My original Arsenal and me story ended at the Liverpool away semi final league cup 1978.
That night almost deserves a memoir of its own I was still a mid teen.My brother took me under his wing and I joined his mates on one of many Specials leaving Euston that afternoon.The Specials of that time had no alcohol restrrictions.I recall stacks of cans all overt the carriages.Its the nearest experience I could envisage to the cannon fodder going over the trenches! Everyone older than me was on the drink and were boisterous and blasie on what lay ahead in Liverpool!
I got my first viewing of the All cockneys die ! graffiti on the approach to Lime St.The fans went charging off the train,some could barely walk!I recall one older fella running round chanting at the foot fall in Lime St Station “Where were you at Peterloo!!”
Our fans were wandering off haphazardly ,but to where?This was Liverpool not Norwich and its a long way to Anfield from the station! The media waxed lyrical about the bubbly Scousers ,but football fans of that time knew a darker undercurrent surrounded both Liverpool teams!.
We were luckily met at the station by one of our groups of Everton relations! He took us to an Everton pub.We had seats in the ground and when we arrived at our seats along the side, we were met by an awesome sight.We had thousands of fans in the Annie road end!I had not seen Arsenal away support like it!
Scousers say it was one of the biggest away turn outs of that era!The noise willed the team on and we took the lead!
Liverpool were in their prime in the league and Europe.Daglish was at his peak as a playrer.They turned around the lead and won 2-1
It was when we got back to Lime St for the late train that we saw the results of the nasty side of Livderpool.Many of our fans were nursing cuts and bruises,having been picked off in small groups The Arsenal lads that stuck together had safety in numbers,though I am told at times the journey back was like the film of that era ,The Warriors!The police at the station on horses drew batons on our fans queueing up for the trains!
The return leg at Highbury was the following week.The mood among those who has experienced the away game was angry.If scouswers cane down in numbers revenge was going to be sought.(I know football has changed for the better.I am just trying to convey the feelings of the time))
But what did happen that night?Nothing.We drew the game 0.0 as European experienced Liverpool shut us out to gain the result they needed to go through to Wembley!No Liverpool fans showed in the ground,which was a prudent action for them,but our fans lost respect for Livderpool.How could you not travel to a league cup semi?
We were a cup team that season. League no chance. Notts Forest under Clough straight up into the Division were winning the league and Liverpool second!
In the FA Cup.we reached a London derby semi at Stamford Bridge against Orient!I am all for safe standing,but the scary downside of standing was experienced that day.I was caught in some scary crowd surges in the Shed that day as well experiencing the boozed up males on the terraces and the hot pocket!We won comfortably and I had enough vouchers for my first ever FA Cup Final.
For Arsenal fans from the late 60s to late 70s ,Wembley was bad news.Leeds league cup.Leeds FA cup and worst of all Swindon in 69.I talked to older lads who had mates packed it all in after the Swindon !They could not handle any more pain!My brother had a mate who was at all
the losing Finals of that era ,but had missed Liverpool Double year 71!
We pleaded with him not to go when he hot a ticket for Ipswich! He was a Jonah!yes ,he went and we lost!We as in many big occasion in our history did not perform on the big day and our 70s heartache went on ,seven years without a trophy!
When was our trophy drought to end? We would not have to wait much longer…………..
If you would like to tell your Arsenal story, click here