By Walter Broeckx
There is something in the air. Don’t you smell it? Well I do. All the way from where I sit writing this article. I sure smell it. It is the smell of anticipation in the air. The smell of: finally! Yes! It is the smell of the green, green grass of home. Also known as the Emirates.
And as I have been on the pitch once myself as the picture in the header shows I do know how the pitch in the Emirates smells. A heavenly smell. Well it does in my imagination probably because if I would take away the bias it will probably smell like all grass fields I find myself running on every weekend.
But yes this weekend I am coming over to London for the first time this season. At last. We will come over this weekend with a group of supporters from the Arsenal Belgium supporters club. And for some it will be the first time in the Emirates. And as we have to young children in the group together with their fathers who (the kids at least) will have their first match at the Emirates I can imagine how excited they will be by now.
And in a way for us who don’t have the opportunity to come to a match each time this feeling remains even when you are like me a grown up adult who have seen more than 50 years passing by. But here I am on a Thursday evening counting how many times I have to sleep before I can go to London. Just like those young kids in our group probably are doing.
Being a football supporter keeps you young in a strange way. Being a football supporter from afar keeps you even younger I think. My brother who is older than me and who will be there also was in fact the first to openly admit that excitement earlier this week.
And when you look at it you might find it silly. Or stupid. Or strange. Or you might say: grow up. But to be honest I don’t want to grow up when it comes to Arsenal. I want to enjoy it like I do and did all the time. I want to keep feeling that excitement about going to London (my second city after Antwerp) even if it is for the umpteenth time that I am coming over. Because the day I lose that it will probably the day that I stop supporting Arsenal. Can’t see that day happening as long as I ‘m alive to be honest.
The fact that it will be a long day doesn’t take away the fun at all. No because it gives me the chance to be in the company of my brother with whom I have supported Arsenal since 1979, for the whole day. To be with other friends I have learned to know thanks to our supporters club. Being in their company is great. It gives you a special feeling of togetherness. A feeling of belonging somewhere. Even if that somewhere is a few hundred kilometres from where I was born and from where I my family home.
And of course it is a day of meeting people again. As things stand now it will almost as if the whole regular Untold writing team will come together next Saturday. Meeting Tony again (we haven’t met since the semi final), seeing Drew again (first time since Sunderland at home) and coming from south London, Greenwich (I know I pronounce it wrong but hey my tongue can say things you can’t say) in the good company of Andrew (also since Sunderland) to the place we all want to be is something I am also very excited about.
Being an Arsenal supporter has been for a very long time a lonely business out here in Belgium. I thought Eric and I were probably the only ones who supported Arsenal. But gradually we found out we were more. And now we have an amazing number of members in the supporters club that has chosen me to be their chairman. Something I still am amazed about, but I like to think that what I have been doing on Untold does play a part in it.
But now apart from having so many friends at home I also have found a few friends in London. And when I look back at being a supporter since 1979 this is really something amazing. I never could have imagined anything like that in those days.
And that is all adding to the feelings of excitement. Because going to London is not just to see my favourite team play on that amazing pitch in that amazing stadium. But it is about being with friends who share the same passion. It is about meeting people from other countries who share that same vision on Arsenal and football.
So yes I am looking forward to next Saturday like a kid on Christmas eve. Looking forward to seeing you all again. And let us shout out loud for our Gunners on the field. I will do it anyway. Never mind the soar throat the day after. Can’t wait to be there.
PS: There is one minor, slight problem with me going to the Emirates and meeting Tony there. There will be no real match report coming on line shortly after the match has finished. So my gain of being there is your loss this time. But I’m sure you will forgive me for this once.
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