Today I am absolutely delighted to welcome back Antonia Hawken to Gunners Town. Antonia was a feature on the old ‘Welcome to the Gunners Town’ before the new management and wrote as ‘Gooner Girlfriend.’ Her last post was in January 2012 just after losing to Man United and can be read here. Delighted to have her back for what she says is a one off! – You decide.
Returning to write a one-off post for The Gunners Town is sort-of like meeting up with that friend you promised to have that pint with sometime in the future/when your schedule allowed it/if the two of you could remember. It’s a bit embarrassing that it’s taken this long, but, hey, it’s nice to see ya. My round?
When I moved to London after graduating I promised I would make contact and put pen to paper again. As you’re about to discover, I had plenty of reasons to construct a witty narrative, but, you know, life happened. I even moved to Stoke Newington, a 15 minute walk from the Emirates, much to the delight of my still Arsenal-devoted other half.
So, a few quick updates.
Yes, I’m still a Gooner Girlfriend
Yes, I’m with the same Gooner. I know. Scary.
I’ve been to three Arsenal games (two at home, one at Wembley)
For those of you who frequent the Arsenal home turf, you may recognize me as that blonde girl who looked a little out of place working behind the bar of The Gunners Pub (Season 2012-2013). I used to dance along to The Away Boys while creating a dubious shandy. No clue? Never mind.
Who’d have thought after spending the initial years of what is now a 5.5 year-old relationship with a season ticket holder, cursing Wenger for stealing my man away, I’d be pouring pints for the finest fans in the League. Yes, I was working to earn a spot of extra dosh while completing a Masters in journalism, but I could have chosen to work anywhere. One regular even thought to reward my enthusiasm for the team by buying me my own Arsenal shirt which I wore to the Arsenal v Hull match earlier this month.
(Note – Arsenal has never lost a match that I have attended. Just saying.)
A particularly fond memory of that time was working during the hotly anticipated Arsenal v Spurs home match. Still getting to grips with the lingo, but understanding the passion and anticipation this fixture created, I watched with interest. The pub was packed. Voices were raised. I probably fell over once or twice collecting glasses thanks to the slippery floor.
Fans with prized tickets finished their drinks and marched to the grounds, chants of “What do we think of Tottenham?” repeated as they went. Others remained, bar stools quickly fought over. The game began. Packets of nuts were passed between the bar staff as we braced ourselves for what lay ahead.
One member of staff was a Man U fan. No idea if he still works there, but I digress.
Whistle. Kick off. Run after run was made, but neither side managed to score. Things were tense. The regular Arsenal grumbles began to surface. Shots of Wenger pacing around the box filled the screen. But then, it happened. I don’t remember who, and I certainly don’t remember how, but a player in the hallowed red scored. Time seemed to stand still as the packed pub erupted with noise. I raised my eyes to the Heaven’s, thanking the football gods, to be met with a shower of alcohol. Stunned and sticky, I gasped, turned to my colleagues, all of whom had disappeared. Or, so I thought.
“Babe, down here.”
Wiping Fosters from my face, I looked down to see every member of staff hiding/shielding themselves from the downpour beneath me. Clearly, this was a regular occurrence against Spurs. The drink shower, not the goal (I joke). No one had told me.
And so it continued. Every time Arsenal scored, the publicans tossed their pint in the air in triumph. I returned home that night drenched in God knows what, thanks to Arsenal reminding Tottenham that London is, in fact, red. It wouldn’t be the last time I found myself covered in a dubious substance thanks to the Gunners.
So, why am I banging on about games of days past? Why recollect that particular day? I guess what I’m trying to say is, I get it. I appreciate the enthusiasm and dedication. I respect the fans who travel week after week to support their team. I’m grateful for the kindness I received while working at The Gunners, and the fun had. Arsenal fans really are a unit, and I’m proud to say I’m a member.
I stand by my initial hesitation and the fact that the Arsenal squad take precedence over me on certain days of the week, but I’ve matured: I’ve learnt to share. I put a televised match on to check the score, ask the Mr how it went, and am occasionally rewarded for my actions. Relationships are about compromise.
Anyway, as my Gooner reminded me the other day: You can change your wife, but you can’t change your football team.
Want more Gooner Girl let us now please!