Friday, 24 May 2013

St Michael's Day.

Before Football was invented by Sky in August 1992, we all played exhibition football in something called the "First Division" - it was a competitive league of football that was normally dominated by Liverpool in it's final years and although no-one has ever seen or will ever see drama to match the Sergio Aguero goal last season (or is it 2 seasons ago?), let me take you back to 1989.

First off, if any of you couldn't pick the sarcasm up from that first paragraph, I suggest you go no further. Now that's cleared up....1988/1989 season was the season of my first ever Arsenal game which I've bored you to the hilt about eleventy billion times, I had "followed" Arsenal for the 2 seasons before this and when I say followed, I was 4-6 years old so I don't think I would be in the running for fan of the year. Somewhere upstairs I have the season review on VHS which was voiced by Martin Tyler, I can visualise the opening day 5-1 win at FA Cup winners Wimbledon, winning 3-2 at White Hart Lane where all Tottenham fans could care about was Paul Gascoigne's goal, losing his boot and snapping the hoardings in half. We actually had won a trophy by the start of October with the prestigious Mercantile Credit Centenary Trophy, a competition devised by the Football League to celebrate the 100th anniversary with a 8-team knockout of the top 8 sides the previous year, we beat Manchester United 2-1 in the final at Villa Park. The season carried on at a steady pace, moved to the top of the league with a 2-0 win at Highbury in the NLD and followed that up with a 3-1 win at Goodison. The League Cup (2-legged back to start) had seen us lose at Liverpool after needing 2 replays and West Ham knock us out of the 3rd Round after a replay which had seen Arsenal come from 2 goals down to draw. It was nip and tuck with Liverpool throughout the rest of the season which is an utter credit to them considering the horrific scenes at Hillsborough, in fact Liverpool drew the next game after Hillsborough with Everton and then went on to win the next 5 games which included the FA Cup Final, this run they went into the final game of the season only needing a draw with Arsenal to clinch the trophy and on closer inspection Liverpool could lose the game 1-0 and still win the title on goal difference.

It was a Friday Night, I was 6 1/2 and my father worked shifts at a Microchip company in Milton Keynes so  whatever happened, he'd have to go to work after the game so I was allowed to stay up to watch it (7:45 kick off) - I can remember all the Arsenal squad presenting the Liverpool crowd with flowers to mark the tragedy at Hillsborough which I thought was a lovely touch and subsquently learnt that Arsenal usually do things the right way and with class, presenting the Hillsborough Fund with a £25,000 cheque. 

The First Goal

I'll level with you, I had no idea what a direct or indirect free-kick was back in those days so had no idea why Liverpool were complaining, free kick whipped in and Smudge "flicked" it into the far corner. 1-0. But would it count? I can't tell if he touched it or not but when the ref pointed to the centre circle it was relief, I remember developing a tension headache of mythical proportions, and to put into context we were leading at Liverpool where we hadn't won since 1974-75.

Very vivid moments were to follow, Pat Rice sitting in the dugout fidgeting, Michael Thomas missing an easier chance than the one he stuck away, Kevin Richardson going down with cramp and at the angle he was laying, it looked like a leg was missing and it was in this interlude where we had John Barnes rallying the troops and who could forget Steve McMahon's "1 minute" hand gesture, time had run out. Or so we had thought....

The Second Goal

I had wanted to go to bed now, I think I was slowly dissolving into tears, I couldn't watch the ending but was forced to and something I am very thankful to my folks for that, we all know what happened next and it was the year that started my love of watching Football, that one Michael Thomas goal from a lucky rebound had changed the entire course of the league season in a manner of minutes, Arsenal had won a league title on goals scored as they both had 76 points and +37 goal difference but by virtue of scoring more goals, Arsenal were champions.

I had hoped if we had signed with Adidas they would have been able to replicate the shirt for the 25th anniversary in some way but alas not to be.

On a far more serious matter, I've just learned of the death of Scott @ozgooner at the shocking age of 36. I would like to pass on my condolences to the family and friends of Scott. Rest In Peace.

1 comment:

  1. Oh happy days! I was sat on the floor cross legged and somehow managed to fly towards the ceiling when we scored at the end. Still not sure how I jumped from a sitting position and I still get the chills whenever I watch 'that' goal. Magical.