By Walter Broeckx
Very soon now I will be singing my own version of an old song. I think it was from Willy Nelson and for those who know it, they will probably sing along very quickly.
It goes like this:
On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is watching football with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again …..
Finally this weekend I will be back on my way to London to see The Arsenal play in the flesh. The last time I came to London was for the FA cup final and that is a sweet memory. Or lots of sweet memories in fact.
We will leave my city Antwerp early in the morning at 7. And the planning is we will be back the next day somewhere between 5 or 6. So just under 24 hours of travelling to see The Arsenal play. And then some people say us overseas supporters are second hand supporters. I know I will be jet lagged for 2 or 3 days after this even if the time difference is only 1 hour by plane. And we even don’t go by plane. But at my age missing a night of sleep counts double. That is what they call getting older I think. [Just you wait to see what the next 15 years brings Walter! – Tony]
One of the reasons why it will be such a long trip is the almighty TV companies. I do have a double feeling about them. Because it is thanks to them that I can watch every second of Arsenal during the season and so I should be thankful for this. But when they move the kick off time to a late kick off or even worse from the weekend to a Monday evening they sure spoil it a bit for us when we have ordered and received tickets.
And as Arsenal is having one of their meetings with the supporters clubs before this match I do have to be there in time to attend the meeting. So I will be exhausted next Sunday and Monday and Tuesday and… But if that is what it takes to see Arsenal play live then we just do it without really hesitating.
And so of course it is with great anticipation that we are coming over. Because a look at the league table makes it clear that a win would put make us top of the league. With the Manchester teams playing each other on Sunday we could be top of the league for 24 hours or…even longer if the result goes our way. It sure would be nice if we could sing that we are top of the league at the final whistle.
We have once again a nice group of supporters coming over. And for a few of them it will be their first visit to Arsenal. A few father-son combinations is always nice to see. As it holds the current and brings the future of Arsenal supporters together with older legs like mine.
And one of our members is a former professional football player who came in the top division in Belgium at the age of 19, then went to an ambitious club and won the league in the second division but a few bad injuries along the line further he had to go to a lower level. So always nice to have someone who has played the game at the highest level (be it in Belgium) in our supporters club. And his son will be on the bus also.
But going to London is not just about seeing the match. It is the whole match day experience that makes it so great to come over. The drive… till you see the stadium again or for the first time for the newcomers. I still remember the first time I saw the Emirates with my own eyes. Now after having seen it more than …(my goodness… I don’t know how many times I have seen it since we moved to the Emirates) … times the first WOW is gone but it still gives you a buzz when you see its roof shining in the sun.
It is also about meeting old friends (sorry Tony and Andrew for calling you old – but you know what I mean). Having a pint (well they are) and me having something like a coke, eating something, chatting about Untold, chatting about the players, who will play, who might be rested, who should play and then agreeing in leaving it up to the Boss to decide as he knows better.
Of course my home is in Belgium near Antwerp but coming to The Arsenal gives me always a feeling of coming home. Not the house-home but the football-home. And to experience that feeling we are willing to go on lengthy bus trips for many, many hours.
In a way it makes no sense to do this if you look at it without having any notion of what it is to being a supporter. You have to be a football supporter to understand it. Outsiders can declare us crazy for doing what we are going to do and they might be right. But for us who feel the love for a football club it is a natural thing to do.
But as the maestro of Dutch football has said (get well soon Johan) each advantage (seeing Arsenal live) has a disadvantage. The big disadvantage will be that I will not be able to write a match report and put it on line shortly after the match. But I promise to make up for it once I get back home and got rid of my possible jetlag. Match report, after thoughts, hell even a catering report is on my mind to make up for having to miss me after the match.
For those other Untolders who are going I hope they also have a great trip and can enjoy Arsenal playing at their best. My supporters club Arsenal Belgium will be there so the team has to produce their best for this match. (and any other match of course)
COYG and hope to see you next Saturday.
Arsenal in the summer – 48 tales from the Pre-Season files including all the Wenger seasons. Here are the latest…
- The Untold Arsenal Banner is now on permanent display inside the Emirates Stadium
- A Memorial to the founders of Arsenal’s Highbury dynasty.
- And we’re on Twitter @UntoldArsenal
The Untold Books
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal