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Thank you Arsenal

By Walter Broeckx

Not really the match report as you are used to getting from me after a game. That will be for later. When I get the time to review the match from the comfort of my sofa and enjoy the events on the pitch as they unfolded in front of our eyes. Because sometimes football is more than what is happening on the field. And this was the case for me last Sunday.  So this is a more personal article. But very much related to Arsenal.

As most of our regular readers know my wife is suffering from the results of being bitten by a tick. As a result she can not walk for let us say more than 20-30 meters. In our house she usually can walk on her own for the first half of the day but then she has to use her crutches most of the time. So when last season I had the crazy idea in my head that maybe I could take her over to one of our supporters club trips it was just crazy. My wife doesn’t like football. Never has and probably never will. But never say never.

So when the members of our supporters club voted me as their president last summer my wife became also a member of our club and I had the idea of her coming over to Arsenal in my head, but I didn’t mention it to her.

And because of her disease my wife is having some form of house arrest. She cannot go out on her own any more. The only way to go out is when I or one of my children take her out. For any person from any age this is terrible but for someone who is just over 50 and trying to imagine it happening to me seems unbearable.

So with our supporters club getting tickets for the match against Aston Villa I thought this is the time to brighten up her winter. I asked Arsenal and the person who is the liaison officer for the supporters clubs if we as a supporters club can also order tickets in the disabled section. When I got an affirmative answer I asked her the question: do you want to come along?  And she had no hesitation and said that she would do it. A first great moment for me. I let Mark Brindle know that we would like to have a ticket for my wife and he got us in touch with  the people who take care for the disabled supporters. Thank you Mark.

The people from the disabled sections were very kind and helpful and after filling in the request I was informed within days that the tickets for my wife and for me as the person assisting her were granted. A great moment for both of us. Thank you so much people from the disabled section.

So we came over, had a nice and easy trip to the Emirates. We had the chance to see the players from close at hand as they got off the coach to enter the stadium, and the biggest roar the group gathered there was when Wenger walked to the stadium. That sounded like music in my ears.

We then entered the stadium using the ramp that is built for wheel chair users and that is build in a great way so that people pushing the wheel chair don’t have to push the whole time but by varying the angle it goes remarkably easy.  This also helps when going down again by the way. Really important and you can see that they have thought about such things. Thank you planners and builders for this.

As we had tickets for the lower tier my wife wanted to see how it looked from the upper tier. And there are many lifts in the Emirates where wheel chair users can go up and down. We had a look and the people who are responsible for the area immediately rushed on to see if they could help us. They really gave us the feeling that there are there to help you. As we explained we had just gone up to have a look they told us that in case the last person who usually came late wouldn’t arrive we could use the space but we didn’t want to go that far. Luckily as we later found out.

We then went down again to our block 7 which we had to enter from the entrance from block 8 but that is just a small detail. And there we found a place between the other wheel chair users. Right behind Blacksheep even though I couldn’t spot him between the crowd during the match. Again everyone being very kind to us and everyone trying to be helpful for the other people in that section.

The match itself was one big party. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Wenger had read Untold or had been informed by the people from Arsenal who read Untold that my wife was having her first match at the Emirates. So they put up a nice show for her. My wife clapped when needed, my wife celebrated the goals from Arsenal, even the disallowed goal. My wife was really enjoying the match and she wasn’t bored for a minute.

After the match she said that she now really could see and understand what it meant to me. Something that I hoped to share with her and that I now did. When we got home she even wanted to see the highlights of MOTD to stay in the mood. My fellow Arsenal Belgium supporters told her that she had to come with us next time as she was bringing good luck to the team. She probably will not as it really is very tough for her and she will get a bit of a set back from the exhausting trip in the next days but that was a price she really wanted to pay for this time.  And every one we had seen on the day was so great to her that it was as if she was a special guest of this day.

