Wenger’s 3rd Double?

March 13, 2016

FA Cup quarterfinals, at home in front of our 12th man, a relatively fit squad and against a team we have already beaten 3-0 away this season; surely an Arsenal win – if only it were so simple!

The draw at SHL and away hammering of Hull could and should give rise to optimism with the expectation of a successful run in both the League and FA Cup, The team must be buoyed by the prospect of the Hatrick of FAC’s.

What of Watford? Nice family club 😀

Strong in defence and midfield, stuttering upfront after initially looking potent. It is only a couple of moths since the media (bizarrely)  linked us with Troy Deeney and  were raving about his strike partner (whose name I can’t be bothered to Google).

Watford have already had an excellent season having probably achieved their target of survival in the PL. They come to THOF in the midst of a poor run having won only 2 of their last 11 PL games.

I like their manager; Quique Sanchez  Flores, I would like both his job and his name.(useless fact – the legendary Alfredo di Stefano is his godfather)

One certainty this lunchtime is whomever is in goal for Watford will have a stormer. They always do. Both Gomes and Pantilliaman are excellent GK’s and I expect them to be busy, very busy.

Our Team: Ramsey is a major loss especially given the number of injuries in midfield. One more and Flamini returns! However, this gives Elneny a chance to cement his place in the team; a very impressive performance at Hull gives rise to the hope that Mr Wenger has discovered another gem. The El Nino/ Coq combo gives defensive solidity and also allows the attackers to concentrate more on attack. Walcott, in particular, could benefit .

Walcott or Campbell?  Welbeck or Giroud? What do you think? I lean towards Campbell and Giroud.

I believe that happiness depends upon setting achievable goals; the CL is not achievable thanks to the quality of the top 3 clubs (4 with PSG and 5 with BD). Realistically we are highly unlikely to beat one of them let alone two, so we must look elsewhere to find our goals and they are the PL and the FA Cup. Arsenal have won one of the goals their past two seasons, we are in a strong position to continue this quest for happiness.

The Double is On.


We Did the Double and Missed the Train

November 21, 2013

Inspired by DidIt and BR’s Dortmund travelogue, I thought I might have a crack at writing a post about a day out at Wembley in 1998. Ant wrote a summary at the time so it shouldn’t be too difficult. I hope you enjoy it.

The day begins early for my old man and his ex-work colleague, JC, as they leave Edmonton, North London for Wembley at 8.30am for the 3.00pm kick-off. Whereas my brother, Ant and I leave Nottingham (100 miles further away) at 8.00am, still there’s nothing like being prepared.


Nottingham station still being built

We arrive at The Century at 11am to find Dad, JC and our nephew Matt already installed. (The Century on Forty Avenue, up from Wembley Park had become a bit of a family tradition with trips to Wembley in the late 1970s and 1987 versus Liverpool. It’s now a Texaco garage I believe).


Lovely Escort

The day is a bit of a scorcher and JC has decided early on to dispense with any sartorial elegance and protect his pate with a knotted handkerchief.


Nice hankie!

I’d made a whole loaf of mushroom and garlic pate sandwiches to soak up the early beers but there were a few noses turned up at the prospect of them at first. After the 3rd pint kicked in, they all disappeared in the blink of an eye.

Ant decides a few fan photos might be in order, including a group of Terry McDermotts in full kit.


Charming FKWs

Dad looks quite red by midday and confronts Ant in the toilets with, ‘At my age, you have to hunt around for a while to find it and it drops off!’ This comment was later explained, ‘Well you have to remember that I was in the Navy and all the nice girls love a sailor and I’ve been married twice as well’. Both the beer and the sun were having an effect! N.b. if you ever wonder why Ant and me occasionally indulge in strange behaviour; well the answer is, ‘It’s genetic’!

I’d made some red cardboard fez hats and once on, my old man doesn’t take his off the whole day along with a shirt, cardigan and coat in 80 degrees of heat. The old boys decide the sandwiches aren’t sufficient and depart for the local cafe. It later transpires that my Dad refused to have any of JC’s fresh hot chips despite being offered them on several occasions but then proceeded to finish off someone else’s stone cold chips from another table. Filthy hound.

Ant, Matt and me enjoy the pre-match build-up with more beer, some rousing singing and a cavalcade of stretch limos, jags and an Arsenal open topped bus.


Nice crest

We get in the ground early, as was the tradition in those days, Ant and me in separate seats from Dad, JC and Matt (poor Matt). Having blown up dozens of red and white balloons, we realise we have no idea of the team line-ups, who’s fit or anything. I suppose 1998 was almost pre-internet days, certainly pre-blogs and 24 hour sports news coverage. Things seemed so much simpler even 15 short years back. The chap behind us was very complimentary about Mr Durkin, the referee and the whole Newcastle team, ‘ginger midget…..homosexual fish-face’ etc etc. Homophobia, what’s that?

