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Arsenal 24, Coarse sand grains & small stones 7. Sometimes being there is not enough:

By Tony Attwood

The obvious headline which popped into my head as the final seconds of the game ticked away was “I was there, I was there, I was there”.

By the time we got back to the car the radio was full of people saying, “those who were there could say ‘I was there’.”   This morning when I read Walter’s late night review of the game on this site, I saw that he commented that those of us who made it to the ground, can say, forever more, “I was there.”

How come everyone wants to steal my line?

But I know, I’m lucky.  I have a season ticket, and I have been to quite a few games through my life.  I was there in the north bank, when Tony Adams scored his goal at the end of the season and stood there and held his arms aloft.  It is what his statue is based on.   I was there for the final game of the Unbeaten Season against Leicester – 1-0 down at half time and Henry scored from the spot to save an entire season.  (Vieira got one too so we won, but that day not being beaten was all that mattered.)

I could develop a bit of a list, but I would include some matches that mean a lot to me in part because of my circumstances, as much as because of the game.  Even though many fans will have forgotten such matches I recall them in detail – like the first game of the 49 against Southampton, with the Pires hat trick.  We’d just unexpectedly lost to Leeds 2-3 and our hope of the title had gone and my private life was in turmoil.  The Southampton match lifted me considerably, and that was 42 matches before I realised I was watching the longest unbeaten run in football history in England.

But somehow as it registered that being there last night was another one of those moments I wanted more.  I want the film. Not the film on TV, although that will have to do, but the film from my seat, which provides a superb view of the subs warming up, and is perfectly placed to view the goal Thierry scored in and has Ian, Stefan and I just looking at each other in sheer disbelief.

I doubt that much will be written of Leeds.   The 11 men behind the ball, the 3 defenders on the half way line even when they had a corner; it was negativity of the highest order.

As for the tackling – to call it industrial or agricultural is an insult to those who work in factories or on the land.  I believe their euphemism is “Yorkshire grit”.  Grit – course sand grains and small stones, used to give traction on roads that have become icy.   I think the Leeds style of play gives grit a bad name.  But maybe it is an apt name for their club – coarse sand grains and small stones.

I wonder if many will remember what happened before Henry came on.  He was on the line with Theo waiting his moment, but the ball would not go out of play.  It seemed that minutes went by before Theo could run on with the number 14 on his back, and then our number 12 trotted out.   Within seconds he had his hands in the air looking that look at his midfield to ask why he had not had the ball slipped through to him given that he was in the perfect position to score.  It was ever thus.

227 goals for Arsenal now – not bad.

On the negative side though, perhaps the most frightening thing about what we saw is that Leeds might actually make it back to the top league one day.  Another Bolton, another Blackburn.   Defend, kick, defend, kick.  My newspaper today says they played 4-1-4-1 – it certainly didn’t look like that to me. 10-0-0-0 is more like, with four scampering forwards if they pushed it upfield.

Oh and there was one other oddity.  Our sub goal keeper was Damian Emiliano Martinez, not Almunia as I expected. He is an Argentine who has been with us through the under 18s and has appeared in the Argentine squad as a reserve keeper.   Is that Almunia gone, even as a reserve keeper?
So there it was.  Ian and I were there.  Another match to remember for all time.
.
Thank you Arsenal.

11 comments to Arsenal 24, Coarse sand grains & small stones 7. Sometimes being there is not enough:

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    Great article Tony. When reading it, it felt as if I was there also. Oh what a great invention TV (or Internet) is so even I wasn’t there I still could witness it from a distance.

    I must say I just couldn’t go to bed last night. But I think most Arsenal supporters will have had that buzzing feeling after the game.

    But when finally going to bed I slept the best sleep in my life and when I woke up I had to pinch myself and ask: was it a dream?

    It was a f*cking awesome dream and he best part of it: it was real.

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    Oh and by the way I’m am not one of those “Wenger must buy X or Y or Z”-fans. I leave it up to him to do what he thinks is best.

    But however I just wanted to warn him that maybe if he doesn’t pick up his phone today and phone the New York Red Bulls and tell them: “Now listen tell me how much he costs us till the end of May” I might be getting on his back come March for not having done it. ;-)

    Most of all because I cannot make it to the Emirates before our home game against Newcastle at March 10. :-(

  • avatar Asif

    Well, I was there too – albeit in from of the television and that’s what I told my friend as well that we witnessed a moment that will stay with us for the rest of our lives!

    Teams always tend to defend well against us and we seriously need to improve our game from set plays as well as shooting from outside the D. Ramsey is critical – he needs to start getting his name on the team sheet. Good game by the Ox though…would definitely want to see more of him.

  • avatar Brickfields Gunners

    Ditto , for me too ! I was thinking that (just like the Kennedy
    assisination before) we will all remember just where we were at the moment the King returned home in triumph !
    Me in bed watching without the sound so not to disturb the wife.
    I didn’t quite sleep after that but, like you Walter ,I too was smiling – and still am !

  • avatar DC

    Lovely write-up and a trip down memory-lane Tony!
    Let’s all keep living the dream Walter and hope that the King inspires the young princes to now enter his realm without fear too!

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    I wonder how many TH12 shirts will be sold today (or yesterday evening) ? ;-)

  • avatar Mandy Dodd

    What an event, really wish I was there. His first game but looks like he will lift the players and the fans. If he stays fit, we just need to get the ball to him , he can still finish it would appear.
    I take the point about not giving them hits, but some of the AAA/Spudwankfest forums are a site to behold this morning!
    Class is forever, and hopefully , his form is pretty good at the moment as well.
    As for Almunia, strange he was not there.Picked up on the article RVP went over to him when he broke the club record. Maybe he is just injured or under the weather, if he is gone, I will remember someone who could actually be a good keeper but who nerves sometimes got the better of. That Barca game was up with most GK displays I have seen, even the keepers who on a bi weekly basis seem to come to Arsenal and play the game of their lives!
    On another more sour note, yet another ref who was going to give us nothing and was allowing tackles that put the one by Kompany in the shade. Strange, always thought he used to be fair..ish with us. Maybe he was taken by their Yorks grit..

  • avatar WalterBroeckx

    Mandy Dodd, yes you are right about the tackles at times. There was one tackle that was almost a copy of the Kompany tackle and Clattenburg did nothing. But then again…we have no Rooney to tell the ref what to do.

  • avatar LRV

    Damn repair men choose late yesterday afternoon as the deadline to finish off repair work in my house. As one of them was eager not to miss the match, they sort of rushed the work and left everything in a sort of mess. At the crucial moment, my wife and the grand children came in and started moaning and whinging about the state of things.

    Sadly, they nagged me into missing the most important part of the match as it happened. My son, and his mates who were at the stadium, were screaming down my phone line. He claimed he had just witnesed the most awesome moment of Arsenal season. “You should have come with me and damned the repairs” he shouted.

    Luckily, I could watch and see it afterwards. Even so, I would have loved to have been able to say: “I was there too.”

  • avatar Yommex

    Have you guyz noticed that lately some clearly dubious red cards have been issued to teams playing against Manchester United which would later be rescinded after appeals by these clubs but with the results standing?

  • avatar elkieno

    I recorded the game and watched it in full again after work. Normally for late night games I can’t sleep after we win, but this time had to go to work so was buzzing all day but ut went do slow I had it planned when I got home. Say hi to the mrs, clean kitty litter (she 8 months pregnant) take garbage out, take a shower (sweaty summer in Sydney) then sit down and watch it unmolested as I gave her plenty of warning…
    Nothing stops me from watching my Arsenal play!!!
    Thierry Henry!!!