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”