What’s Your Last Arsenal Match Experience? By Dan Smith
As long-term readers will know, during the international break I like to find creative content. The BBC gave me an idea by asking people to share their memories of their last visit to a stadium.
Whenever it was or whoever it was against, I’m sure when you woke up that morning you didn’t think that potentially it be your last Arsenal match day experience for over a year?
Football was originally cancelled in March. The government have stressed it won’t be till May next year before they even discuss when or how many people are allowed back into venues. Even once this virus is under control, there will be caution before 60,000 fans are allowed back into grounds.
The fear is by then we will be conditioned into this ‘new normal.’ Over 12 months of fake noises being played into our TV screens, an over indulgence of games on the television, etc.
It would be great to share our memories of our last Arsenal match in the comments…
Even now, asking myself to recount my last visit to the Emirates it feels like a life time ago. It was in fact only February this year.
Despite being a red member, due to various reasons I hadn’t attended many games live in the last campaign. As a birthday gift my housemate got me tickets for the Olympiakos Europa League second-leg.
We gooners kind of look down on the Europa League and in some ways are arrogant, like we are too big for the competition. I now feel silly for watching the first leg and being happy when Lacazette missed a sitter to make it 2-0.
Our theory was it would be a shame to go to London with nothing at stake.
A narrow win in Greece was perfect. It put us on track for the next round but still allowed my first match in a while to have consequences.
I’ll be honest though I underestimated the opposition. The Greek side have a well-known poor record on their travels in Europe.
During the journey from Wales we spoke about a lot of things, but strangely not the event we were about to see. I had zero nerves or trepidation. I was looking forward to everything you do on match day, but it never entered my head that there was the possibility that I was about to watch my team get knocked out.
Until kick off…
You know when you watched The Arsenal long enough you can just sense something in the air. It’s like reading the same book or watching the same movie.
From the very first whistle it never felt secure.
Don’t get me wrong the team didn’t play well but us fans didn’t help. We were not helping the teams confidence by how nervous we were. Between us and the players, our game management of defending an away goal was horrendous.
That’s due to experience.
At half time at Anfield or Old Trafford, no one would be panicking over drawing 0-0 because they would have history to draw upon.
At the break, going off the atmosphere you would have thought Arsenal were losing, not 45 minutes from going through. And boy did the away fans sense our nerves. I sat just above them and their excitement to be fair was the only memorable part of the evening.
When we went 1-0 down my attitude was let’s get to extra time and we would be okay.
There isn’t really a bad seat at our ground, but anyone who’s sat behind the goal, upper tier, will know that what is happening at the other end can be deceiving.
Replays confirmed how brilliant Aubameyang’s goal was.
Imagine the pain of having an up-close look of Olympiakos celebrating their second goal. All their staff running off the bench to the away end. The way they celebrated in hindsight would have made Auba’s a sitter great if it had gone in. Imagine their faces?
Instead, thinking the time was up, I have a long-distance blur of the ball ricocheting towards goal and momentarily thinking we had rescued the night. A stranger next to me said ‘it’s okay, he was offside’ (he wasn’t).
Seconds later the final whistle and for the first time I listened to the theme tune of UEFA’s secondary competition and it hurt. Like an ex-girlfriend, I only appreciated the Europa League now it was out of my life.
Then I had to walk down the steps and see flares being lit and the away players throwing their shirts to the crowd. I didn’t understand what was being chanted at us as we walked away, heads down, but I sensed it wasn’t nice.
Then there’s that long queue to Arsenal’s tube. This is where I don’t rant but more reflect. Usually along the lines of,… ‘we travelled 4 hours for that?’ … Am I a mug?… You know the drill.
Normally we get a late coach from Victoria. I can’t remember why but we had a later bus at Heathrow so stayed on the Piccadilly line. I’m proud to say we made so many friends for the entire journey. Olympiakos’ fans were brilliant and cheered me up with their humbleness.
My parents live in Corfu so I can say they were your stereotypical Greek’s, hugging me, kissing me on the cheek, saying Arsenal are their fave English team, etc.
I got back into Cardiff at 4.30 am. We sat in McDonald’s for an hour waiting for the first train service to get me home.
It was a very long day just to see your team lose in the Europa League. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!
I would love to hear your memories of your last Arsenal match…
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