Everyone has their dark secrets, some of which are buried very deep and best left there.
It is only since I discovered Bergkampesque that I have managed to search my inner self and analyse my problem. Sure I tried other blogs, but none of them made me feel at home. Some of the blogs are so clique, you just get ignored. Some are downright hostile. I once suggested Arshavin was a lazy sod and nearly got lynched.
Then Bergkampesque: a friendly, knowledgeable, sometimes odd collection of Gooners who made me feel at home from day one, and even threw in free Dutch lessons. They even let me lead the UMF league for a week after I managed max points; some even said they would follow me, but week two ended in zero.
Anyway, enough of this pre-amble and back to my sad secret: I have supported Arsenal for over 50 years. At school, I was surrounded by hordes of glory hunting Manchester United fans. There were about three of us and thousands of them and we hadn’t won anything in years. Still, in a school set in rural Lancashire, you would expect this mix of fans. But hold on, I went to School in South East London. Technically, Palace, Millwall and Charlton territory. But my Dad was a lifelong Arsenal fan, so it was genetic.
In 1966 Arsenal sacked Billy Wright and we all waited for a big name replacement. No foreign managers then, so Arsenal decided to appoint their physio, Bertie Mee. The physio??!! We hadn’t won anything for years and we appoint the physio? But with Don Howe as his able assistant, things picked up.
A team that hadn’t won anything for years suddenly began to show form. Maybe we could actually win something.
Sorry, rambling again. During the 50 plus years I have attended literally hundreds of games, mainly at Highbury, a good number of away games and a sprinkling of Cup Finals. Prior to the latter years at Highbury, no one on the terraces had season tickets, you just turned up and paid.
Below is my list of some of the important games I have attended:
1968 League Cup Final Wembley.
Leeds United – lost 1 – 0.
Possibly the dirtiest team I have ever seen, Jack Charlton flattened the Arsenal keeper at a corner and Terry Cooper rifled the winner home. My first visit to Wembley.
1969 League Cup Final Wembley
Swindon Town lost 3 – 1 AET
This was it Swindon Town from the old 3rd division against the mighty Gunners. This was going to be a walkover. My Dad had once again got two tickets and once again we set off to cheer on our beloved team. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until we reached the game that we realised we had Swindon tickets. It didn’t really matter though because Arsenal fans didn’t have a lot to cheer about. Three main factors for our downfall that day were:
1) The pitch. Take a look at the the clip below, and remember this is Wembley.
2) Don Rogers, a Swindon legend along with 10 other country bumpkins played their socks off.
3) Ian Ure, who my Dad thought was great, but I always thought was a little clumsy, didn’t have his best game. Although Bobby Gould equalised in the last minute, we went on to lose 3 -1. Wasn’t a lot of fun going back to School after that .
1971 Winning the league at White Hart Lane – Spurs 0 Arsenal 1
Last game of the season: we needed to draw 0 – 0 or win to win the league. A real nail-biter, but the lads did really well. Then in the final minutes a young Ray Kennedy rose and headed Arsenal ahead. Not necessarily a good thing. We were cruising to the 0 – 0 we needed; now we had upset the Spuds even more. Referees didn’t advertise how much added time back then, and those few minutes seemed like hours. But I and thousands of other Gunners were soon celebrating in the streets of Spudland.
I also had a cup final ticket that year. Unfortunately, it was a single Scouse ticket. No way Pedro.
1980 FA Cup Final
V West Ham Wembley – lost 1- 0
Surely, my first Wembley Victory against 2nd Division West Ham. A truly forgettable game. In fact, I can only remember two events. Trevor Brooking scored the winning goal with a header. Although many of us felt that it rebounded off his head. Then, in the final moments, a young Hammer broke through on goal. This was history in the making: if he scored he would be the youngest goal scorer in Cup Final history. Then, a moment that has been called ‘a game changing moment in British football’. The Arsenal centre back Willie Young not known for his delicate touch, scythed Paul Allen down and was only booked for his trouble. After collecting his winners medal, Allen burst into tears: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKemltpQMgA
The list goes on. I was at Wembley when Gazza scored that free kick. I was also there when we lost the League cup final (I always forget what it’s called these days) to Chelsea.
By now you may have noticed a trend.
Other than the Spurs game, every trophy winning game I have ever attended has ended in defeat. Hang on a moment though, I was shut out at Spurs and listened to the game on a tranny radio.
So my problem, in over 50 years of supporting Arsenal I have never physically seen them win anything. Not a sausage!
If by any chance we reach the champions league final though…. anyone got a spare ticket? 🙂
Written by: Retsub.