My moment of the Day (MOTD also) was however at half time. Something that she said and that most people wouldn’t notice. But it meant a lot to me and touched me. At half time I asked her if I could bring her anything to drink: a coffee? A cappuccino? (Maybe they do serve them in the lower tier Tony?). But no she didn’t need anything. But  as she had just seen that great safe from Oooooospina at the end of the first half she turned to me and said to me : “WE have a great keeper”. I must say she said it in Dutch of course but the word for me was : WE. It was not:  you  have a great keeper. It was not:  Arsenal have a great keeper. No, it was WE. And that really was giving me a real great feeling.  And it touched me.

So now she knows what its like to go to Arsenal, to experience it inside the stadium. She enjoyed it and knows the joy it brings to supporters.

Of course all this wouldn’t have been possible without the people I have already mentioned in this article. But of course the people who brought that great rousing feeling you get when your team has just won a great game of football in a very convincing way helped the most to the great feeling of happiness.

So thank you players and managers from Arsenal for making this match one of the best we have seen live  this season. You have made our day and turned it in to a very special day.

Thank you Arsenal for the whole experience! What a match, what a day! A day to remember for the rest of our lives together.

The books

All today’s anniversaries are on the home page

55 comments to Thank you Arsenal

  • john

    Thank you, Walter for this article. It conveys the true emotion of a great occasion for you both/

  • brian

    I’m glad your wife got to experience the atmosphere at the Emirates

  • blacksheep63

    It was lovely to see you both Walter and I’m really pleased you had such a good day together. I saw you during the game and waived frantically on several occasions but you were (understandably) engrossed in the experience. I am proud that the club treated you both so well and I wondered if anyone noticed that on Sunday they supported the LGBT group too; it is statements and actions like this that set Arsenal apart from many other clubs. It was lovely to meet Carine and I hope she gets to come again one day, at least she better understands your love for a football team hundreds of miles from your home.

    dank u voor een heerlijk lezen!

  • Va Cong

    That was very heart warming Walter! It has made my day! And I’m having a great day already! 😀

  • double canister

    That’s a lovely story Walter.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    All the best to your wife Walter, and glad she had a good time and and if shes a lucky mascot may she go to all the games,(or watch them live)what a what first experience she had!Erm, can we get her to the Spurs game?

    On another subject, Poldi’s getting a roasting for being a lazy sod in Italy and is being subbed for not pulling his finger out, the word is he should have stayed in England! ha-ah!
    COYG!

  • Hisham Hashim

    Oh Walter, what a touching story. So glad that Mrs. B has been “converted” and I can truly agree with your sentiments. My own wife was recently converted as a Gooner too and we spent many an evening before retiring for the day discussing the many aspects relating to the Arsenal. May God bless you and Mrs. B.

  • zie

    what touching story thanks Walter get wll soon to your wife always a Gunner COYG!!!!!!

  • Tjekem

    Walter,
    Thanks for that wonderful love story. Very emotional.

  • Walter

    Dank u wel !

    Not all football supporters are morons and you could not have written a better piece to illustrate it

    Again, dank u wel !

  • You my friend are a lucky man. To have the good sense to marry a woman who would follow you to a game of football in her condition is beyond luck imo. Am glad we won convincingly on Sunday. Am also glad Mrs B had a good time. Well, what else can I say? Good article, man. Good post. Well done.

  • mick winnett

    I brought my wife to see us play Luton at Wembley, but after that I thought i’d leave her at home :0 Sorry to hear about your wifes medical problems? sounds like possibly Lymes disease? if so please be aware that there are lots of possible long-term effects, hope she recovers soon.

  • Joseph Ssenkasi

    Great moment Walter, and thank you to be close to your wife ever
    Great to support arsenal lads,looking forward to win more game convincingly

  • rantetta

    Walter and Mrs B

    I’ve been impatient whilst waiting for this article. Never mind that you had to travel across different countries with a group of supporters, in order to see the match, and then travel home and get back to work, I’d spent many days wondering exactly how Mrs B would experience this first trip to the Ems.

    What you’ve written answers the questions in my head. But it’s even better than that, because, as you’ve reported, Mrs B didn’t appear to be an avid footy fan, yet thoroughly enjoyed her experience. I don’t know if I have the right to feel so incredibly happy about that, but I really do.

