By Walter Broeckx
You could say that the game against Villa started on December 24 at 4pm. It was the moment the president of our fan club phoned me to say that our member that makes the bookings on the Eurostar trains received the message that our booking had been cancelled.
It was a bit Murphy’s law. The moving of the game from Saturday to Sunday, the troubles one week earlier with the trains… It left us on the waiting list for the Sunday trains but because all the people still waiting for their earlier connections Eurostar decided to cancel all overbookings.
So we had to split up ourselves in different cars and drive to Calais to take a ferry to Dover and from then we would go to London with the new high speed service of the railway.
We managed to get everybody in a car somewhere and we got together in Calais well in time for the boat and we received our game tickets in hand. The see was a bit rough, although I don’t mind that too much as I seem to have sea legs, but other members are not that keen on travelling on boats and we just hoped their stomachs would be ok until Dover.
Fortunately we all got there in one peace and in good health. A little bit later than scheduled because of the strong wind, I think.
Then off the boat and to Dover Priory Station with our cars. We hadn’t much time as the train was departing some 10 minutes later. When leaving the port you had to chose a lane and off course I managed to choose the wrong lane with someone following me. I couldn’t get on the roundabout and had to drive on to the Jubilee road which leads you out of Dover on to the Highway.
After a few miles and breaking a few speed limits, (sorry about that), we were able to turn back to Dover and I managed to stay on the left side of the road and find the way to the station this time. Another apology to the taxi driver at the station … I know I just was one of those Johnny Foreigners driving on the wrong side of the road for some 50 meters.
Free parking – which was helpful – and when we came into the station we could just see our direct train to St. Pancrass leaving the station. What is this all about trains not running on schedule I hear sometimes ? This one was running on time.
So we had an hour to buy our tickets which were also valid on the underground we found out later. Nice arrangement I must say. We even got the group discount for our party of some 28 travelling fans. A nice clean train arrived to bring us to London and it also made it perfect in time. Okay we missed the first train but this all went smooth so far.
In London one of our newcomers had some trouble with getting some cash out. The machine swallowed his card and he even didn’t get his money. Well I used my own card, in another machine, and luckily my card came back out with the money. I hope the guy gets his card back. But this is one small detail in a journey.
We took the underground to the Emirates and the first view on the Emirates… well it is very impressive. The legends forming a circle round the stadium is a great thing. A big round of applause for the person who thought of this because it looks really great.
Because of the delay the Little Wonder cafe had a queue until the penalty spot inside the Emirates so we decided to have a quick look in the Armoury which was over crowded and then went in the stadium. I forgot that subjects that could be used as a weapon are not allowed so I had to give up my deodorant but I still have others and it was almost empty anyway.
The first real highlight of the day came a few minutes later. I had been in touch with Tony with text messages and so we agreed that he would come over to our block 123 to meet. So I got a little bit nervous to meet the biggest and best blogger from Arsenal in person.
Well let me correct this, Tony is not the biggest blogger. He isn’t that big in fact. He’s Arshavin size, like me in fact. So Tony phoned me when he was standing some 3 meters from me standing with our backs to each other.
If I would write scenario’s in films I would arrange it like that. Well Tony is a very nice and friendly person. If you can read between the lines you can know this I think.
Onto the game and we won 3-0. Not a great victory. No it was a great, great, great GREAT victory.
I saw the birth of Tony’s article before my own eyes after the game. We stayed at the Emirates to have another drink and to continue our chat and Tony mentioned that he had the score wrong this time and at that moment I knew that he would make it in to an article and when I came home.. it was there.
In fact I blame myself for our third goal. When Diaby collected the ball I had a vision of him scoring a third and I shouted to my mate sitting next to me: Diaby will score a third (okay I said it in Dutch) and when he actually did seconds later it really felt that I had scored myself. The steward must have had a strange look on his face when I went totally mad after the goal. After all it doesn’t happen every day that you get the feeling you scored yourself at the Emirates.
All good things come to an end and we left each other at the Arsenal underground station where we had to go different ways. Back on the train to Dover and once again it was right on time. We had some 10 minutes to get off the train, and drive to the ferry terminal so we had to run and maybe we broke a few speeding limits, so once again my apologies for this, but we got there in time. You could tell which members of staff were Arsenal fans as well as they were very friendly when they saw our scarves and clothes.
On the boat it was rather funny as there were a few Villa fans on board. We gave them a friendly reception by letting them know which was the greatest team the world has ever seen and for the rest of the trip they tried to avoid us as much as possible. Not that we ever would do any harm to other fans. In fact we know how long the road can be after defeat so we never rub it in too much.
We left the boat and after an hour driving we got a bit hungry and stopped at a petrol station just when our president did the same with his car. And could you imagine who was also in the petrol station…. yes those Villa fans. I think they must have thought they had a nightmare and we gave them our biggest possible smile once again.
The rest of the trip went as smooth as can be in fact and when you look back at it, it was a great day. We won a real top game, I met Tony Attwood, we had laughs and fun with the other fans so it was with a warm and thankful feeling I drove up my cul-de-sac and gave my car its deserved rest.
Walter Broeckx has been a passionate Arsenal follower since 1979 from Flanders, Belgium. For the last couple of years he is the main news reporter for the Arsenal fans in Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg where he produces a daily portion of Arsenal news. His passion for football goes so far that he even is a referee. In the real world he is married, has 4 children including some Gooners, and he works as a civil servant involved in planning permission in a small town.
- Arsenal v the team that will present a giant toothbrush to our captain
- Arsenal squad for Europa League game
- The abuse of female footballers is appalling, but there is a wider context
- Why Arsenal v Glimt might be tougher than the game against Tottenham
- Is the team that passes the most, the team that gets the best results?