My Favourite Match

Best of the Blogs - A Cultured Left Foot

Not a Championship decider, cup final, champagne football or even stuffing the Spuds Gordon Ramsey style. No siree.

My favourite Arsenal game occurred on the 15th of October 1983. A one-nil home defeat to Coventry City in front of 20,290 hardy souls.

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This first appeared on A Cultured Left Foot

A Cultured Left Foot

It was a game I attended with my late father. Poppa refused to join me on my favoured North Bank and duly bought a couple of tickets in 'the seats'. West Stand, lower. He also borrowed Big Dave's Ford Escort for the trip that day, to ensure the whole event was as poshed up as possible.

Now, although Arsenal could fill Highbury for the big games in those days, we struggled to even half fill it for the likes of perennial Midlands dullards like Coventry – so myself and Poppa sat in lone isolation until the very second our gladiators arrived on the pitch. It was at that moment that my mood darkened like the clouds overhead. Despite the banks of empty seats around us a pair of rather large gentleman appeared and sat in the two seats directly in front of us. At first I thought the fella in front of me was in the Coldstream Guards, but then I realised he actually had the biggest permed mullet I'd ever seen. A kind of cross between Kevin Keegan and Ian Botham, for sports fans of that era.

In actual fact 'Botham' did me a favour, particularly in the first half when we attacked the Clock End. Now, Arsenal's side at this time was capable of occasional brilliance but was generally extremely mediocre despite the midfield promptings of that all time great, Stewart Robson. We also had those famous admirers of the fairer sex Charlie Nick, Graham Rix and Lee Chapman playing that day. Yet Arsenal struggled to create anything much and Coventry`s centre back, a certain Sam Allardyce, quite literally swallowed everything we threw at them.

The first half drizzle turned heavier during the second period and sure enough we conceded a goal banged in by the legendary Paolo Rossi at the far post. Or it could have been journeyman forward Dave Bamber. One or the other.

As pressure built on the visitors defence & Charlie tried in vain to keep his hair fashionable it became obvious that we were never, ever, EVER going to equalise. I suppose this tale would have benefitted from that scenario but alas it just wasn`t to be. Even 'Botham' and his portly mate ran out of steam towards full time, but you can only abuse so many people in a couple of hours, I suppose.

The merciful end arrived to a (small) chorus of boos and we made our way out of the ground and back to Big Dave's dream machine. By this time the rain was absolutely torrential but obviously a football fan with an umbrella in those days would either be classed as 'girly' or wanting to use it as a weapon of choice. So we got VERY wet. The kind of wet when you realise you can't get any wetter.

The final chapter was inevitable as the dream machine failed to start. So myself and Poppa spent half an hour pushing the thing up and down the roads of Finsbury Park, jumping in and out of the by now steamed up and soaking car, screaming and shouting at each other and on the verge of man tears. Eventually an angel came down from heaven and gave us a 'jump start'. We were homeward bound.

So what does this tale tell me and why is it still my all time favourite Arsenal match? The reason is simple really. After that, things could only get better.

And they did.

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