Meanwhile, Matt and the old codgers are having a terrific time in their seats. After the game my Dad said ‘People kept jumping up anticipating a goal and I didn’t see either of ours’. Matt said, ‘Grandad nearly had a fight with the bloke in front when he was singing, ‘Stand up if you hate Man U’.


The match passes in a blur. Overmars scores in the first half. The half time chat seems to centre around how far out Marc was when he scored. Wembley at that time had no big screen. Blink and you missed it. It’s so different now at the Emirates, where you immediately see a reply from three different angles. Super Nic Anelka gets the second, but was he offside?, we’ll have to find out when we watch the highlights later. ‘We’ve Got that Double feeling’ and ‘Arsene Wenger’s Magic Hat’ are sung over and over again, joy abounds.

We meet up with Matt and the scrotes after the game and my old man has now added a Champions T shirt to his other 6 layers of clothing.


Those twin towers- ahhhhhhhhhhh.

The plan was to go back to The Century but the queues for the tube make this impossible. We decide to walk to The Greyhound on Wembley High Road. My Dad doesn’t like the idea of walking, especially as he’s going to have to walk back to the tube later. Even Arsenal’s second double can’t cheer the old bugger up! Eventually we arrive and the beer flows. The Geordies are excellent in defeat, determined to enjoy their day out at Wembley regardless of the result. A fire Engine in Newcastle livery turns up outside the boozer and a photo opportunity ensues.


Spot the Cockney


Spot the Muppets

Matt and the old boys call it a day at 7.15pm. Ant and me have until 10pm before our train is due to leave St Pancras. Several more beers ensue. We manage to find the highlights in one of the pubs and finally get to see how far out Overmars was and whether Nic was offside. We finally set off for the tube station at 9pm but Ant finds needing the toilet a problem, so we dive into an Irish pub. It’s full of Geordies singing away so we decide to have a swift one. The Geordies invite the ‘Cockneys’ to sing a song, so we bellow out ‘Arsene Wenger’s magic, he wears a magic hat’. Leaving the pub, we feel peckish again and decide to dambust a large doner kebab.

Getting to the train on time suddenly becomes an issue and we look to be doing ok until I get stuck at an automatic ticket barrier and am in too much of a state to leap it with the grace of a gazelle. Safe to say, getting on the platform to see the last train to Nottingham pulling out of the station wasn’t one of my highlights of the day!

We phone my Dad’s house and speak to my sister to arrange an overnight stop in North London. Apparently my sister struggled to explain to my old man what had happened. He apparently said, ‘Well, that takes the edge off it’ and ‘…but how did they miss the train, we left them at a quarter past seven? I really didn’t expect the day to end like this’…………………..and neither did we!

Written by chas

May 1971 – A week in the life of a Veteran Gooner

March 8, 2010

Morning all, todays post is from guest writer dandan. It’s a really good read, we hope you enjoy it.

Monday 3rd May 1971.  Just one day in a 66 year long life. Five children, 10 grandchildren and a couple of wives ago. A working life, a happy life, a fulfilled life, yet in all that life, that day, that Monday 39 years ago stands out clearly, a milestone, a marker to excitement, expectation, pride and above all friendship, togetherness and achievement.

It began early, after working the morning and fidgeting away an hour of the afternoon it was time. I climbed into my car, picked up my mate, one of four of us that travelled to all Arsenal games together. The other two plus my brother were travelling in the Ford escort that was our real communal football vehicle. Our plan was simple we would meet up inside the ground.

We travelled the back doubles avoiding main roads, but it was soon abundantly clear that something was up; mid afternoon and even the side roads were busy. Eventually at about  4 o’ clock we found a road full of parked cars, with a police no parking cone at the end, quickly we parked the car with it’s front against the cone, jumped out, moved the cone to the back of the car and walked off.

White Hart Lane was where all my family’s loyalties lay, only I was the rebel, a gooner among all those spuds. We were on enemy territory, god and what a sight a queue of people 5 or 6 deep all round the ground and into the distance. We knew immediately, absolutely no chance to get in there by normal means. What to do? We headed for the front of the queue, passing thousands of people, hundreds of coppers. A plan was needed this was serious. Finally the main iron gates into the ground were reached, luckily they were still closed, 50 yards beyond them the turnstiles stood mockingly empty, inviting, waiting for the hordes in the endless queue. A line of police stood turning away anyone trying to join the queue.

Right by the main gate stands the White Hart Pub from which the ground gets its name. It was open, we went in and got a couple of half’s (part of the plan –  couldn’t waste money) and then stood outside casually leaning against the pub wall right by the gates, sipping our beers. At 5.30 the gates are unlocked and pulled open inwards. Immediately the people at the front of the queue, who have waited there overnight, rush forward scattering the line of police. We drop our glasses literally, join the rush, and sprint to the turnstiles, pay our money and we are through and in. We must have been two of the first 50 in the ground, as the man says don’t you love it when a plan comes together.

