Written by Jamie
Arsenal vs Manchester City (H) 3-1 (Attendance:21,604)
28th October 1986 – League Cup 3rd Round Tie
Rocastle, Hayes(pen), P Davis
Lukic, V Anderson, Sansom, S Williams, O’Leary, Adams, Rocastle, P Davis, Quinn (Allinson), P Groves, Hayes
I asked if I could write a guest article for Arsenal Arsenal. I then thought about it. What do you write about in the closed season?
I had two things to avoid.
1) I could talk about transfers? I don’t know about you but speculation doesn’t do anything for my nerves even if I do think that this might be a good summer for the Arsenal.
2) Avoid embarrassing typos. I noticed on a recent post that I suggested that Haines wouldn’t be a bad replacement for Clichy should he not re-sign. It might be a bit late for that.
So I decided on a nostalgia piece to open a debate on the first game you ever saw. Was it really the way you remember it?
In 1986 I was six years old, I had three sisters. I think my Father had begun to worry that I was going native. I remember sitting with my elder sisters attempting to drive the toy A Team truck over one of their favourite toys and my Father’s head popped around the door “your mother wants a word” he said, in that stern way that your boss talks to you if you are about to be made redundant.
Through my youth he would often ask my mother to discharge news I wasn’t going to like.
I entered the living room and my mother delivered the news “Your father wants to take you to a football game”. This was a latest of many ill fated attempts to get me a hobby, which included board games, an Atari games console and most bizarre of all stamp collecting.
Two weeks later my father took me to the game. Just the two of us, which to be honest would be a rarity over the next twenty years as Sisters, Cousins, Grandads and an Uncle just to mention a few would all make regular appearances on my Saturday afternoons and Wednesday nights. He bought me a scarf and a badge and sat me in the back row of the East Stand. My father looked at home at Arsenal and loved being back with his hero of the 1971 double team in charge.
It seemed too dark to watch football and a long way from the pitch. I was way behind the crowd’s reaction for every piece of action and missed most of the game. I was looking around obsessed by the amount of people in one place. It seemed packed, but the record books show it wasn’t as you can see from the attendance above.
I know that Martin Hayes played well, he scored a penalty. I missed how he won it and him scoring it. I remember Rocky being Rocky and a remember thinking that Niall Quinn looked like he had about as much of a clue as I did.
My father later recalled that this was not one of Quinn’s better nights in the number nine shirt. Big Niall always had more of an idea with Charlie Nicholas alongside him.
One thing I couldn’t have missed that night, nobody could, was Arsenal’s physical superiority. They were bigger, faster and hungrier than the opposition and at the start of a long run that would eventually lift this great old club out of a bleak period in their history. A period of course of which I knew nothing back then.
That physical superiority would be evident over the next few years as Arsenal were often dominant. As the team got older they learned how to win, how to close out games, they added craft to the graft. They knew how to comeback, sometimes with second halves where goals would fly in. Arsenal often scored more League goals in the Graham years than in the years where our football was apparently socially acceptable. We scored 72 this year.
1989 = 73 Goals
1991 = 74 Goals
1992 =81 Goals
Second halves were a must see. Especially from 89-92. No opponent too tough, no deficit too big. Adams, Thomas, Rocastle, to which Winterburn, Dixon and Smith were added and of course magic Merson. Titles followed.
Despite the off the field antics of which there were too many to recount, these were the heroes that you should grow up with. These are the people that got you in to football. These are the players that define us. My father incidentally feels the same about the 1971 Double side. We should all have heroes like that.
So my parents got me in to football and thank god they did!
It has been there every step of my life since and it was certainly more exciting than stamp collecting.
On the way home that night, my father played House of the Rising Sun on the car stereo. I had never heard anything like it. Bands with Guitars would form the other part of my youth. All in all, it was a good night’s work.