Anfield 89 , With The Superstar Raconteur Mel O’Reilly

Mel tells me that I should remember it is the anniversary of the great night at Anfield. He also tells of the the need for his award winning account of that night ,to be published today. And on this date every year. Forever.

This wonderful story was written by Mel, for another blog ,then picked up by Arsenal.com (for a reason no reasonable man can determine) .So here we are . Third in line.

Still ,nice of him to still remember his old mate.

Here it is then,Enjoy


“We’ll win cos we’re the arsenal !”,eternal optimists or deluded fools?

Not sure which camp I fell into as we boarded the coaches on the Avenell road and that chant went up.

I was still cockahoop at a workmate selling me his ticket (£12 including the coach !)a couple of days before this remarkable Friday.

I was at the game against Wimbledon when most believed our title dream had gone,but even if it was to most Gooners, as far as I was concerned if it was mathematically possible,I was gonna see us give it a go,anyway .I’d failed maths O level a couple of years previous so stick me in the deluded camp.

I was traveling alone (most of the mates I knocked about with at the time weren’t really into football,more acid house,the stone roses,ecstasy, raves and failing to chat up girls from what I remember. I was too, but Arsenal was “my thing” always was and always will be and in my 18 years I’d only seen us lift an fa cup and a league cup.

The mood going up to Liverpool  on the coach was helped along with some fierce drinking and singalongs . My Irish genes helped me put a good performance in on both counts,.I  remember as we closed in on our date with destiny that the driver told us it was touch & go whether we’d make kick off.In fact when the boys in yellow & blue ran on the pitch before kick off with the flowers for the Liverpool fans still mourning their 96 brothers and sisters who had died weeks earlier at Hillsborough just because they went to a game(this of course is why this fixture had been postponed and rescheduled to the Friday night after the cup final which tonight’s opponents had won)we were watching it on the coaches portable TV until the Merseyside constabulary decided to give us a fast track escort to the ground.

As we poured off  the coach that chant went up and for the first time I genuinely thought we’d do it.Nothing to do with the drink you understand!.I just fancied us(told you I was deluded).

Once inside, tucked into a corner,I found myself wedged up alongside a Demis Roussos lookalike(look him up kids),anyone that’s been to a massively important game and tells you they remember everything is a liar,the first half was gone in a flash but my new best mate Demis assured me that nil nil after 45 is good and George’s plan was working.

I  remember thinking Liverpool were subdued and there for the taking, and Arsenal were “at it” especially Rocky and Richardson,not surprising really Rocastle was truly one of us and Richardson used to tackle people with his face if he had too! We weren’t going down without a fight that was for sure.

Seven minutes into the second half we got our goal, an Alan Smith header that despite the Liverpool players insisting he hadn’t touched it,the linesman agreed with the 4000 behind him that Smith had,of course he had!, game on!

With about 15 minutes left we looked like we’d get another,Michael Thomas through one  onone with Grobbelar ,but he scuffed it straight at him.

“Don’t worry we’ll get one more clear cut chance” the portly Greek love god next to me whispered. I had my doubts though,neither side were creating that many chances but without hope and all that heh?

As the minutes ticked by that hope was strangling us in our corner but then in the last minute it happened….he was there again. Thomas coolly lifted the ball over Grobbelar and pandemonium was unleashed

Magical doesn’t do it justice.

After the initial going mental bit I remember Demis taking me in his arms, we embraced like grown men only did in at funerals and New Years Eve’s party’s,he could have held me “forever and ever” (I told you!,look him up), there were grown men around us in tears.Remember this was before the days of some blokes letting us down by wearing Ugg boots and applying fake tan but it was beautiful nonetheless.

The players and the trophy malarkey after was a bit of a haze.

We were all still congratulating each other but I do remember Rocastle,his face lit up and his eyes dancing,you see he was our bloke on the pitch despite MT getting the goal ,Rockys medal was ours as well and when he smiled we smiled.

One last bear hug from Demis and soon I was my back to the coach.

Leaving the ground was interesting. Some of the  Scousers  were fantastic, others less so! in fact i would like to thank the 3 Graeme Souness lookalikes that chased me back to the coach helping break the 100m drunken idiot dash world record.I think it was their encouraging words that did it,or the things they said they were gonna do if they got hold of me.

As I waved them goodbye from the safety of the coach there wasn’t a lot of noise at first,just exhausted Gooners with stupid great grins on their faces not believing what we’d just witnessed.

As soon as the first miles to London sign appeared the celebrations commenced.Not sure Ive ever seen drinking like it!.

All the while I was thinking “how did we just do that? How? Cos we’re The Arsenal that’s how”

30 comments on “Anfield 89 , With The Superstar Raconteur Mel O’Reilly

  1. Pearls before Swine. So good it’s been re-posted Christ knows how many times. One big hit is all you need though. Just ask Black Lace.

    Hope George is paying the correct royalties here Mel, genius is often shamelessly exploited and it’s a crying shame.


  2. I dont know about that Harry, but if I can get those pictures of me and that Donkey back that Mel has , I can stop publishing it.


  3. Tear to the eye lump to the throat Mel


  4. Marvellous again. Looking forward already to next year’s airing 🙂


  5. Mel’s dreamy one minute affair with the Demis Roussos look-alike is so touching. Brings a tear to my eye every time I read his story. LOL.


  6. Mel must be banged up again.


  7. great arsenal story.
    the best kind of victory, a hard earned victory. up the arsenal!


  8. The best kind of victory, a hard earned victory, …it’s the Arsenal way.

    Thanks too to Ekaterina for the last post.



    Thank you the Daily Mirror for that brilliant piece of foresight before this wonderful game.
    Thanks Mel. Yet again.