Not only are we in the ground, but also in the enclosure, people were pouring in. We felt desperate for our mates, knowing they had no chance of getting in as they had intended leaving work a bit later.

Then amazingly there they were, pushing through the crowd to join us, I had reckoned they’d be without my brother, a spud, although he knew this ground like the back of his hand.  In those days there was a press gate in one of the side roads, he was a regular there, a few quid in the attendants hand and he and they were through. 52,000 thousand locked out and we had all made it. They had just abandoned the car in a traffic jam, if it got towed, tough. It wasn’t they found it after the match and drove home.

The game was a blur with chances at either end, gradually we got on top, a 0 – 0 draw would be enough to win the league. Then with 3 minutes to go, Geordie Armstrong centered, Ray Kennedy leaped and headed home. Pandemonium, the stadium muted with tension till then, erupted. White Hart became Red and White Hart, every Spud seemed to disappear under a sea of scarves, hats and frantic, cheering, hugging, jumping Gooners.  The Spurs team went berserk kicking all and sundry the intention seeming to be that we would not field a full team in Saturdays cup final to take their ‘double’ record away. The referee saw what was happening and sensibly blew the whistle early. Where and how all the spuds disappeared to has puzzled me over the years, but the stadium from the moment the goal went in belonged to The Arsenal.

We left deliriously happy, found the car. No ticket, moved the cone and moved off listening to the radio singing and laughing. The normal 1hr journey home took 2 hrs but we never really noticed, what a day, what a night and the cup final still to come just 5 days away.

I had intended to end this post right there, with the championship won and the first leg of the 1971 double secured. But the act of writing it down after all these years, set me to thinking just how immense the events surrounding The Arsenal of the double year and that week in particular were in my life. Enlightening me above all to the importance of friendship and loyalty in a changing world.

First some background, as I said earlier I came from a family of Spuds, my earliest football memories are of being taken to WHL by my father (I saw Stanley Mathews play there, for Stoke I think) and the cup finals on TV. In those far off days the Cup Final was the only game live on TV, although before that you could see short highlights of it on Pathe News at Saturday morning cinema.

We then moved from London to Hertfordshire about a mile from what is now Beckingham Palace the home of David and Posh. So a trip into London for a carless family was an expensive undertaking and not taken often. For this reason as we got older the annual BBC Cup Final broadcast became a big event in our house. My 2 mates from school both Gooners would come along together with a gaggle of friends and family of the Spud variety.

Mum would move back and forth recharging cups and glasses and topping up the buffet she had provided, whilst we huddled around the TV. Then came the 1961 final when Dads dreams came true and Spurs did the double and the family partied long into the night. Us three Gooners of course the butt of every joke going. We were 17 at the time, apprentices or trainees, just able to afford to go to the home games at Highbury by train. Later I got a car and all games became available. But always the Cup Final at my parents home for my mates and I was mandatory.

Fast forward to 1971 double year, my parents have moved to Southampton, as Dads progression through the company required him to relocate. Then a week before Christmas the world changed, whilst travelling the dual carriageway that predated the M3 my dad’s car was hit by a lorry that came through the trees that lined the central reservation, he and his passenger died instantly.

I was devastated, my Dad and great mate gone. But my three Arsenal mates took over and made sure that I was accompanied to every Arsenal game that season and as they moved inexorably towards the double the sadness and realisation of the leg pulling and verbal I was missing with Dad grew.

Came that final week in May, Spurs on the Monday a euphoric, poignant day safely negotiated. Now because we had saved our programme vouchers, we also had our cup final tickets. But as the five days past I realised that I could not go to Wembley leaving my Mum alone down in Southampton, I needed to go and watch it with her. I gave my ticket to my mates and told them to give them to a Arsenal fan outside the ground.

They said nothing until Friday, our snooker night, when we met up they dropped the bombshell, they too had given their tickets away, and the faithful Escort all ballooned and ribboned up was parked outside and  bound for Southampton in the morning.

Needless to say it was a marvelous day tinged with sadness of course, Liverpool were overcome. Willow missed one on  the near post, Charlie lay on his back and waited his adulation, GG claimed a goal he never touched, whilst Eddy the real scorer couldn’t give a monkeys at the time, Frank at the final whistle, told the world we had xxxxxxx done it. Whilst we in the smart bungalow in Southampton watched it all on the big new colour Television that Dad had brought for my mum just 6 months previously.

It helped a lovely lady start to come to terms with her loss, but it taught me the meaning of true friends, enriching my life beyond belief and now all these years later as retirees, we still meet and greet and talk about our Arsenal days.

So I owe the Arsenal a great deal. Remarkably just that one word conjures up memories, of triumphs and disasters, but most of all it reminds me, that a common interest cemented four young men into lifetime friends.

Finally, may I say, as a newcomer, that as I read your posts, I sense that same feeling of comradeship, and respect for each other. Great game football, great club the Arsenal.

By dandan