Anfield 89 , With The Superstar Raconteur Mel O’Reilly





From our archives 2014,you can follow Mel on twitter @MelOreilly1970 


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”

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

  1. I never tire of Mel’s musings, this and Frank’s epic tale of Maude should see the light of day every year


  2. Got a DVD of the whole ITV program somewhere I’ll have to dig it out. Went absolutely mental when that went in, thought when Micky messed up before was the last chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. No wonder I always took to Mel. A good, honest bredrin that never takes himself too seriously. I agree with George; one of two classics for supporters of PA.


  4. Bless you George & Shotts.


  5. Krystian Bielik has won promotion from league one with Charlton who beat Sunderland 2-1 with a 90th minute winner.


  6. My first time reading that. Brilliant!


  7. so with a few days to go till the EL final, I was just thinking how important it may be for AFC to win it, we really need CL football, not only for the extra cash, but for the attraction it is to the players, also so that we are not playing Thursday/Sunday so damn often, it really screws up the fixture list.
    For Arsenal to be title challengers we are looking at needing to concede half the number of goals we have each of the last two seasons, and we need to up our goals scored by 15-25 goals too, with those goals spread around the team. we need to turn about 5 of our 7 draws into wins, but much harder we need to turn about 7 of our 10 defeats into wins too.
    So to get to that level it would suggest we need several quality players both in defense and in forward positions. A much better team and squad will be required, the CL money and CL pull may very well be needed. As things stand our team/squad is losing Cech, Ramsey and Welbeck, so just to stand still we need players of their caliber, to improve we need clearly better players than them, good luck with that.


  8. Unbelievably big game for us Ed.

    Can’t really think of another occasion like it. Chance to win European trophy for us, and CL entry. After two years out already.

    Champions league a different deal for us than Utd, City, Chelsea as well, in that will have large impact on budget we have.

    I’ll sure as hell feel a good deal more optimistic about immediate future if we do it. Title long way off whatever happens, but with the bigger budget and signings that will allow would be hopeful of improved showing in league next year.


  9. What a great read on an wonderful day. Incredible what that team did, all down to what happened on the pitch, in those innocent pre Riley days before the PGMOL would have done their level best to ensure a very different outcome in such a game.
    On another note, looks like Newcastle about to join the ranks of the oilers. Possibly Leeds as well if they get back to the top? Then, Wolves well funded by a so called super agent, Everton seem to have rather a lot of cash, and don’t seem overly stressed by FFP.
    We are going to have to be very very smart to compete on our MO, however laudable our business model may be, we could end up strictly mid table, or lower in the funding league


  10. I hope that Steve Bould is not forced out this summer and the last dregs linking the ’71 boot room to the current squad (including ’89 and everything else!!!) are finally severed as then we will truly be at the end of an era.

    If it happens then, I hope not, then will all the fools begging over the years for “change” it understand what it is that they have finally got? The silence of the scarfists eh? They certainly bleated more then any lamb, but what can we say about the silence of the scarfists now other then such a turn was always predictable!

    The initial Sports Communication from that worm grubbing down underneath the islington gazette would indicate Raul’s or others’ Sports Communications on the matter. We shall see. Fingers crossed.

    “I really like Raul”
    Badges and t-shirts will be available to purchase from my online shop hand made by my personally selected team of Bangladeshi and Vietnamese Children all yours for rock bottom dollar not including my commission of course.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. < AW made to with being bottom of the funding league for almost a decade.

    Which is why many not a few Arsenal fans see that as AW's best period at the club.

    Then came the steady beginning of "Ivan's Transition" but before he had his mitts taken out the register he still managed to echo such signings as Wilford and Reyes etcwith the purchase of Ozil and Alexis (big money on big quality even though some including George might disagree on the latter heh!)


  12. Initially United and Chelsea’s money could not stop Arsenal, thus they had to use the referees, starting with Mike Riley. Rich describes the consequences “When Referees Ignore Foul Play”: https://uniteforvar.com/?p=2044

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Unai Emery: “I want us to be a chameleon team, able to keep possession, in static attack against close opponents, or to counterattack.”

