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January 22, 2007
Arsenal 2 – 1 Manchester United.
What a day!
17:44 Despair as it seems United have wrapped up the title by beating my beloved Gunners.
17:53 Total elation. Thierry Henry heads us to victory! Adrenalin surges through my body and 60,000 others.
It’s not always like today though. Last year I followed my team to Paris to watch the Champions League final. I swapped a good three days revision and time spent with my girlfriend, for three nights sharing a bed with my snoring father. I know another guy that forked out over £600 of his student loan after travelling there with no guarantee of a ticket. Reaching the front of the queue at half-time in the Gents, I found myself stood, flies open, in front a sink commandeered for the day by desperate fans. I did not wash my hands. What’s more, we lost 2-1. The journey home was hellish. It turned out not to be a good few days and all because my team didn’t manage to kick a ball in a net as many times as the opposition.
I vividly remember crying myself to sleep as a boy, after a former Spurs player struck the most unbelievably shot to beat us in the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup. When the team loses it can put a dampener on my entire weekend. It’s sad, but the first thing I do when I wake up is check Arseblog.com, newsnow.co.uk, the BBC and Skysports for any updates, just in case the others have missed something.
But it’s all worth it; even just for one day like today. It may not be logical, but who cares? It’s pretty difficult to explain to somebody who’s never supported a team; not least my girlfriend who doesn’t get it, despite my attempted analogies to her watching her favourite ballet. Perhaps the closest someone who doesn’t understand can get to such ‘enlightenment’ is by watching or reading Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby’s masterpiece about a life inextricably tied to football.
I’m aware that I’m an incredibly lucky fan. The person that got me into football, my Dad, is an Arsenal fan and a season-ticket holder at that. I get days like today more often than most. A friend of mine travels up from Oxford to see Burnley, the team that his Dad happens to support. Heaven knows the last time they beat Manchester United with a goal in the last minute. That said, he, like me and millions of others across the world, has a highly-illogical, but healthy obsession with watching that ball go in the net.