By Walter Broeckx
Not really the match report as you are used to getting from me after a game. That will be for later. When I get the time to review the match from the comfort of my sofa and enjoy the events on the pitch as they unfolded in front of our eyes. Because sometimes football is more than what is happening on the field. And this was the case for me last Sunday. So this is a more personal article. But very much related to Arsenal.
As most of our regular readers know my wife is suffering from the results of being bitten by a tick. As a result she can not walk for let us say more than 20-30 meters. In our house she usually can walk on her own for the first half of the day but then she has to use her crutches most of the time. So when last season I had the crazy idea in my head that maybe I could take her over to one of our supporters club trips it was just crazy. My wife doesn’t like football. Never has and probably never will. But never say never.
So when the members of our supporters club voted me as their president last summer my wife became also a member of our club and I had the idea of her coming over to Arsenal in my head, but I didn’t mention it to her.
And because of her disease my wife is having some form of house arrest. She cannot go out on her own any more. The only way to go out is when I or one of my children take her out. For any person from any age this is terrible but for someone who is just over 50 and trying to imagine it happening to me seems unbearable.
So with our supporters club getting tickets for the match against Aston Villa I thought this is the time to brighten up her winter. I asked Arsenal and the person who is the liaison officer for the supporters clubs if we as a supporters club can also order tickets in the disabled section. When I got an affirmative answer I asked her the question: do you want to come along? And she had no hesitation and said that she would do it. A first great moment for me. I let Mark Brindle know that we would like to have a ticket for my wife and he got us in touch with the people who take care for the disabled supporters. Thank you Mark.
The people from the disabled sections were very kind and helpful and after filling in the request I was informed within days that the tickets for my wife and for me as the person assisting her were granted. A great moment for both of us. Thank you so much people from the disabled section.
So we came over, had a nice and easy trip to the Emirates. We had the chance to see the players from close at hand as they got off the coach to enter the stadium, and the biggest roar the group gathered there was when Wenger walked to the stadium. That sounded like music in my ears.
We then entered the stadium using the ramp that is built for wheel chair users and that is build in a great way so that people pushing the wheel chair don’t have to push the whole time but by varying the angle it goes remarkably easy. This also helps when going down again by the way. Really important and you can see that they have thought about such things. Thank you planners and builders for this.
As we had tickets for the lower tier my wife wanted to see how it looked from the upper tier. And there are many lifts in the Emirates where wheel chair users can go up and down. We had a look and the people who are responsible for the area immediately rushed on to see if they could help us. They really gave us the feeling that there are there to help you. As we explained we had just gone up to have a look they told us that in case the last person who usually came late wouldn’t arrive we could use the space but we didn’t want to go that far. Luckily as we later found out.
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We then went down again to our block 7 which we had to enter from the entrance from block 8 but that is just a small detail. And there we found a place between the other wheel chair users. Right behind Blacksheep even though I couldn’t spot him between the crowd during the match. Again everyone being very kind to us and everyone trying to be helpful for the other people in that section.
The match itself was one big party. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Wenger had read Untold or had been informed by the people from Arsenal who read Untold that my wife was having her first match at the Emirates. So they put up a nice show for her. My wife clapped when needed, my wife celebrated the goals from Arsenal, even the disallowed goal. My wife was really enjoying the match and she wasn’t bored for a minute.
After the match she said that she now really could see and understand what it meant to me. Something that I hoped to share with her and that I now did. When we got home she even wanted to see the highlights of MOTD to stay in the mood. My fellow Arsenal Belgium supporters told her that she had to come with us next time as she was bringing good luck to the team. She probably will not as it really is very tough for her and she will get a bit of a set back from the exhausting trip in the next days but that was a price she really wanted to pay for this time. And every one we had seen on the day was so great to her that it was as if she was a special guest of this day.
My moment of the Day (MOTD also) was however at half time. Something that she said and that most people wouldn’t notice. But it meant a lot to me and touched me. At half time I asked her if I could bring her anything to drink: a coffee? A cappuccino? (Maybe they do serve them in the lower tier Tony?). But no she didn’t need anything. But as she had just seen that great safe from Oooooospina at the end of the first half she turned to me and said to me : “WE have a great keeper”. I must say she said it in Dutch of course but the word for me was : WE. It was not: you have a great keeper. It was not: Arsenal have a great keeper. No, it was WE. And that really was giving me a real great feeling. And it touched me.
So now she knows what its like to go to Arsenal, to experience it inside the stadium. She enjoyed it and knows the joy it brings to supporters.
Of course all this wouldn’t have been possible without the people I have already mentioned in this article. But of course the people who brought that great rousing feeling you get when your team has just won a great game of football in a very convincing way helped the most to the great feeling of happiness.
So thank you players and managers from Arsenal for making this match one of the best we have seen live this season. You have made our day and turned it in to a very special day.
Thank you Arsenal for the whole experience! What a match, what a day! A day to remember for the rest of our lives together.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal
All today’s anniversaries are on the home page