By Billy the Dog McGraw. Our man in the car park.
Thus it was.
I know the Guardian said it was 25 passes, but that’s tripe. They were quite clearly drunk at the time. I could see them in their little press boxy type thing, below us executive types in club level with me old mates from 02. 35? 45? It was certainly “lots” as we mathematicians say.
Now as we approach the next game, in an exclusive interview for Untold the Lord Wenger said, “I believe our group stage is a good test because I think this group is much stronger than it looks. I am keen to start with Braga because they look a handful. They are a fantastic counter-attacking team.”
(Actually two words in the previous paragraph were just a teenzy weenzy bit of an exaggeration).
And now we are preparing to do it again – yes again – only this time with 55 passes and an overhead backwards somersault, as we line up to play Braga, Sporting Clube de Braga, or Arsenal do Minho as they were called from 1920 when they copied our kit. (Braga also renamed their youth team Arsenal do Braga which is not bad going for adulation).
The fans of Braga are known as Arsenalistas due to their kit being our kit (as it were). Actually they even have their own Arsenal/Tiny Totts match against Vitória de Guimarães from which children under 13 are restricted from entering unless an adult is with them. What the Tinies would give to have enough support to be able to restrict entry!
Braga’s recent run in Europe started in 2004–05 (UEFA Cup). In 2006–07, they lost to the alphabetists (AZ) again in the UEFA Cup having beaten Slovan Liberec 4–0. Next season things really went downhill when they lost to the Tiny Totts 6–4 on aggregate in the last 16.
In 2007–08 Braga qualified again for the group stages of the UEFA Cup, when they entered a jousting competition with Notlob Wanderers and drew one death each and after other games which actually included some football (since Samantha Allerdyce was not managing one of the teams) they got out of the group stages. They lost to Werder Bremen.
In the following year they played Appy Arry at Portsmouth and quite naturally beat them 3-0. Brown envelopes were seen floating in the wind but no one offered anything and I make no allegation or comment. Arry came down to breakfast the next morning, lifted up one of the man silver dishes that the cooking staff had laid out for his delectation, looked down, muttered “Eggs! Eggs! Eggs! Eggs!” and immediately resigned and went all Tiny.
This year Braga Arsenal made their Champs League debut and beat Celtic to get through from the third qualifier, before beating Sevilla in the fourth. (Of course they could have done it the other way around, but that would have been perverse.)
Arsenal’s team will be…
Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Cliche (Djourou, Eboue, Gibbs)
Song (Denilson, Henderson)
Fabregas, Nasri (Wilshere, Lansbury, JET)
Arshavin, Chamakh, Vela, (Rosicky, Sunu, Afobe)
Arsenal will win 5-1 and we will all go home very jolly and rather happy. Our injury list is extensive of course, but we cope well with some space to spare, and in due course the dying and wounded will eventually return.
The Car Park
But now having dealt with the heavy stuff, here’s a thought. Did you know that long after the game is over and even the crowd outside Arsenal station has diminished to a police constable and a passing stray dog looking for the leftovers of a hotdog served by Cut-me-own-throat Dibbler (you know him?), a group gathers to the left of the steps leading up to Entrance S, and leans over the wall.
The centre of their attention is the exit from the underground car park, and the group (numbered in their hundreds) crane forward eagerly looking to grab a glimpse of the top of a player’s 4 by 4 with tinted windows.
Oh joy! Oh fun!
But there is a lot of hanging around thus, and therefore I propose that 02, friends of members everywhere and operators of the jolly competitions and free pints (although not on European nights) should sponsor the car park exit, and put up a big screen so that the car-hunting fans can see the goings and comings INSIDE the car park. Won’t that be jolly?
I have to admit Jane and I did peer over the side just to see what all the fuss was about. And do you know, this isn’t just a kids game! We actually weren’t the youngest people there!
Thus is the definition of fame: when the crowds line up to get a look at the top of your car.
Eggs! Don’t talk to me about eggs.
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