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July 2021

8 hours 15mins for one freezing goal, but worth it

by Tony Attwood

It started at 3.45pm with a drive from Corby to the Sixfields Stadium (home of Northampton Town and one of only two grounds where a stand is named after an Arsenal player).  There I picked up Drew, and we drove onto the M1…

To be greeted by signs announcing major delays on the motorway closer to London.  A consultation with Smartnav and a confirmation; yup the motorway was screwed and Smartnav would take us off and around it.

In fact by the time we got there the problems had gone but the temperature which had been a warming minus 2 when we left Northampton was now minus 4.5.

For once the underground from Finchley was reassuringly warming, and the brisk walk from Archway down the Holloway Road to the pub was warming, as was the large Merlot in the plastic wine glass Drew kindly purchased.

A 7,30 kick off, presumably to meet the crazed schedule of some semi-demented TV exec, and we wondered – first whether anyone was going to shoot, and second just how many shots Arsenal would have when they finally got going.  I counted 29, but then I could well be wrong.

Arsenal tried everything from smashes to lobs, headers to Henry-esque curling side footers, but nothing would work, until Jack popped up.  He had played in a position which is a cross between Bergkamp and Cazorla, and is where he used to play when we saw him at Barnet in the reserves, and he made it happen.

Everyone now uses the same words about Jack:  commitment, involvement, desire, workrate, invention, and a freedom to move.  Francis Coquelin will probably never have a song at the Ems, but he is growing into a good player, and may soon be a great player when he plays in defensive midfield.  Diaby was there again, and lasted longer this time.  Oh if only he could stay free from injury.

Swansea were a surprise including in their line up the ex-chancellor of the exchequer Leon Britton looking fit for his advancing years.  As Arsenal attacked they defended and defended over and over.  God knows how  Wojciech Szczesny kept warm (he refuses even in these temperatures to wear a track suit), but he was there for the two saves he had to make.

At the end Theo showed he was Henry in disguise by taking the ball out to the corner flag to waste the last two minutes.  Even Stefan, who sits next to me and usually sneaks out with five minutes to go stayed to the whistle.  Ah what memories are these.

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As for the catering – I went for a cappuccino at half time but the young man who served me didn’t know what it was, so went to find a supervisor.  Eventually he did manage to find the coffee machine too.

And so back to Jack.  21 years old.  What other words to say about him?  Drive, determination, up-for-it, you name it, he is it.  And believe me I was desperate for no extra time – by the end the temperature had dropped considerably (it was minus 7 when we got back to the car) – and we needed a hero to warm everyone who bothered to make it to the ground.

Jack can, he has shown us in the second half of this match, run a game as Brady once did and how Liam must be thrilled with his prodigy.   When he takes control everyone responds, and as a result we knocked up all those chances.  Yes Swansea had a shot or two – one hit the post, as did one from Theo, but the second half was just totally ours.

58,359 tickets were sold for the match, although clearly some, on seeing the temperature gauge decided not to turn up.

Just to cap it all, after a little smirk at the Chelsea result, we found the M1 closed out of London for reasons that were not the slightest bit clear.   Once we got onto the motorway – the newly enlarged motorway now with four lanes out of London and a refashioned hard shoulder up to Milton Keynes – was down to one lane.  It seems someone lost a pencil case on the Luton sliproad so they decided to rebuild it.  Again.

I got home a few minutes after midnight.  It was minus nine in the village of Great Oakley.   Sadly I had forgotten to adjust my home’s temperature controls and the heating had gone off earlier.

Everyone who texted me told me I was mad to go.   But then so was Drew.  So was everyone else.  But being there to see the further emergence of our new, brilliant, amazing young number 10, is worth it every time.

I’ll write more when I come back from the frost-bight clinic.

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14 comments to 8 hours 15mins for one freezing goal, but worth it

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Nice ,Tony , and may your madness never be cured ! I too have been diagnosed with Arsenalitis and there is no cure . Acceptance ( as opposed to denial) will lead your through the ‘road untaken ‘ to feelings of euphoria ,unbridle joy ,singing of praises to the ‘great one’ and hopefully cups that runneth over !
    Make mine a Merlot too !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sorry if the post above doesn’t open.New to this cut and paste thing!

  • akasuna00

    nice one Tony…

  • WalterBroeckx

    They work Brickfields, they work 😉

  • WalterBroeckx

    Only 8 hours Tony, only 8 hours and 15 mins…. 😉

    And don’t believe the “mad texts”. That is called loving your club. I have done myself some mad things to see my beloved clubs (Arsenal and my local club). In Dutch we call this “club love”. A word I love.

  • nicky

    I liked the report on the to and from journey to the Emirates as well as the dicey order for a cappuccino. Let’s have more of those asides, they help lighten the more sober reporting on the game.
    I get a little concerned over the lack of protection awarded to Wilshere by a succession of referees of late. Not so much last night but the Citeh game was a prime example. Wilshere, being frightened of no-one is going to dish out his own punitive reply any time now and we will lose him on suspension when we need him most.

  • Rupert Cook

    Wilshire is the future captain of Arsenal. He displays the sort of passion it sometimes seems some of our players lack. I worry that he’s just an investment, a lovely little earner that the grinning ghoul Gazides will sell off to City, Manu or Chelsea for a pleasant profit in a couple of years.

  • nicolas


    My hat is off for Wilshere, who was again Arsenal’s best player by far. I also agree with you on Coquelin, and I would like to see him a bit more. And while Arteta is out, in my opinion Coquelin could easily take Gazorlas place in the midfield for a while, and maybe make gazorla fight for his place in the team.

    I’m hoping also for few 90 minute games to Giroud as a lone striker or with Theo, who I find a bit out of placed as a striker. He and Giroud could work together in a 4-4-2 formation but for instanse in the City-game Walcott was completely missing.

  • Tasos

    Agree Tony, Coquelin was influential last night, we have missed someone with his energy in that position lately.

    Jack was terrific though, his best game for along time, maybe his best so far for the first team. His performance promises so much for the future of Arsenal FC.

    Although for some it would appear every silver lining has a cloud.

    The more things change the more they stay the same.

  • You are braver than me Tony – although I sold my ticket for the price of a pint so a father could take his son to the game…

    …so my seat wasn’t one of the empty ones!

  • bob

    ” in my opinion Coquelin could easily take Gazorlas place in the midfield for a while, and maybe make gazorla fight for his place in the team”
    Nicolas, Tasos, Tony,
    Yes, credit to the boy for showing up and doing creditably. But let us not be deluded. Coq is not yet ready to anchor the Songless midfield on an ongoing basis; and that purchase still ought to be made in this very transfer window. Coq is a band-aid for that self-inflicted wound, and some of us well understand that fact, even as you might have a need to sleight-of-hand that away. That said, Coq should have his time and hopefully develop into what you (and I) would hope for him. But he is not there yet, except for wishful thinking.

  • Paul"the Gooner"

    I was unable to get to the match last night.I also refused to watch it on TV,i cannot stand ESPN,very,very anti Arsenal.Watched the highlights on ITV.Craig Burley is a nasty Jock.One comment he made was “Arsenal have put pressure on Swansea at least for the last 2 minutes.This was with 10 minutes to go.Did you all see the cameras highlight the empty seats!Well done to BT for getting the contract next season.They have 18 first picks as well.Well done AW.Bringing in Coq and moving Jack forward.Jack is different class.

  • Gooner S

    Flipping cold it was down in Block 18. Coquelin was excellent and I liked the balance of the team with Cazorla out wide and the Arsenal supporters that did turn up got behind the team…excellent.