    26th May 1989.
    Probably too many gooners use this as their computer password.

    ………………..oh, shit.
    I’ll be back soon….


  10. http://t.co/Ed5umtL6YV

    It’s a funny old game. 🙂


  11. I’ve been looking for this famous cliche/quote on players and tactics, haven’t found it yet but I found these:

    Helenio Herrera: The first task is to get to know the players really well-watching them as individuals in training and in match play-to see what is good in their natural game. Then, and only then, can we begin to outline the general tactics

    Lionel Messi: We are at a good level. Our secret is that we play the same way against each opponent.

    Dennis Bergkamp: Behind every kick of the ball there has to be a thought.

    “My father used to say, ‘If you want to know the artist, look at the art’.
    He was usually talking about Stanley Matthews or Don Bradman when he said it.” David Peace, Nineteen Seventy Four


  12. finsbury at 1:55 pm – I know you posted that link to ArsenalFan TV just for laughs. Except we all know they take themselves very seriously. Can you imagine a club being run on the ups and downs of fan emotion?


  13. Shottagunna,

    That video compilation is comedy gold although I wanted to throw up when they started chanting na na na… …… you know, after calling the guy assorted names previously. I commend whoever put the clips together but it shouldn’t be too difficult really. Arsenal Fans TV as led by Robbie are nothing but exploiters of prevailing sentiments amongst Gooners. PA and Untold Arsenal seem to be the only site on the web where one can get positive Arsenal news and contextual reports when things are not going well for the club.

    I am truly grateful that fans have no control over the management of our beloved club. The most moronic of amongst us are usually the loudest and the most opinionated.


  14. Cheers George,nice to see it get an airing again-it’s a bit like The Great Escape-on every year at the same time-bagsy-I’m Steve McQueen!


  15. Shotta, Boo

    I bumped into one or two of those in the clips on my tour of duty on Saturday night. They’re alright really, not the smartest but trust me they don’t pretend to be. Bit like me really! If they’ve been fed some mouldy giblets then they’re not the first and they won’t be the last to suffer from that. Consistent propaganda works unfortunately, it is what it is.
    It is those who’ve been exposed for having consistently inaccurate malicious and bigoted agendas that cannot or choose not to deny any associations with R&W Holdings that I don’t have any time for.

    E.G. The Redzone slur.
    Ancelloti. khadera. They got away with it. Shades of The F Words bruised bone, Vermaelan or Wilshere rushing themselves back. They’re footballers. It’s what they do. The managers will back their players when they say they are up for it…it’s the way it has always been. And I don’t need thirty years experience as a professional physio to work that out. Very. Smelly. Agenda.

    Looking forward to the next podcast, I think. Might have to give it a miss!


  16. Mel, fantastic!
    To my shame I was not an Arsenal fan at that stage – not a fan of any team as I thought football was silly. (I know, I know, blame my upbringing.)

    But seeing the archive video and reading your description I can live the feelings vicariously. Last weekend’s FA Cup is the nearest I can come to the overwhelming roller-coaster of emotion.

    @ Bootoomee and Shotta
    Exactly right. I found it quite funny. I don’t have any issue with how they feel, but I do have a problem with the stance that not being able to see past your current emotions is an essential attribute of management or an indicator of how much you care. It’s not either of those things.


  17. @ Finsbury
    Spot on as well re the Red Zone agenda.


  18. As good or better the third time, Mel! Great day in the history of this wonderful club. Still celebrating another dramatic bit of history made just a little while ago.


  19. I’m very curious about these pictures with the donkey. Any links please.


  20. PG

    If I wanted to write something for PA, how would I contact you to let you look at it? (Won’t be as good as Mel’s piece, of course, but you can’t have that quality every day!)


  21. Merlot, I will Email my address on your Email that you use to post here.
    Or are you on twitter?


  22. I can never forget the day. We went as a football team, which is what we were, maybe 7 or 8, to Nyathi’s place, as he boasted a spanking new big screen TV and the match was to be shown live. Everyone wanted to see it, in those there were no sports bars; Steve and I were the only Arsenal fans, the rest Liverpool with their European and domestic success and crazy Jungle Man between the posts, a hugely popular figure. Nyathi cooked a lot of meat, goche goche style (barbecue). And we brought 2 crates, maybe 3. The magical goal came. I think on that day the whole team instantly became Arsenal.

    Thanks Mel.


  23. Looking forward to George and Pedro on a podcast.

    I’m surprised Sky Sports haven’t been hyping this up like Froch vs. Groves.


  24. Mel,

    Fantastic stuff even after the third time of reading. I snapped a pencil I happened to be holding and threw myself into and bounced off my sofa three times after Michael Thomas scored….


  25. Thanks you lot,really appreciate it.


  26. Cant believe Graham. Terrible selection. What’s he playing Thomas for? When will The Arsenal ever do tactics? Fuck the Board. They’ll bring some clueless foreigner in next. If its nil nil at half time Im switching off.


  27. Mel, you superstar! Did you notice that Arsenal.com also reposted your article today?


  28. Arsenal win the FA cup and Charles Bronson is so pissed off he smothers himself in Lurpak, because he is a spud, and attacks 12 prison guards


  29. Many have spoken and wrirtten about Anfield ’89 and it’s probably Arsenal’s very own Beatles’ moment, where more claimed to have seen them play than could have possibly fit into the Cavern club/Anfield.

    But Mel’s account remains, for me, THE seminal fans-eye account of that historic encounter. And whilst it deserves re-posting on at least an annual basis (with options in the aftermath of ANY Liverpool encounter), this is one of those pieces that really should be immortalised on one of the walls of the now ‘Arsenalised’ Emirates stadium, or club museum.

    For an article homing in on one particular period of our history, it is indeed timeless.


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