    Blacksheep’s article included some photos and I loved seeing you all. Your description of the cheers for Mr Wenger (in the car park) was lovely.
    I’m tickled by the fact Mrs B watched MOTD highlights. To me, this means Mrs B has long been a closet Arsenal fan.

    I was at the Ems the last time we played Aston Taylor, and so I’d previously worried what sort of game Mrs B would see. My worries weren’t needed.
    As always, you, Mrs B and your group brought good luck. Not only a nice game with lots of goals, but no broken Arsenal bones.

    Thank you so much for this piece, and I look forward to other reports from you about this match.

    Thank you for coming to London, Mrs B. I pray you have no aftermath to this long trip, other than a warm feeling relating to your inaugural Arsenal experience.

    Come on Mrs Broeckx!

  • Congratulation Mr & Mrs Walter.
    Reading this almost brought cry of joy 4rm my eyes nd it warm my heart to know that so many things fell into place on a special day like dis.
    So on behalf or the Walters Family I say BIG BIG BIG BIG thank you to the Manager, Staffs nd Players for Winning the Match nd ooooooooospina for winning Us a New FAN.
    Wishing our latest Fan( January Biggest Transfer). Also wishing Mrs Walter good health nd miraculously Recovery.

  • Vintage Gooner

    Thanks for this great post Walter. I am pleased the team put on a real Arsenal show for you both. And congratulations to the club for being so caring and helpful. I very much hope your wife has not suffered too many consequences from what will have been a very tiring day with all the travelling. Do give her our best regards and tell her she is in our thoughts.

    By the way did your coach park just north of the railway arches past the Armoury roundabout? I saw a small (16-24 seats) coach with Belgian number plates on my way to the match and immediately thought of you and your wife and the Belgian supporters club who travel so far.

    Best wishes to you and your wife and all the 100+ colleagues in your fine club.

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    Walter,
    This brought tears to my eyes. The AKB fan’s left eye and the physician’s right eye .
    I happen to have trained in Connecticut, where the city of Lyme happens to be located.
    I am hoping for significant and steady improvement in Mrs. B’s condition. Update us!!!

  • Thank you Walter – and I’m so glad that it was such a great day for you and the inspirational Mrs Broeckx. I was watching on Sky TV and saw Mesut Ozil stop to donate his shirt after the match – and for a moment hoped against hope that it was to your wife. I wonder if she has a favourite player?

  • Gord

    I’m glad you and your wife enjoyed the trip and the game Walter.

    Apparently the bacteria from the gut of the tick that causes Lyme disease has been sequenced.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borrelia_burgdorferi

    That Wikipedia article links to a larger article on Lyme disease itself. There have been a couple of attempts at vaccines, hopefully there will be more success soon, as it looks like they are starting to get a handle on the autoimune part of this.

  • Menace

    Walter & Carine – God loves you & so does Arsenal. Five goals to celebrate your visit together to the Wenger Stadium. The WE brought tears to my eyes. It is really sweet.

    Love to you from Dahanu India.

  • rantetta

    Walter & Carine

    May I (we) offer a ‘lump in the throat’ moment.
    Bobby McFerrin:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=14LcvpXmb74

  • Kaius

    It’s a pleasure to read about sport/football/Arsenal in this context, what it means to the individual and their loved ones and ultimately how it can be such a unifying force. May the Arsenal continue to bring some light into the lives of both your wife and yourself Walter. And what a game to observe live, think your stars were aligned on that one!

  • Walter

    Thanks for all your kind comments. Thuis is what Untold Arsenal has become. A warm place for Gooners with a good hart.

    On a different note I’m typing this while my wife is having eye surgery not related to lyme disease. Coming back to earth with a bang.

  • Jerry

    @Walter,

    Excellent write up and glad that you and your wife were able to have a great time! Wish you guys the best and will pray for your wife’s health.

  • jake

    thank you for the heartfelt article

    best of luck for your wife’s sugery

  • Walter

    Surgery went well! Heading back home soon.

