This week I eschewed my usual seating (standing ) position in the north bank and took advantage of the £20 prices for seats in the East & West stands. I know Tony has pointed this out before but it really is a very good deal to be able to watch the Arsenal for just £20 in the Capitol Radio Challenge Trophy (or whatever the League cup is called these days).
We were playing Southampton and so I asked my work colleague Matt (another historian) if he would like to come along. Matt is a Saints fan with a soft spot for Arsenal but he’s never been to the Emirates (I did take him to Highbury once).
Getting there was problematic (this is becoming a bit of theme eh Tony?), it took us 45 minutes just to get out of Northampton and having sampled fish and chips near the ground we got just as the teams kicked off.
Our seats were right over the halfway line in the East stand upper, seven rows back. Absolutely brilliant seats. “Matt was seriously impressed: what an amazing place to watch football”, he said. And he’s right, of course.
I can compare the experience because I went to see Arsenal play Southampton at St. Mary’s last season and sat with the home fans. Matt was similarly inconvenienced on Tuesday night. So when Alexis scored that amazing free kick everyone rose as one except him.
Then when Tadic converted the penalty he just beamed silently. Even Clynn’s exceptional shot didn’t get him to do more than clap politely. I thought Saints were the better team and watching with a friend sort of reduced my tribalism a little. I was angry at the time wasting and Matt admitted that the ref had given us virtually nothing all game.
He was magnanimous in victory (mind you he was reliant on me for lift home!) which eased the pain somewhat. Like Walter I hate us losing any game but I suppose this was one we could afford to let go. I hope Southampton win the thing now.
What a view though – it was great to see the stadium through someone else’s eyes. I’ve been to Wembley four times and the Ems is far superior. The Saints fans taunted us about the atmosphere but it was not the usual crowd and that was obvious in other ways.
It took ages to get in and the security seemed excessive – Southampton fans don’t have a bad reputation. There were lots of late comers (later than us!) and early departures. Lots of first timers I expect, lots of kids too (including a youngster who had won a competition to introduce the legend (Andy Linegan) at half-time who was very accomplished.
I left a bit disappointed that we hadn’t played better but encouraged that we might have some pretty useful substitute defenders. Matt enjoyed himself and we had a long but pleasant drive home. Football isn’t always just about winning – except on Saturday of course, when that ALL that matters!
Come on you Gunners!
There is an index to today’s anniversaries on our home page and a list of the latest articles on the right side of each page
- Are Arsenal really making progress, or are we starting to slip back?
- Luton 3 Arsenal 4: maybe it is time to say positive things
- Luton v Arsenal – the referee, the team, Saka and Cliff Bastin
- Luton Town – how do they play the game. The tackles, fouls and cards.
- Luton Town v Arsenal: Grim football, fewest goals, lowest possession rate