    Liked by 1 person

  14. England Under-21 squad in full for the Euro championships

    Goalkeepers: Angus Gunn ( Southampton ), Dean Henderson ( Manchester United ), Freddie Woodman ( Newcastle United)

    Defenders: Jake Clarke-Salter ( Chelsea ), Jay Dasilva (Chelsea), Lloyd Kelly (AFC Bournemouth ), Jonjoe Kenny ( Everton ), Ezri Konsa (Brentford), Fikayo Tomori (Derby County, loan from Chelsea), Aaron Wan-Bissaka ( Crystal Palace )

    Midfielders: Harvey Barnes ( Leicester City), Hamza Choudhury (Leicester City), Kieran Dowell (Everton), Phil Foden ( Manchester City ), Morgan Gibbs-White (Wolverhampton Wanderers), James Maddison (Leicester City), Mason Mount (Derby County, loan from Chelsea), Ryan Sessegnon ( Fulham )

    Forwards: Tammy Abraham (Aston Villa, loan from Chelsea), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Demarai Gray (Leicester City), Reiss Nelson ( Arsenal ), Dominic Solanke (AFC Bournemouth)


  15. Does anyone know if theres any substance to the rumour that Chelsea have only sold about 600 tickets for the EL final?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sky Sports News
    ‏Verified account @SkySportsNews

    Dubai-based billionaire Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan says he has “agreed terms” with Mike Ashley to buy Newcastle.


  17. Just hope they enforce FFP agreements properly, so it’s not only ourselves, and one or two others that pay them any attention whatsoever

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Liked by 3 people

  19. just seen a clip of police officers in Baku stopping a couple of Arsenal fans who were wearing Mkhitaryan shirts, I’m not sure why but it somewhat reminds me of the abuse James McClean gets for not wearing a poppy


  20. Emery’s Baku press conference: full transcript
    Rob Kelly 28 May 2019

    If Unai Emery is feeling any nerves ahead of the Europa League final, he did not show any sign of it in his pre-match press conference.

    Read on for a full transcript:

    on how he’s feeling…

    This answer not easy. I am feeling well in this moment with a new opportunity for us and for me. In my career I can win and can lose but every day I keep moving ahead – and my mind is the same.

    on Cech’s history with Sparta Prague – and whether he will start…

    Sorry, I am not thinking about Sparta Prague with all my respect. We are thinking of our final and we have a big challenge tomorrow. We have two targets, but the most important target is the possibility to win a title and enjoy a moment like that. Each title is very important for a team like Arsenal and Chelsea in England and in Europe. We want to enjoy this moment thinking of our supporters. As for the first XI tomorrow, I want to say it to the players first and I am going to say it tomorrow. I can speak about Petr Cech a lot, but above all he is a great man, a great professional, amazing in his behaviour with us and it will be last match tomorrow because he decided to retire. I want to do something important with him in the last moment of his career – and this has been my conversation with him, playing or not playing. We want to win for us.

    on whether he feels responsible to deliver a European trophy…

    I don’t feel or think only for me. We have everybody wanting to do something important and for example we have something important here with this title. We deserve to play this. We did a a good way in this competition and we feel a lot do something together in this competition. We started with two targets, one is to win the Europa League and the second is reaching the Champions League through the Premier League. We can do two objectives tomorrow. We can win one title and also play with the opportunity to go to the Champions League. Above all we want to enjoy and play with all our good spirit and also I think this competition is improving a lot and over the last years big teams have played in the final. I hope that in the future Chelsea and Arsenal could be a final in the Champions League! We have a lot of very good players and some of the best players in the world, so it’s a very good moment for football in the world.

    on whether winning the Europa League would surpass Wenger’s achievements…

    All he did was amazing in this club and my respect for him is more than the top. After he gave this team lot of important things with new football culture. I want to hold that and improve things. We spoke when I arrived here what I wanted to give Arsenal. One is to be competitive in all situations and I learned a lot from Arsene Wenger as a coach and also I have big respect for him. I want to help Arsenal to achieve everything and all the possibilities in our way. One is a Europa League title, and another is to keep improving to achieve the best position in the football world for Arsenal. I think in the history, the present and the future Arsenal will be in the 10 best teams of the world. Our objective is to achieve that.