  • Gf60

    Heart warming article Walter, Thanks and all best to Mrs B.

  • Sam

    Great article, very touching. And you’re very lucky, Walter. I tried to turn my wife into a football and Arsenal fan (she is interested I neither) and even took her to watch an Emirates cup game. She now pretends to support Spurs just to spite me! haha!

  • Marcel

    Walter,
    As our supporters’ club treasurer I would like to say that, and I am certain that I can speak on behalf of all of Arsenal Belgium present at the Aston Villa game, the whole club enjoyed Carine coming with us. It is quite astonishing to read in your post that she does not like football. Because, when we were on our way back, I asked her “did you enjoy your day?” and her “Yes, I did” came from the bottom of her heart, so much was clear to me. And her saying “WE have a great keeper”, yes indeed that is touching, and heart-warming. And it’s so good to read about all the attention and the help that you got from the staff of the club before, during and after the game. This is The Arsenal. It shows that the words “one big family” on the website are not just words. It just shows how wonderful a club The Arsenal really are. Proud to be The Arsenal, proud to be gooners!

  • Antarry

    great article walter, one of its kind, pure emotional….i hope you’ll keep these article on your archive….many thanks for sharing your heartfelt experience with us..many thanks once again.

  • omgarsenal

    I know that you both are aware that your family and especially Carine are in our prayers and thoughts everyday…..and hopefully she will continue to bring good luck to the Arsenal, regardless of whether she is at the Emirates or just watching on TV. Be careful Walter, as i detect a very strong and growing passion for the club from her, she’ll soon outstrip you as a Gooner! Carine, je vous souhait un récuperation rapide et permanent!

  • Pete

    Hate to put a dampener on a wonderful thread (so glad you and your wife enjoyed Sunday – and trust the eye surgery today went as planned, Walter?) but it looks like we have Martin Atkinson on Saturday. Oh dear. We all know he loves Chelsea – but what about the Totts?

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Pete, I’ve finished the ref preview, it will be with Tony tomorrow and probably on the site on Friday. Atkinson is never good news but rarely deadly except against Chelsea. We are bound to get him for the Chavs though.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Walter, give Carine a special hug from all at Untold.

  • Gord

    Here’s the rest of the appointments. Chelsea/AVilla is PP

    Saturday 7 February 2015
    K.O. MATCHES REFEREE ASST. REF. 1 ASST. REF. 2 4TH OFFICIAL
    15:00 Aston Villa – Chelsea – – – –
    17:30 Everton – Liverpool Anthony Taylor G Beswick D Cann M Oliver
    15:00 Leicester – Crystal Palace Lee Mason D England S Bennett P Bankes
    15:00 Man City – Hull Jonathan Moss S Long A Holmes R Madley
    15:00 QPR – Southampton Roger East R West M Scholes D Coote
    12:45 Spurs – Arsenal Martin Atkinson S Child H Lennard A Marriner
    15:00 Swansea – Sunderland Phil Dowd D Bryan M Perry J Adcock
    Sunday 8 February 2015
    12:00 Burnley – West Brom Mike Dean S Burt L Betts M Oliver
    14:05 Newcastle – Stoke Chris Foy M Mullarkey I Hussin R Madley
    16:15 West Ham – Man Utd Mark Clattenburg S Beck J Collin A Marriner

  • Jerry

    @Gord,

    Chelsea vs Aston Villa looks to be Graham Scott
    http://www.premierleague.com/content/premierleague/en-gb/referees.html

  • Gord

    It was all blank what I copied, but I had seen some game involving Chelsea which was PP, and I assumed it was Villa. Turns out it is Leicester at the end of February. Darned brain, can’t remember everything.

  • nicky

    Walter,
    As one of your oldest readers, I have long remembered Carine in thoughts and prayers after the cruel reason for her illness.
    Medical research will eventually find a cure, no doubt about that, but in the meantime a prayer or two from each of those who claim to be your friend, wouldn’t do any harm at all.

