearly all of the other 6 goals to show everyone why he was considered to be one of the best modern day maestros of his era. I also watched this game in my local pub in Melbourne and revelled in amazement at the skill, technique, tenacity and sublime prowess of the man to dominate that game and many other games prior. I think everyone thought he would retire, however it was probably the fans at that game showing their appreciation of Dennis and the result that managed to allow us 1 more season after that of his grace on the football pitch!

Well there you go, a trip down memory lane of some modern day memories from a bloke born and bred in Australia, but having also lived in the UK and experienced the best football league in the world, first hand! I felt like delving further down into the memory banks and listing down hundreds of other experiences of where I was or how I felt when The Arsenal were playing, but there are way too many as you would all presume.

I’ll be 35 this year; I’ve probably supported the Gooners since 1999, so only 10 years, but 10 good years and some of our glorious times during that period. I lived in the UK for a few years from that time, but before that in Australia football wasn’t a mainstream thing to follow, we called it soccer  and loved our cricket, swimming and Aussie rules football! I luckily think I was destined to support Arsenal, as my best mate – Johno- his old man has supported the team for nearly 40 years, so I have always known of them and wondered a lot when I was a young bloke why his Dad stayed up late at night back in the 80’s to watch this FA cup thing on ABC TV? He also had the scarves from family trips to England in his closet and sticker books and cards of players he had collected. I always remember seeing the crest and the cannon emblem.

For me, I always want to win and it can become all-consuming when you invest such a lot of energy, passion and time into supporting your team, even if you don’t live in the same town, city, state or country of where they play. You feel on such a downer on Monday when you realise you went through the weekend and your team lost! I know we want to win more trophies at The Arsenal and quickly – I want it just as much as the next true supporter. Yet when I reminisce about all the glorious memories of the past 10 years (and also listen to the older supporters muse over the glory years before), I realise how lucky I have been to have been allowed to support such a great team and share it with a good mate and other supporters in the pub, at the game or online. Trophies are the number 1 aim; however, I personally have had immense joy in locking in key occurrences of our great club into my memory banks forever!

Friends on the fringe of following football or supporting, sometimes ask me – which club do you hate the most, or despise or love beating, etc?

Rivalry and history suggests Tottenham of course – and we have the other 3 big clubs as well. It such a hard one! I often get so immersed and passionate in developing an answer to give at the time of asking, when I think of times such as Van Nistelrooy hitting Lehmann’s crossbar with a penalty take allowing us to secure a 0-0 draw and not lose the game. Keown was a man possessed that day! I was so pumped for the draw and hated Man Yoo and Van Nistelrooy so much that day (and every other day before and after)! John Terry shits me as well and it was glory days in the FA Cup replay in 02-03 when he scored at both ends to contribute to us winning the game 3-1 with only 10 men for the last 30 minutes of the game. Henry was hit by a missile thrown from the crowd which made me hate Chelsea even more!

And finally – Liverpool! One of my longest serving senses of disappointment and rivalry comes from the FA Cup final in the 00-01 season when with only around 10 minutes to go, I was so happy and nervous that we would probably win, yet Michael Owen pops up with 2 goals and steals the trophy from under our noses. I’ll never forgive him for that and I love every time we play Liverpool and beat them from that day since! I just wished we could have held on recently for a 4-3 win with the Arshavin extravaganza! A 4-3 result in that game would have kept its memories in the stratosphere for years to come!

Cheers – Evo In Oz..

( from Avenell) ..I hope this is okay…..sorry but it didn’t paste in very well for some reason ..  thanks Evo!!!!

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