    on the Champions League…

    The Champions League is our objective and we knew it was going to be difficult when we started the season. And now we are with the possibility to achieve that and our challenge tomorrow is to win one title and have the possibility to play next year in the Champions League. But we are in our process and our progress and now I can say the same as when we started: it is going to be difficult. But we have the possibility tomorrow and I think we can be first happy with this challenge tomorrow and with a very big responsibility to do all we can to achieve that.

    on Cech…

    I respect him a lot. His career is amazing. First, like a person and second like a professional goalkeeper, I think he deserved us to trust in him. Not because I am saying to you here, but because his career says to us that he is a gentleman. Tomorrow he can start or cannot start. I am going to decide. But both for him is done with respect. Really, I think how can we not believe in him?

    on if there’s more desire to win this competition now due to the Champions League qualification…

    I explained last week in the press conference, I started playing in this Europa League when its name was UEFA Cup. And in 10 years it improved a lot. When UEFA’s direction decided to give the winner the possibility to play Champions League three years ago, I think it is also one important step for the teams. Above all, for example in the domestic competition like in England, because the top four is really hard to achieve with a lot of important teams, in Spain is the same and maybe in Germany and Italy. For example, Lazio and Milan are out of the next Champions League. The Europa League improved a lot I think in the last 10 years. One, the decision from UEFA to give the possibility to play the Champions League if you win, I think it helps it to improve more. I think now and in the last years with Sevilla, but in the last years for example Atletico Madrid, Olympique de Marseille and also Manchester United. I think now a lot of teams, and an example is also this year with Chelsea and Arsenal, they are playing this final with great teams in the world. All the teams cannot do one way into the Champions League, so this way is also important. Firstly because it’s one title and after I think the Champions League, the Europa League is the second-most important trophy you can win. To battle the best teams, like we battled Napoli, we battled Valencia, and now the final and the possibility to battle Chelsea, it gave us this challenge in an important way and to show our capacity in this competition.

    on if it gives us an advantage that this final means more if we win…

    I think not. Because the first thing is, in Chelsea, they are in the same idea. Chelsea won this competition with Rafa Benitez and in this moment there is not the possibility for home to go from Europa League to Champions League. Why is the reason? Because one objective in all the teams in the world is to play for the possibility to win a title. I think the first objective is to play for the possibility to win one title. The second is to also help us to achieve the Champions League through this competition. But the first target for Arsenal, and for Chelsea, is to play to show our supporters and win for our supporters and us this one title.

    on how frustrating it is for him that ours and Chelsea’s allocation of tickets for this final was small…

    It’s not in my hands. I played also a Super Cup final with Sevilla against Barcelona in Tbilisi in Georgia three years ago. They have their reasons to play here. I must respect this decision. After, yes I prefer to play with our supporters here. I prefer if a lot of supporters can come here, from us and Chelsea, from London. But it’s difficult to fly here. Tomorrow, there are going to be a lot of supporters, first in England and second in all the world, because Arsenal and Chelsea have a lot of support around the world. Here is the same, there can be a lot of supporters from Azerbaijan or from closer to this country to help us here in the stadium. I am thinking tomorrow that this stadium, a big stadium, an amazing stadium, full with all the supporters from Arsenal and Chelsea and also from football, because this is one match with two very great teams. Really I prefer to be with our supporters but we know we are going to play for our supporters here and our supporters in London.

    Copyright 2019 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.


  21. “on whether winning the Europa League would surpass Wenger’s achievements…”

    oh brother. Sometimes I cant believe we live in a world where such questions are asked.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. I enjoyed reading that transcript from Emery’s pre-match presser. During the early parts of this season he came across as his words were not too carefully chosen. He certainly came a long way from the initial “esplain”.

    Nice one Unai.


  23. The performances against the CL teams in the Europa have been the balm that has the pain of that late too late triple sub when chasing a goal at home to Brighton that didn’t include any striker or goal scorer (WTF kind of mushrooms were they eating that day?)

    Hopefully with an official applying the rules of association football, with a partisan local crowd supporting every touch from Ozil against the Russian owned team (assuming the coach selects Arsenal’s best footballer for this football match), the Gunners will pull out a similar performance as seen against Valencia & Napoli. COYG.


  24. < Balm that eased the pain


  25. Never tire of reading that Mel, f**king brilliant!


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