By Walter Broeckx
Last weekend saw Carine and myself once again on the way to London. Not just to see the Arsenal play against Everton (which meant the result would never be in doubt) but to see other things as well. And to see a part of Arsenal not many of us will ever have the opportunity to see.
As I am the chairman of the official Arsenal Belgium supporters club I get a few privileges from time to time. Because I was one of the lucky 30 or so chairmen of supporters’ clubs to have the honour and chance to visit London Colney and get a view behind the scenes. But I will bring you more about that in a separate article. But I can tell you now it really was amazing to see.
As I had to be at the Emirates before 9.00 am in the morning the only option we had was to go to London on Saturday to make it London weekend for both of us.
But it was a weekend in which Murphy’s law took over ….. It all started well at my son’s house where we stay during his holiday to take care of their cats. Dry but cool weather. All went smooth up to Calais. When we entered the shuttle station no indication of any problem. Only when we saw the screens at the station we saw that our train wasn’t indicated. And we saw the first signs of problems.
One of the shuttle trains had stopped in the tunnel and now only one tunnel was in use. First the sign said a delay of one hour was to be expected. And then it became two hours of waiting as both the high speeds trains and the shuttles going both ways had to go through the same tunnel.
Oh well those things can happen and as the London Colney tour was only the next day no real stress. We had tickets for Windsor Castle on Saturday but all my navigation devices estimated the travel time from Folkestone Windsor castle at around 2 hours at the most we should have been there around 1 o’clock even with the 2 hours delay.
So we even took the time to take a pause at Maidstone to eat a snack and use the toilet before we continued to Windsor Castle. Road works from Folkestone up to as far as you can see made us ride at slower speed than usual but still no problems. But then my navigation system urged me to leave the main road as there were big problems ahead. After a quick check we had to drive 30 km off the main road to Windsor. “Why not?” we thought. Wrong decision. Even with all the delays on the high I don’t know if we would have taken more time than we did on that road.
Every little town between the moment we left the highway up to Windsor had their own private road works with one traffic red lights stopping traffic very effectively. With an estimated time of arriving at 13.00 we were still trying near to Windsor at 15.00. And knowing that the last visitors were only allowed till 16.00 the first nerves came. To make a long trip short we managed to get in Windsor Castle around 15.45.
We ran through the chapel that was closing in 5 minutes. We then ran through the state apartment as quickly as was possible. So we could only half enjoy the experience. But on a personal Flemish note I never felt prouder about my compatriots Rubens and Van Dijck than I did at Windsor Castle. I know they were and still are famous but seeing their many pictures taking up such a prominent place in Windsor Castle made me, as a man from Antwerp, very proud. Both painters have a very deep association with Antwerp, city I call home.
The drive from Winsdor to our hotel near Camden Lock was the same as our trip to Windsor. In pouring rain and with the traffic standing still most of the time. But the hotel was nice next to the water so it was worth the trouble. We then wanted to eat something at the hotel. My wife took a vegetarian curry and I took the grilled salmon. It took a while to be prepared but in the end it was worth it. We then went to bed and … oh no you are not interested in that. But it took a while but it was…. OK I will Tony stop it here but I was only making a joke.
At 7.00 Sunday morning Carine and I were in the breakfast room. An English breakfast as is mandatory when I am in England and then up to my room to get my coat and grab my camera and oyster pass and then off to the underground. Well that was what I thought. I came to our room with my key card and the light turned red. Okay that happened also when we arrived and they re-programmed the card and then it worked. But not this morning. With the clock ticking the re-programmed cards didn’t work. Still red lights.
Back to the lobby. Oh there will be a problem with the batteries in the door the staff member told me. I will call someone to have them replaced. I have to leave the hotel at 8.00 I told him and explained I had to be on the bus that was leaving to visit the training ground and that this was a once in a lifetime occasion. The nice and friendly man then turned himself from desk manager in to a specialist in repairing doors and replacing batteries. After a few attempts he managed to open the door and I could leave the hotel at…8.00. Thanks again mate!
About London Colney I will you in other articles but it was worth the trouble and nerves.
As was the match. Yes we had trouble but we got there in the end and it was worth it. I knew before kick off that if the match would match our weekend it would take us a long time to get really going but then the reward would be big. And so it turned out! Cech saving us a few times (Emery knows…. ) and then one moment of brilliance of Lacazette putting us all on our feet to celebrate a real beauty.
I found out the second goal was offside. That will teach Riley to delay the introducing of the VAR for this season. I must say I feel sorry for the Everton supporters who should only have lost 0-1 (and a handball penalty that Moss didn’t give but I will not be to harsh on that non decision). But I couldn’t be bothered that much to be honest. It was the PGMO who didn’t want to know about VAR so they should be attacked. Not Arsenal.
I wonder if just as with the Koscielny handball that made the PGMO change the handball rules they now will use this moment to get the VAR introduced from next season, without any further delay. To be honest I wouldn’t mind a few more errors from assistants in Arsenal’s favour this season. We are still due a lot of errors from the last 10 years before we come even close to being even.
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- Newcastle United’s weakness revealed and what they could do. Arsenal v Newcastle United.
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