  • Will

    Brilliant piece, evocative and well put and best of all, we have another Gooner.

  • bjtgooner

    Walter, I am so happy that you and your good wife had such an enjoyable day. I do hope and pray her condition will be improved.

  • I have been married for 47 years and my wife hates anything to d with football. I have followed Arsenal for 60 years and apart from my family, they are my life. How I envy you and this story, but I think this sums up being a Arsenal fan completely. So pleased for you and yours. On a seperate item, I have just e-mailed “talk Sport” regarding that idiot Adrian Durham. I have stopped listtening to this station because of him and his crusade against everything Arsenal. His latest tirade is about Alexix and how he will leave if we dont win the champions league (Website). I urge all true Gooners to stop supporting this station and sending in a e-mail stating the reason why.This bully boy should not be allowed to broadcast his vile poison against our club, manager and supporters.

  • Great read Walter and it’s nice to know that Mrs Broeckx didn’t only had a good time but that it was so good that she might have been converted in the process. I don’t know if any Gooner husband can wish for more. Mrs Bootoomee isn’t crazy about football either but she shows enough interest in Arsenal (probably) for the sake of me and our girls who are fast becoming red blooded Gooners (to my absolute delight, I must say).

    Kindest regards to Mrs Broeckx and I wish her all the best with her health and everything else.

  • Strus

    It was a great game for many.
    Last season after 22 such fixtures, Arsenal had
    43 pts, 38-33 F/A 9 CS
    now
    42 pts 44-25 F/A 8 CS
    Arsenal can repeat and ever better their total points from last year, which was seamed impossible after first 12 games.

  • Omsin_The_Legend

    Wonderful article and well written. I read untold every day, and enjoy the articles, it will be very wrong of me not to comment as this is what it is all about. Best of luck to you and yours

  • Ando

    That’s a wonderful post, Walter for so many reasons. Thank you for sharing such personal experiences with us, I feel privileged to be included in this way. I wish you and your wife many happy (& successful!) years of supporting the Gunners together. Best wishes to you both.

  • Sukebe

    Glass up…. 🙂

  • Arvind

    Thanks for this post Walter. As I said on a previous thread – I am so glad we did not lose that day. And we won 5-0. Cant ask for anything better. All the best to you both 🙂

  • gouresh

    Lovely article. Great to see that you all had a great time. I liked Especially the “we”! My wife did not like football but now she says “we lost” or “we won”. Unless they experience it first hand they never understand what it means to follow a football with passion.

  • Menace

    Gord for the Chelski match officials you could have just filled in
    J Mourinho, J Mourinho, J Mourinho, J Mourinho. He is capable of doing it all 😉 .

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Thanks for this great article ,Walter , glad you all had a great time at the Arsenal .
    Our get well soon wishes to the missus . Like many of the regulars , you got me at the “we ” moment !
    Please try to make to the Chelski game too !

  • Damilare

    Thanks Walter for this article. The ‘WE’ got me to tears. I felt so good for you and Mrs B. I pray for her total recovery in Jesus name.

    @nicky

    February 3, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Walter,
    As one of your oldest readers, I have long remembered Carine in thoughts and prayers after the cruel reason for her illness.
    Medical research will eventually find a cure, no doubt about that, but in the meantime a prayer or two from each of those who claim to be your friend, wouldn’t do any harm at all.
    LIKE LIKE LIKE.

  • Gooner S

    Glad you had a great experience and I hope Mrs B recovers to full fitness and good health.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thanks again for the nice words.

    A few answers to questions that were asked but don’t have time to find the person who put the question:

    Yes our bus was parked on Hornsey road north of the railway bridge.

    And yes she has a very serious form of Lyme disease

    The eye surgery went well yesterday.

    It still was a great day! 😉

  • Quincy

    😀 😀 Great to hear. Best wishes to you and your wife.

  • indiangooner

    Dear Walter,
    I have enjoyed this website for quite some time now, though this is my first post. ‘We’ really played beautifully.
    Wish your wife all the very best in her recovery and kudos to the untold team for an excellent job