The Untold Arsenal pre-match pub restaurant review
‘Oh when the Saints…’: Arsenal vs Southampton
This was always going to be an interesting day. After all it was the first time I had had to opportunity to introduce the Twins to Tony and they were very excited (on top of being over excited about their first game of the season).
It didn’t start particularly well. We were halfway between Northampton and Milton Keynes when Curtis informed me that he had forgotten the junior gunners memberships. This is the second time he’s done this and I had phoned and texted him in the last few days to remind him. I was not impressed and said so.
Tony on the other hand was much more understanding and won himself an instant place in the teenager’s affections (‘Tony is a legend’ he later told his mother). In the end the box office outside the Armoury sorted us out with paper tickets (I had sensibly brought with me an email print out of the booking) so no harm done. And thanks Tony, for the calm explanation of what to do and for smoothing things over.
Next stop Finchley Central and the southbound Northern line. This is very much my ritual. I like the feeling of standing on the platform on match days – its takes me right back to being 15 myself (the twins’ age) and setting off with one or two mates to stand on the North Bank at Highbury.
Making the same journey with my stepchildren makes me feel old but is also a very good feeling. We got abused by some spuds as we waited for the Bank train but nothing worse than a few deluded chants. Half an hour later we had reached our first destination: La Pasta at Highbury& Islington.
This is Charlie’s choice. Curtis is pretty happy eating anywhere so long as there is pop to drink, Charlie is much more interested in her food.
La Pasta on match days is a great little Italian. The waitresses are kitted out in Arsenal ladies’ shirts (La Pasta on the back, naturally) and all the tables are full (I made the wise decision to book in advance). The atmosphere is loud,TV in the corner showing the early k/o (Canaries vs Hammers), and a nice mix of Gooners and opposition fans.
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I know what the twins will order but we go through the motions of looking at the menu anyway. La Pasta provides a standard spread of Italian food. Pizzas, pasta and salads. We always plump for pizzas and these are pretty good and start at about £6 for a Margherita. Charlie adds chicken and bacon, her twin always opts for bacon and extra cheese.
I went for a Napolitano because I love the saltiness of the anchovies and capers. I’d eaten here in the summer with a friend and the place was dead and the pizza nothing like as good so perhaps the oven works better when they are busy. Tony copied me (“legends” do that sometimes).
We sat near a small cohort of Saints’ fans, most of whom were wearing their new home strip.
Now I’m aware that there have been grumblings about the new Arsenal home shirt – Tony and I attended the AISA meeting on Monday where Tom Fox fielded questions about it and the purple away jersey – but I have to say Southampton are doing their fans no favours with this one.
I’d like to know what Saints’ supporters think but I thought they played in red and white stripes. This effort is red with white pin stripes – it makes them look like Middlesborough or Forest! I was, however, amused by the chap with Mr. Grey 50 on his large shirt though, nice homage to the summer’s best selling erotic novel!
Pizzas were washed down with Peroni (on draft or in bottles) and the service was quick. We sat down at 1.40 and had eaten and paid by 2.15 leaving plenty of time for the walk down the Holloway Road. The twins were in the Clock End – almost opposite my own position in the North Bank lower and so I rang Charlie to check they had got in ok. She was a bit grumpy because they were sat behind the temporary goal. All that changed of course with the four-goal salvo in the first half. Afterwards they were buzzing!
All in all a very good day out. Nice meal, Tony signed my copy of Woolwich Arsenal FC 1895-1915: the club that changed football, and of course we thrashed the saints.
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