It's Happened Again...
After completing the season without a trophy, the analysis from outside our great club has been far from positive, even after Sunday's hugely important victory. I have even heard some describe it as 'not that important'! You ask the travelling army of Gooners if our final away day of the season was irrelevant!
We all know how crucial it could be to get the opportunity to take on Europe's best next season - be it financially, how competitive we are in the transfer market or, from a fans' point of view, both the quality and diversity of football the competition throws up and of course the chance to go on a few more away jollies!
Just like 12 months previous however, there was that added ingredient that if you don't understand it, you simply don't get what being a football fan is all about.
Sitting enjoying some brekkie at the airport on Saturday morning the PMT among our travelling party was evidence alone that for fans of north London's two biggest clubs it was absolutely massive. We also knew, of course, that a win would mean our nearest and dearest could do absolutely nothing about it.
So, it was down to us, simple as that.
We had plenty of time to think about the whole situation as we took in the considerable entertainment a Saturday night in Newcastle has on offer. Come matchday the nerves were joined by a certain degree of 'delicacy' as a result.
Pre-match undertaken in our usual haunt and the many, many steps up to the away end negotiated and it was time. No more talking, no more opinion, no more verbal rivalry. Ninety minutes or so would decide both in the North East of England and London.
The first half seemed to come and go with very little happening. The interval didn't do anything to calm the nerves though!
Straight away in the second period I felt we stepped up a gear and started to look more likely to find that all-important goal. I know it is easy to say after the event but I always felt the result back in London would go against us so a win was imperative.
Then from a set-piece it happened. With the goalscorer matching last years, way up in the away end it was absolute and utter chaos. If anything however, it seemed to increase the tension.
Overall our composure and control throughout the remaining period was admirable, with our hosts never coming close. In a few seconds with time running out however, both news of a goal in London and Theo nudging the ball against the post had us holding our heads and wondering if it could all be taken away from us in injury time.
The time came and went without concern of course and huge celebrations followed the final whistle. Once again, despite being a long way behind, we had achieved our late season goal. And believe you me not only was it hugely satisfying I'm sure our singing at the end of the game was loud enough to be heard way back in north London.
Newcastle is a long way from home for me... but the journey felt short and strangely fuzzy... a bit like last year really!
The squad celebrated with gusto on Sunday. They looked totally together and I'm convinced they knew exactly how much it meant to us fans. Add a powerful end to the season and bags of promise and things are looking hugely positive as we go into the summer break. Time will tell what comings and goings we witness over the next couple of months or so. One things for sure, both the Club and us Gooners know the time has come to kick on and realise our potential.
There is nothing quite like football. There is even less like being a Gooner, boys and girls.
Victoria Concordia Crescit