As a relatively young fan in 1989, I don’t think I ever fully understood the feelings of Nick Hornby as written in Fever Pitch….I have never really been let down by Arsenal, I’d never been given that false hope, I definitely had never felt like he did during that 90 minutes of football, well that is until the elation that followed Thomas charging through the midfield I have always known what that moment felt like. (I also remember how that half term seemed to take an eternity as I couldn’t wait to go back to school and rub my Spurs supporting mates noses in it)
In my first few years supporting Arsenal it was not really with any hope or expectation, there were no real glory years to speak of in recent memory. We had won the League Cup in 1987 breaking the Rush hoodoo (“they always win when he scored you know”), and been at Wembley the following season to watch the horror of losing to Luton….thanks Gus and Nigel. Then that memorable night at Anfield.
Then came another League win, and the Cup double plus the Cup Winners Cup, what was Hornby on about? In 10 years of avidly following Arsenal I had seen 1 European Trophy, 2 League Cups, 1 FA Cup and 2 League titles. What was hard about that. And then after Graham relieved himself of his duties by relieving Rune Hauge of £400k, and the Rioch interlude, along came Arsene and his band of entertainers and in the next 10 years I got to see another 3 League Titles and 4 FA Cup wins. Before I turned 30 I had seen Arsenal win 13 trophies (the pedants among you will realise the trophy count was actually 14 but 1979 somewhat passed me by as a 3 year old and you will recall I had a brief dalliance with West Ham from ages 4-9 due to my Grandad buying me the 1980 kit for my 4th birthday).
The following 7 years have not been so kind (and not just to my waistline) and finally I get how Nick Hornby felt on that Friday night in May 1989. Pacing up and down the living room convinced that we aren’t going to get a winner or that we will concede an equaliser. Big games greeted with a feeling of inevitability about the performance/result. Away at West Brom last season the team put us through the mill, and they have done on various occasions this season too, and now Sunday beckons…….I am going to be a wreck come 4pm, and i’m not sure how I am going to survive the match that follows.
I need your help AA’ers: How are you going to get through what could be the most stressful 90 minutes of our season so far?
Gooner in Exile