A look back at my favourite moment as a gooner.
The 26 May will always be our day. The Mancs would later try and claim it following winning some cheap European bauble but the 26 May 1989 will live forever in Arsenal folklore. The day George Graham’s young Arsenal came of age in the most exciting finish to a season ever despite later claims from Sky.
The day started with a trip to the high street (Waltham Cross if you’re interested) to stock up on newspapers for the coach trip. Now I had my Arsenal shirt on so expected some banter so was not surprised to recive abuse from a Spurs supporter. The fact he stopped his job of bin emptying to do it gave me a chuckle.
Papers in hand it was off to the bus station to get the 279 bus to Manor House. Severe traffic (was to be a theme of the day) meant I had to jump off at Seven Sisters and get the underground. I arrived at Highbury with 10 minutes to spare and found an empty seat on coach number 5. It’s at this point I should mention I was travelling alone. The rest of my usual gang had decided to give it miss following the postponement of the original game. But I was soon chatting to those around me. There was a distinct camaraderie amongst those making the trip.
The coaches pulled out and all went well until the mother of all traffic jams on the M1. It was a perfect storm, bank holiday, rail strike, Friday and me desperate to get to a game.
Despite the best efforts our coach driver we pulled into the outskirts of the Liverpool five minutes before the 8:00pm kick off. It was at this point we were joined by a member of the local constabulary. He assured us that due to the traffic problems the kick off had been delayed.
As we got off the coach at about ten past eight the noises coming from inside Anfield made it obvious the game was in full flow. Cue mass rush to get through the turnstiles. Now given the reason this game had been postponed the fact kick off was not delayed was criminal. The plod who lied on the coach showed the disdain football supporters were held in at the time. We arrived on our corner of the terrace just in time see Uncle Bouldy’s first half header cleared off the line.
You all know how the game panned out so I won’t go over the details again but just give you a few memories that are still strong today.
- The chorus of ‘we’re proud of you’ that continued throughout half time. We out sung the Kop all night.
- Smudger’s header to put us one up.
- Liverpool players protesting. Thankfully David Hutchinson was calm and strong enough to make the correct decision.
- Steve McMahon and his one minute shenanigans.
- Time seemingly suspended as Mickey Thomas clipped the ball over Grobbelaar.
- The explosion of joy and relief amongst the travelling Gooners.
- The relief at the final whistle.
- Liverpool supporters generously staying behind to acknowledge the new champions.
Now this is the point the night went a bit wrong for me. Thomas scored, I leapt in the air and my glasses launched themselves high into the night sky never to be seen again. Without my glasses (I now wear contacts) I can barely see my hand at the end my arm.
So after watching some blurry objects cavort around the pitch with the league trophy, or so I’m told, I made my way back to coach 5. The trip back was long but happy. I’m told the players coach passed us at one point, but I couldn’t see.
After getting off the coach I made my way to Manor House to get the bus home. At this point I realised I had a problem. Yes I could see the busses but I really couldn’t see the numbers on the front. So a call to Dad at 3:00 in the morning. Fortunately I have a great dad who is a gooner to boot. Once he finished laughing at my predicament he was more than happy to come and get me. And thus ended my greatest day as a Gooner.
Footnote: Many Gooners believe the Press have it in for Arsenal. It’s someting I agree with to an extent and I think it goes back to the 26 May 1989. This was the day Kenny Dalglish’s all conquering side would complete an emotional double having already seen off Everton in the FA Cup final. Unfortunately George and his players had not read the script. And there are many Liverpool based media still bitter about this. Yes Alan Hansen I’m looking at you! Liverpool would win one more title but 26 May 1989 was the beginning of the end of their domination.
Warren writes a blog for www.notanotherarsenalblog.wordpress.com