It was a disappointing weekend – so to cheers us up here is our penultimate This time it is one of the forum regulars, Baldrick the Cat!
I left Brum in 1985, and the UK in 1996, so haven’t had too many opportunities to go to games in a long time, but the love for the team has never stopped. I’ve been following their fortunes from afar ever since, and shared the sorrows of the relegations & the joys of promotion, derby wins and finals vicariously through sites such as J&S So, Sunday was a HUGE deal for me. That said, due to a domestic cock-up, I ended up missing the first 20 minutes awaiting a lift from a Liverpool fan also living in Portland. We headed down to the ubiquitous Irish bar, arriving at 08:20 to meet a US friend who is a rabid fan of English football.
The bar was about half-full, with most punters in L’Arse shirts. I’d expected Arsenal to have started at high tempo, and I know we have been conceding some early goals recently, so I must confess, I was relieved to see us still at 0:0. I was however somewhat surprised to see Fahey in the team – nothing against him, I just hadn’t seen him as a game-changer!
Anyways, I was very pleased with the effort – we were more than a match for Arsenal’s “silky skills”, indeed we were entertaining & certainly not negative.
When Zigic scored, there was a collective groan from the bar, except for wild cheers from myself at the back, and another Bluenose who sprang up from one of the front tables. I was just hoping we could hang on to half-time, to up the pressure on them, so was hugely disappointed when RVP got in ahead of Jiranek. One of those things, a touch of class from Arsenal amidst a round of sustained pressure.
As the second half wore on, I’m sorry to say that my years of experience kicked in – as Arsenal kept the pressure on, with tiring legs, walking wounded in defence & an inability to clear our lines for any length of time, I was just hoping we could scrape thru’ to extra time, where we could regroup & maybe go at ’em again.
I’d just explained to my US colleague about Oba’s special goal celebration, and had my Liverpool mate laughing that we were unlikely to see it today, when the Miracle happened.
I have since heard the BRMB commentary, and I was Jon McCarthy… I was jumping about, hugging the other Bluenose, and giggling, just giggling. I was saying “crap goal”, and then cracking up again. The Arsenal fans were in absolute shock.
Extra time was an age, but when that final whistle blew, I was there with all you lucky beggars, celebrating like mad. In an interesting parallel, by that stage the bar was nearly empty, with only Bluenoses & neutrals to witness the celebrations & awards.
I have completely wasted the subsequent 48 hours of my life, re-watching the goals, and surfing for every scrap ever written about this heroic day. Y’know, whilst I would have loved to have been there to see it in person, it doesn’t actually matter. I was there with you all in spirit, and celebrated like never before.It’s been a helluva long time coming. It was extra-special because of the wait and I raise my glass (not Budweiser) to you all.
Oh – and I hang my head in shame for ever doubting the team or any individual. They played out of their skins to a man!