Horseshit, burgers and Highbury; Arsenal rolling back the years with house move

Week Six – You’re Still My Arsenal

This is a relatively short piece from me, due to the fact that I am
moving flats, and as I write I’m not sure how much football I will get to watch
this week.

I wasn’t going to write anything
at all in fact, but the bizarre twist of fate involved in my move this week set
me off thinking about a few things, and I find myself in a position to bring
this week
s piece to you without even including any of the
football I’m not sure I’m going to see.

At the risk of boring you, allow
me to elaborate on this twist of fate (feel free to pop off and make yourself a
coffee before reading on). 

Due to the fact that children
have this bloody annoying habit of getting bigger as they get older, we are
having to move out of our current flat into a larger three bedroom one, and by
the most coincidental of coincidences, we are moving into the flats I grew up
in, handily within walking distance of the Emirates, which of course means they
were also within walking distance of Highbury.

This brings me onto the next
twist of fate involved in my move (stick with me, I’m gonna talk about Arsenal
soon), because as it turns out, the flat we are moving into is the very flat
that a childhood friend of mine lived in! Couldn’t make it up could ya? My
friend Paul who I have long since lost touch with, was an Arsenal supporter
too, of course, and we used to go to Highbury with a few others when we were
kids.

When standing in what was Paul’s
old bedroom just the other day, I was immediately transported back to calling
round for Paul before we made our way to a game, watching him take his Junior Gunner
membership card out of his very neat drawer in his incredibly tidy bedroom. An
unhealthily tidy room considering our teenage years. Fucking weirdo. 
I instantly remembered that buzz from going to a game back then;
the buzz from just
holding that Junior Gunners membership card, the smell of horseshit and burgers
outside the ground. The buzz of going through the turnstiles, putting that
little voucher you got every game inside the wallet holding your membership card,
then taking up our position either at the end of the Junior Gunners enclosure
in front of where the away fans were usually seated, or in the North Bank.

That buzz hasn’t changed for me
one bit as I’ve grown older. The faces may have changed, the stadium has even
changed, but The Arsenal has remained constant. The Arsenal will always be
there.

Going through the turnstiles has
now been replaced by an electronic gate without even removing your ticket from
your wallet, the smell of horseshit and burgers, although still around, has
been replaced for me by the smell of beer and cigarettes from the pub before
the game. Taking up my position in the stadium is now a case of greeting the
same people you see most games. 

Paul’s old room will now be my
boy
s room, and in the years to come hopefully he’ll
have someone coming to call round for him to go to The Arsenal.

Funny how of all the feelings and
emotions that came flooding back from my childhood when standing in the flat,
the overriding one was calling round for Paul on a match day.

Along with being older and my priorities
having changed for the better, being blessed with a wonderful loving family,
still having my health and all that, those childhood memories serve as a
reminder of the reality that there are more important things in life than
winning and losing football matches, and that being an Arsenal supporter is
something built into you that is good in your life.

To that end, please forgive my
total disdain for you if you choose to defer your support because you don’t
like the manager.

Or if I can’t really relate to
anyone going into one about how they “want their Arsenal back”, because in my
mind my Arsenal never went anywhere and will always be there, and that’s the
point, the point I struggled to make throughout the summer and the transfer
window – no matter who we do or don’t sign during whatever window, no matter
what the result this weekend – The Arsenal will still be there, and I will
still be Arsenal, and proud.

I’m sure we are all conscious of
getting carried away as it’s such early days, but with the feel
good factor
returning to the club at the moment, and with the team seemingly continuing the
momentum from the end of last season, maybe our “Arsenal Under Arsene Wenger”
lives are about to come full circle, as I have found my own life doing so this
past week.

Football mirroring your life eh?
Someone really ought to write a book about that…..

Darren
Berry


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