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October 2016
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On the road again: the 23 hours round trip to see Arsenal.

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…

You can find the full index for the Arsenal in the Summer series on the Arsenal History website

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The Untold Books



18 comments to On the road again: the 23 hours round trip to see Arsenal.

  • Kenneth Widmerpool

    Have a great time Walter and still hope you are the lucky mascot for us.Stay safe on the road there and back again.

  • Have a great time Walter – I was planning to be at the game as well, but work commitments and flight availability (from Alderney, Channel Islands) conspired not to let me get there.

  • Nige

    Half yer luck. I waited 30 years and travelled 12,000 miles to see The Arsenal.

  • apo Armani

    Enjoy your experience Walter together with your group at the Emirates – add the decibels – make the difference, and go home safe knowing 3 points stayed home with all of us!!

  • Rantetta

    Safe and happy trip to arsenal Belgium and all supporters, wherever they come from.

    Have a great day.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Yes , Walter , 3 points and a 3-0 score will suit us all fine ! Have a great trip .

  • Menace

    Walter – enjoy the companionship, the match & the journey to & from Arsenal. I will be there as I’m still in UK – will head for the warmth of India mid November.

    I give a friend my ticket while I’m away from the cold winter. As a senior (over 60), I have a freedom pass. That means I travel free to & from the match. I was going to try for a senior season ticket at Arsenal but I was advised not to by a Gooner I met at the Cup Final. He said that many stand up during the game & it is better staying with the seat you have, though it costs £1000 more!

  • Menace

    I forgot the most important thing Walter. You will be going back to Belgium singing ‘We are top of the league!’.

  • Samrat Jha

    have a good trip Walter.
    P.S. is someone else deputising for the match report?

  • Andy Mack

    As you know, the Wenger stadium is awesome at any time but for your travelling ‘Virgins’ the late kick off has a side benefit. Seeing the stadium as the day-light falls.
    As they leave, make sure the newbies turn and take a look at the place.
    That is an Iconic sight.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin.

    Mr Broeckx, have a safe to & fro journey to Arsenal and Belgium. And also have a happy and joyful meetings and outing at the Emirates Stadium. Does it takes that long to fly from Belgium to England which will you suffer a 3 day jetlag? From Northern Nigeria city of Kano, it’s been said it takes only 6 hours flight to London. And that’s cross Atlantic flight.

  • Harshil

    Have a nice trip. Looking at the article i just realized how much i want to experience the Emirates. I have been a supporter only for 5 years but have watched almost 90% of matches since then and that is a big no of matches in itself. I have seen the current team actually getting together infront of me. I remember Newcastle United vs Arsenal 4-4 was my first game when we were 2nd in the league and could have won it but then in the end injuries derailed everything. Since then everything has changed, almost the whole team is fresh and new.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin.

    Mr W. Broeckx, after reading your article again, it dawned on me you are talking of road travellag and not jetlag. Waoh! 23 hours on the road is quiet a long journey to do. Are coming by public transport or private one? And if it’s private, are you going to be drove by a driver? Why am I asking? Nothing. Just human curiosity.

  • Rich

    Enjoy Walter. That piece you wrote yesterday was brilliant, by the way. So much is written on here it’s hard to keep track of what’s what but I made sure to favourite that one.

    Now…Everton. I was someone who hoped but did not actually believe we were very likely to win the league two seasons ago, and the Everton fixture ended up having special meaning for me.

    When Ozil scored I had a real moment- I thought ‘hang on, maybe this can be the year’, and had a sensationally good feeling at that instant- so it was uniquely crushing when we conceded late on.

    We surely have a better team at this point, and with the momentum we have from recent performances, backing that up with another good one will, well, I think I might really get the feeling that it’s on.

    Anyway, enjoy. If my fears about Mason prove true, though there can be no silver lining to that, it will be good to have an expert witness to events.

  • Jambug


    “Anyway, enjoy. If my fears about Mason prove true, though there can be no silver lining to that, it will be good to have an expert witness to events.”

    I am dreading this weekend. As we suggested, as far as I have seen there hasn’t been a word uttered about the possible implications to Arsenal of this refereeing appointment. In fact quite the reverse.

    This from ‘You are the’

    If you remember from the other day this is the site that purports itself to be,

    “The Only Independent and Credible Refereeing Portal”

    This is there ref preview for the weekend:

    “Lee Mason: Arsenal v Everton
    Assistants: S. Beck and A. Garratt
    Fourth official: A. Taylor

    Can Roberto Martinez be happy about the appointment of an official who Crystal Palace fans dubbed ‘Arsenal’s signing of the season?’

    The official was in a charitable mood and was heavily criticised for his failure to send off Francis Coquelin for some crude challenges.

    Mason’s fitness has been in question for some while, and with a fast-paced game expected, can he keep up with the play to ensure fair play?”

    So there you have it.

    Apparently he was ‘charitable’ to us at Palace. Why?

    Oh because apparently Coquelin put in ‘SOME’ crude challenges. Did he?

    Well in actual fact just FOUR fouls in total, of which, at most, only ONE can be called crude.

    But alas this ‘Portal’ just wants to tow line.

    No critique of what actually happened. Just following the herd.

    Not a word about the pressure he will be under to NOT give Arsenal a thing.

    Not a word about the Masons ban itself at all in fact.

    Nope, unbelievably it’s Everton that have got to worry about Mason.

    You couldn’t make it up.

  • porter

    Have a good trip , I will be meeting a group from Norway before the match for my 1 drink , not after because of my 140 mile drive back home which seems to pall into insignificance to some of the trips others make.

  • hrishi

    Enjoy your trip, Walter! We weren’t too bad during your last visit- I don’t mind being half as good tomorrow!

  • Gooner Murphy

    Walter & Friends

    Enjoy your visit to the Arsenal, safe journey hope you see lot’s of goals for the Gunners.