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Untold goes on the pitch at the Emirates

By Walter Broeckx, the Untold ref goes on the pitch

What would be the ultimate dream of any Arsenal supporter? Apart from us winning every game and every trophy that is. Well I think most of us would give an arm or a leg to be able to say that they have played a game at the hollowed turf of the Emirates. Not just a game but a game in a competition.

When I was 17 years old when I first travelled to London with my school and when we visited London we came with a few friends to see the Arsenal play. And being 17 years old and kicking against a ball myself in those days one starts to dream. Dreaming of playing on that pitch yourself. Now that would be the ultimate achievement for any young football player and the dream that if one was realistic would never come true.

And the dream was completely over when some idiot came around in one of the next seasons and kicked my leg to pieces. The football dream was over. A strange thing in fact is that after I recovered from my broken leg I never played a game again. When many years later I became a ref and only after becoming a ref I on occasion started playing again. With the team of the refs of our local association. I still remember that in my first game I scored a goal. Just as if those 20 lost years had never existed. And later that season when we played the cup final of the referees cup I came on as a second half substitute our side being 2-1 down. And some 15 minutes later I scored the equaliser to make the score 2-2. We eventually won that final 3-2 and it still is one of my better memories in football.

But back to my dream and maybe a lot of people who have the same dream: playing on the pitch where our heroes do their games. And well the dream will come through for me.

As I am a bit of a board member of the Arsenal Benelux supporters club I also receive the mails from Arsenal to the supporters clubs. And a few weeks ago we received an invitation in which they asked if we (Arsenal Benelux) would like to play in the Arsenal Supporters Trophy. A tournament played between supporters clubs and the most important bit was that it is played in the Emirates.

When I read this mail the dream came back. Okay I must admit that when I was 17 years old I dreamed of playing in Highbury but I will settle for the Emirates. So I immediately launched an appeal to our members if they would want to play together with me and represent the Arsenal Benelux on the Arsenal pitch.

Well we did found our team members, we send in our request to play along and now it is official: Arsenal Benelux (and I) will play on the hollowed turf of the Emirates Stadium.

After having done the Emirates tour last season I got tot in touching distance of stepping on the pitch. But when people tell me I cannot step on it, I will not step on it. So I didn’t.  But next week on Sunday they will not stop me from entering the pitch. No I will be setting foot on it. I think I will know next week Sunday what really went through the head of Neil Armstrong when he put his foot for the first time on the moon. Is this a bit over the top?

Back to earth I would say. But the dream becomes reality now: I will be playing on the Emirates. I will be running around where Theo does his blizzard runs. I will step on the same grass where Cesc produces one of his visionary passes no one else can produce. I will be looking at the angle from where Robin Van Persie scored that stunning goal against Barcelona. I will smell the sweat of the players from past games. I will go and have a look from where Ramsey scored his goals against Manchester United. I will be stepping on the most important grass field of them all: Our pitch.

The trip will be a long one. We come with the car and the shuttle under the Channel. We will drive up to the Emirates and later that night we will return home after the tournament. I think I will be back home around 5 am the next day. But this is for me probably the last opportunity to participate in such an event. When I turn 50+ I think I should stop such things?

If by any chance you want to support our supporters club in our quest for the trophy you can always come around to the Emirates. There will be an entrance open for spectators. I wonder how all those 60.000 will enter with just one entrance open, but that is not my problem. I’m just there to play. Now writing that last sentence just felt cool.

Not that I think we will make a chance to win the tournament. In fact the only thing we want to win is the fact to be able to play on the best pitch in the world. We come over and we will try to play in the way that Arsenal has organised this tournament. In the spirit of friendship between the different Arsenal supporters clubs. Winning games doesn’t really matter. We just want to celebrate the fact that we are all Arsenal supporters given a great opportunity and chance by our club to have such a wonderful evening in the Emirates. As in the old days of the Olympics where it said that “participating is more important than winning. That is the spirit we will try to show.

Now I don’t know if there are Untold readers who also will participate in this supporters tournament. If so make yourself known I would say. Today or on the day. It would be nice meeting you.  But I think that I can be pretty sure when I write this: I will be the first Untold writer who will play on the Emirates pitch. And if not, please don’t put me out of my dream yet.

So Sunday May 29 at 17.00 pm will be one of the biggest moments of my live. I will step on the pitch, not just as a tourist but as a player. I feel some fever coming up. This must be fever pitch. But this fever feels great. I cant wait to come along.

