Wednesday, July 18, 2012
With Barnet having been such an annual affair in recent times a mini-tournament down on the south coast was certainly a different way to start our pre-season.
It definitely felt a million miles from all the passion and emotion of our last-day visit to West Bromwich and brought about a little reality to all us 'believers' when the summer, as enjoyable as it is, holds nothing to feed our addiction to everything Arsenal!
On a personal note my journey through the off-season started with another visit to our home! I can't say I am a massive fan of Coldplay but their Friday night show was nothing short of spectacular and I'm chuffed I decided to attend.
From then on it pretty much took a route from the Jubilee celebrations to the Bislett Games in Oslo, international cricket at both The Rose Bowl and The Oval and to the awesome Isle of Wight Festival (despite the mud!)
A period often referred to as the 'silly' season, it also includes all the usual guesswork, spin, speculation and sometimes facts surrounding football's comings and goings. The incredible access we all have to social media these days naturally intensifies this.
It has never been a part of football I particularly enjoy, especially as being Arsenal we are very much at the forefront every single day. If I could disappear from that planet for the whole summer and return when the team next runs out I would be delighted!
That first outing came on Saturday of course as we took on Southampton and Anderlecht for the Markus Liebherr Memorial Cup, our squad being made up of players not involved in any summer internationals.
The day also coincided with a good friend and lifetime Gooner reaching the milestone that is his 50th birthday. Consequently it proved a long and extremely entertaining affair but specific memories of the tournament itself are a little less detailed than hoped!
A win and a draw saw us take the trophy of course and every squad member benefited from that all-important pitch time as we start to build up to our season's opener against Sunderland.
I'll touch more on the intricacies of our fixture list before everything gets going in earnest.
Before then however, I'm off to the bank to collect my ringgits, yuan and Hong Kong dollars for this year's Far Eastern extravaganza.
Once again I hope to get the chance to meet many of the thousands of passionate Gooners in that part of the world and I will be providing updates of my personal experiences throughout.
Feel free to e-mail me with your thoughts as always or follow me on Twitter @stubbsy70
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