By Walter Broeckx
An amazing trip to London once again for the Arsenal Belgium supporters club. When we look at the fixture list at the start of the season we (the board) of our supporters club always take a look at where we could get as many tickets as possible. It is all nice to come and see Arsenal take on Man City or Tottenham or United….but we know that for those matches the tickets are hard to get. So of course we try to get them and we get them but only a handful most of the time. Demand much higher than the tickets available for supporters clubs.
Now from the start the Leicester match was high on our wish list for a group transport. And when we could ask for the tickets it looked to be a very promising match. Leicester the surprise team… this could be a very decisive match. So we were glad to get 12 tickets for this match.
The moving of the date and hour brought some extra problems. Our bus company had to rearrange their bookings and drivers… but in the end of the day they could do it and provide us with the much needed transport.
But the early kick off time had as a result that I had to come out of bed at 3 am. It was raining in Belgium (sounds familiar Andrew?) [it never rained while we were there – Tony] and so the drive up to Ghent where we have our bus starting point was not pleasant. But no traffic on the road is a benefit at that time. All our members were on time so we could leave Ghent at 5 am as planned.
The trip to Calais went smoothly and the closer to the coast we came the better the weather became. Cold but dry. Not much traffic at Calais and the guy from the security check who saw we were Gooners asked us to win this match. Not because he liked Arsenal that much but because he was…a Tottenham supporter. I think the whole North London celebrated our late goal later that day as it kept Tottenham also in a good position and close to the top.
Once in England we drove towards the Emirates without any problem. The sun was shining and London was sleeping. Apart from the stop lights we could drive all the way up to the Emirates without any delay. We came at our parking place as the first bus of the day.
London on a Sunday morning is rather boring. All pubs and shops still closed… and we had foreseen this and had asked our members to take care of something to eat themselves. But well after sitting in the bus for a long while we sure could do with a drink. Luckily we found a coffee bar that was open already on Holloway Road.
Ez and Moss at 183 Holloway Road. We ordered two cappuccinos and 1 americano and a slice of homemade cake with fruit. I must say the portion was rather big and I didn’t need anything after that till the end of the match! And it tasted delicious! Not too dry, with some canella in it not too much but just enough.
The coffee was also excellent and nicely presented with a nice drawing on top. A cannon drawing would have been interesting I think. In the second round I ordered a hot chocolate and that was some hot chocolate… excellent. £2.40 for coffee and hot chocolate. I forget the price of the cake. But whatever it was, it was worth it.
After that we went to the shop, Andrew found us outside the stadium but alas with the strange hour we couldn’t meet Tony this time. We will make up for this when we come back for the Watford match!
About the match I will just talk about the last seconds. The moments before the free kick could be taken is one of those moments that will stay with us for a long time. We all stood on our feet waiting and hoping. We knew it would be now or never. As it took a bit before Monreal recovered from the blow in his face you could feel the tension rising and rising.
I think the religious people called upon their God and prayed for a goal, I wished for a miracle. When looking at the images later on, one can see how Özil was preparing himself for the free kick. He was concentrating on the perfect delivery. I think he kicked the ball a dozen times in his head already knowing it should be perfect over the first defenders but far enough to prevent Schmeichel from coming for it.
When he started his run to the ball it felt as if the Emirates was completely silenced for a split second. Everyone held their breath and when Welbeck glanced the ball past Schmeichel the Emirates erupted completely. My eardrums almost collapsed under the noise some 57.000 Arsenal supporters created. We jumped, we danced, we embraced all and everyone within touching distance from ourselves.
I remember at one time looking up to the roof to make sure that we still had a roof on the Emirates as it might have been blown away from the noise we produced. But it was still there… luckily.
I also noticed that the early leavers… didn’t leave this time. The stadium was still completely filled till the last second of the match. As it should be. The poor soul that did leave early will have rued missing that moment I can imagine.
After the match I even found out that I had somehow ripped my trousers while celebrating the goal. Sorry for those who did see more of my still mostly covered bottom after the match. I had to drape the Arsenal Belgium flag around me to keep it decent though.
A last minute goal makes one hungry. So we just went to the Little Wonder café in front of the Armoury for a quick burger and fries. £8 for the meal including a drink. Fair enough for me but please owner of the Little Wonder café could you please make sure that you get some mayonnaise on the menu in the future. Fries with mayonnaise are so much better than with ketchup. Believe me as I come from the land of the fries (no they are not French! ) and where fries are part of our national meals.
Getting away from the Emirates was not as easy as getting there in the morning. The GPS took us in the direction of Finsbury park and we had to stand in a traffic jam for a while. But once that got sorted out after half an hour we could drive to Folkestone. We used one of the bridges over the Thames this time as the GPS was a smart one that had detected some traffic problems on the shortest way.
We had to take the next train as we were a bit late for the one we had booked but again not much traffic on the shuttle train at that time. And once we came back in Belgium…the rain came back again.
Sometimes we only arrive back at home around 4-5 am but this time I parked my car in front of my house just after 22.15. I could hardly speak as my voice had been gone after that second goal but my wife said I still had the biggest grin on my face. A grin like when I came back last May after winning the FA cup against Aston Villa. I think I still have it now even 2 days later…
- If these referees were doctors they would be killing two patients out of three. The Referee’s Wall of Shame
- Arsenal – Leicester 2-1, the delayed match report
The Untold Books
The latest Untold book is Arsenal: The Long Sleep 1953-1970 with a Foreword by Bob Wilson, available both as a paperback and as a Kindle book from Amazon. Details of this and our previous and forthcoming titles can be found at Arsenal Books on this site.
- 16 February 1889: Woolwich Arsenal beat dreaded local rivals Millwall Rovers but the score is lost to history – a reminder that it was only through joining the League that the club ensured all details of its history were kept.
- 16 February 1907: Tim Coleman’s sole appearance for England. He was one of a number of players who came to Arsenal via Kettering Town – although he first moved to Northampton Town.