PS: You can expect a review (not of the refs) of our day out on the pitch. Even with pictures!

Untold Arsenal and Arsenal History on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

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Untold Arsenal Index

History of Arsenal with a new series on the Rioch year, and onto the Wenger years.

Making the Arsenal – the book of Arsenal death and rebirth

17 comments to Untold goes on the pitch at the Emirates

  • Nitesh

    LOL !!
    well enoy your day out walter and kick in a few goals for us!!
    😀

  • Gord

    Good luck in the games. I hope that nobody gets hurt (accidents happen), and that they find fair referees. 🙂

    I would also like to say congratulations to the Women’s team for winning the Women’s FA Cup.

  • Griff

    I love reading your blog, I’m from Australia and love arsenal to death. I’m up at 3-4 in the morning to watch my team play. I love the passion you have with your words and hopefully soon I can come to London and enjoy the feeling and atmosphere that comes at an arsenal game. I can only dream just to be at a game, I wish I could be joining you onto the pitch, to be there and experience what it is like to live my dream.

  • Phil

    God help the referee of your games Walter 😛

  • walter

    I promise I will not review the refs Phil. Or if Arsenal films the games and put them on Arsenal Tv Online. 😉 Who knows…

  • Rich_Fryer

    Hope you have a great day out 😀

  • Is this game being shown live? ;-P

    I’m sure a lot of people will love doing a match report for this one. LOL.

    Have fun.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Best of luck ,Walter , hope you have a smashing time .Really envy you !Maybe we can play against each other on the same pitch- only it will have to be a above 50’s ,and 15 mins each half!

  • Chowdhury

    W A L T E R… WALTER WALTER… 🙂
    Go Walter.
    Please do post pics so we can see how the ‘dream’ looks like. 🙂
    Have fun.

  • Naren

    Walter,
    Great news and good luck. Will Tony also be playing?
    Who is the match official for the matches in which match officials play? What if he gets a decision wrong with twenty-two refs on the pitch? God save him.

  • Shard

    Wow..That is brilliant Walter. Score your team a hattrick just to make the day memorable. I’m sure the memory will fade otherwise 🙂 In all seriousness, even though I’m jealous, I view this as just reward for all the hard work you put in for contributing to both the Benelux Supporters site, and Untold Arsenal. Maybe there is justice in this world after all. Good luck mate, and have a great day out.

  • Stevie E

    @shard, Tony did wonder who was reading untold… I’m guessing a call from the boss to make sure the lad who writes for untold from Arsenal Benelux get entry. Well deserved, have a blinder 😉

  • walter

    Maybe next monday on Arsenal.com: new signing for Arsenal.
    Arsenal can confirm that after a try out on Sunday they have bought a new and experienced player. 😉

    Okay don’t know which position I will take but any position is fine with me. Just carrying the bags from the players would be good enough. 🙂

  • GT

    Will see you on the day as I return with defending champions Arsenal Manchester.
    Thankful that this year we won’t be playing in ridiculous heat!

    Conceded only one goal last season on route to the trophy and made three penalty saves in a quarter final shoot out. Considering our goalkeeping problems I’m still waiting for a phone call!

  • WalterBroeckx

    GT, will be nice meeting you then.

    We just come for fun and think we will get beaten by all and everyone. But who cares…. we will be up for 24 hours just to be on the pitch…

    Good luck anyway. Oh and if we should play each other: just let us score one 😉

  • GT

    Will be fun for the different supporters groups navigating the Bank Holiday traffic into London!
    It is a fun day and a brilliant experience. Only used the away changing room last season and they don’t get many comforts!
    Had Martin Keown and Ray Parlour presenting certificates/Trophy last season.
    Think it was around 34 degrees C on the pitch last season so it will feel quite chilly this time round.
    Feels a bit like a cattle market at first. As a word of advice arrive ready to play, as you are basically herded in to register and then through for team photo on pitch…
    Also for anyone coming to watch, my missus and daughter (then 1) were left outside the Emirates for an 30-45 mins after we’d been admitted in seering heat with no toilets open or shelter. Hopefully this will be rectified this season but just a word of warning if you have some friends/family coming with you.

  • GT

    http://www.arsenalmanchester.com/index.php/supporters-tournament

    There are a few pictures there. The website is under revamp at the moment.