Waking up on Sunday was accompanied with a warm fuzzy feeling that something momentous had happened the day before. Well that’s what my head, stomach and less mentionable parts were telling me anyway. Winning at the new Wembley was done, the monkey was off the back, as Lukas would say and all that was left of an up and down but ultimately successful Arsenal FC season was to watch North London turn into a sea of red.
Getting the tube at Oakwood was similar to a matchday except for the large numbers of children and women present in the travellers. Smiles and “‘superb, we’ve finally done it” comments were the order of the day. With the sun beaming down on the righteous and nobody wearing a coat, all you could see were Arsenal tops of every description and age. A less-than-happy hammer in claret and blue looked decidedly out of place in our tube car.
The plan was to head to the South bridge at the stadium and see the start of the parade, then walk down to Islington Town Hall. The Drayton Park was flying a flag which looked as though it may have been one of the originals flown at Highbury and the chap in the ‘Anfield’ top started some rather rumbustious singing from his privileged vantage point.
The sight of a green dinosaur leading the convoy across the South bridge is one that will stick with me forever. The huge number of children in the crowd must have loved it. Sticking through the sunroof like some sort of Jurassic pope, the chap inside must have finished the boiling hot day about a stone lighter.
The brand new trophy was glinting in the glorious May sunshine and the players’ faces still showed both the happiness and the relief of the day before.
So with the bus heading towards Aubert Park, we set off for Upper Street. Even walking along back roads, every single street had red, white and yellow shirts on display. Time for a quick road beer and we kept a bag around our cans though this was probably unnecessary as the no street-drinking ban was not being enforced. At Highbury corner we hit the start of the huge crowd and progress became slow. Cutting away from the main drag towards Liverpool Road and heading south seemed a good plan, but even this was unfruitful. I imagine a limit had been reached for the Town Hall square, side roads were blocked by the police and no access was to be had.
So we decided to cut our losses and head back to the Armoury in the hope of bagging a decent view. We timed it superbly and managed to get in the shade over by the Little Wonder cafe at Bear Island. Men, women and children stood for hours in searing heat in the hope of seeing their heroes. They showed some highlights on the big screen and each goal was greeted with rapturous scenes and the player’s names sung.
Luckily the parade seemed ahead of schedule and the expectant throng were soon rewarded with the joyous return of the bus and players. They were introduced in number order with Szcz leading the way. Both him and the BFG are so exuberant in their celebrations it’s obvious they love being Arsenal fans as well as players.
Tommy, Arsene and the cup were greeted with the biggest cheer of the day. Arsene holding the trophy above his head had the air of a man who was so thankful that integrity and sticking to one’s beliefs could finally be rewarded. Other specialists in spending vast fortunes for short term profit please take note.
The players took it in turns to grab the microphone and lead the singing. “It’s Happened Again” and Jack’s “What do you think of Tottenham?” reminded our N17 neighbours that that shadow is mighty long.
It was a truly glorious day and North London is most definitely as red as red could be.
“Written” by chas.