By Walter Broeckx
Well it sure wasn’t the easiest of trips we have ever made to the Emirates. I left my house around 5 in the morning. I got the tickets for the group as that was the most important thing of course. Imagine not getting the tickets at the starting point… Well not that unimaginable in fact.
Because when I drove up to Ghent, our meeting point, I got a phone call from Marcel, our treasurer. The car that he was sitting in with 3 other members to come to Ghent broke down somewhere between Brussels and Ghent. As I was driving from Antwerp to Ghent I couldn’t pick them up as that would make a detour of about one hour. They were waiting for the car assistance but he feared they would not make it in time at the meeting point. Then I suddenly thought: just imagine if Murphy’s law would strike and my car also would break down… No board members, no tickets… that would have been complete and utter disaster.
Lucky my car didn’t do any strange things. So I was in time at the meeting point. Only to find that the bus wasn’t there. We had taken a new bus company for the first time. And with Marcel having problems I thought of what might happen if the bus wouldn’t show? Find 4 or 5 volunteers to drive to London? Thanks to Marcel who had the phone number of the bus driver I tried to call the latter. He didn’t pick up his phone. There I stood in the freezing cold with 19 other members who were all looking at me…. Just as I was about to ask if there were any volunteers just in case my phone rang… the bus driver called that he was one minute away from our meeting point.
Only 5 minutes late… and it was them who had insisted that everyone would be on time so we could leave as planned. No Marcel and his 3 other fellow travellers by then. Just go he told me. And so we left with only 20 members instead of the 24 planned.
So it’s not that easy to travel to London and just the thought of sitting there in the car knowing you would miss the whole trip and match is something that would have driven me crazy. I haven’t talked to Marcel yet but I sure hope he has recovered and so have our other members who missed the match. Driving together is sensible and good for the environment but when that one car breaks down you are in trouble. And lucky I had the tickets in my bag to give to our members…
We drove off feeling a bit down with our thoughts with the members sitting in their car. But for the rest the trip went rather well. Apart from the fact that in Calais the police officer had some trouble in opening the barrier to let us out of France. For a moment we feared we couldn’t enter the UK anymore because of the Brexit. But after a long wait, and after one of the bus drivers trying to find a police officer capable of opening the barrier they found someone who could press the right button.
But after that it all went rather well. Traffic in London was no problem on an early Sunday morning and so we arrived at the Emirates more than 2 hours before the match. The sun was shining and we set up to meet the rest of the Untold gang in the Swimmer. To which you shouldn’t be coming in big numbers anymore as it is getting too crowded by now. Certainly in the winter when it is too cold to sit outside.
I ate half of the lamb roast with Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower, carrots, that Andrew ordered as it was too much for one person to eat. They do serve big portions at the Swimmer (no need to come as it is too crowded now in the winter, come when the weather is warmer, maybe) and I must say that I rather liked it. And now I remember suddenly I forgot to pay you Andrew. Sorry about that. Will make up for it next time we come over.
My new shirt was unveiled and I had the impression Tony was delighted with my latest birthday present. My children bought me a match shirt and on the back of it was apart from my age (55 if you really want to know) the letters printed: “UntoldWalter”. I must say I’m also rather pleased with it and wear it with pride.
The good company of Drew, Andrew and Tony and my brother Eric and another Arsenal Belgium member made that time flew and we had to walk to the stadium to take up our places.
The match itself was a really interesting one. I will deal with the match later on if I can stay awake and find the time. Otherwise you have to wait till the ref review to hear my opinion. But apart from it being a bad thing for anyone with a faint heart it was a well-deserved win in the end.
After the match we had to wait a bit before we could leave our parking space. But Holloway Road was rather empty on our side of the road to my big surprise. So we drove off rather smoothly and apart from the last kilometre before the Blackwall tunnel we didn’t spend a lot of time standing still.
We had a shuttle booked at 22.22 and to our disgust all the trains before (there was 2 earlier trains) but the high vehicle section was completely filled up and we couldn’t get on an earlier train. So our smooth exit from London was wasted and we had to wait more than 2 hours in the terminal.
As a result we arrived on the continent around midnight. And then we drove back to Ghent where we all had to say goodbye to each other. As I had to bring my brother to his house I got home around 3 in the morning. Another almost 24 hours trip was finished.
I went straight to bed and at 6.30 my alarm clock woke me up to go to work. Sometimes it’s hard to be a Gooner… I just try to keep awake at work for now… It was a long day and will be a long one today, but one filled with great memories to cherish.
Arsenal v Burnley
- Steve Bould’s managerial career begins with a victory
- Arsenal v Burnley. The teams, the beach, the factoids
- Arsenal v Burnley: Cheating Ladbrokes, injury news, tactical preview and Arsenal in crisis.
- Arsenal v Burnley Sunday 22 January 2017 – The Match Officials, and news of a promotion
- Arsenal v Burnley: the background stats, Burnley in season 1, and goalscorers in double figures.
- Arsenal and Burnley, the early early news
- Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #15 complete with video evidence
- If TV football audiences really are in terminal decline, as the figures suggest, then what?
- Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek 15 – The bullet points
- Why are statistics such a problem in football? After all, the facts are out there.
From the History Society
- Arsenal players 1936/7, Arsenal crowds in the 30s, and comparisons with earlier years
- April / May 1937: Arsenal slip back and Man City triumph – for the moment
- The Index of articles about Arsenal players throughout history: A to KL to Z
The picture above is of The Untold Arsenal Banner is on permanent display inside the Emirates Stadium