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Oct212011

The French Connection 

 

BY JAMIE DALTON / @JAMIEDALTON82

Valentine's Day 1989 – the date of my first game at Highbury and looking back on it, it really was a case of "love at first sight.”

I was just six-years-old as I made my way up the stairs to the old Family Enclosure for what was an unusual mid-season friendly match between Arsenal and France.

Managed by the legendary Michel Platini, Les Bleus also included established stars such as goalkeeper Joel Bats and Manuel Amoros and had a young Eric Cantona on the bench. However, despite the quality continental opponents, the Gunners won 2-0. 

As well as the result, three other things stuck in my mind:

1)  A terrible cliché when you go to your first game - but the pitch was "that big" and "that green" - I had never seen anything like it and even to this day when I step out at The Emirates, the gasp of seeing the green baize still amazes me. 

2)  The stench of the river of urine running out the toilets. I can still smell it to this day.

3)  Alan Smith cracking the bar from 30 yards out with a half-volley. But instead of looking fussed, he just shrugged his shoulders and jogged away without any theatrics. These days it’s all on-camera volleys of abuse!

After that I was hooked - and nearly 23 years later, and several thousands of pounds lighter, I don't regret a moment. 

Reader Comments (1)

No way, Jamie that was my first game too!... I was eight years old and my dad took me to that game as it was too dangerous to take a small child to a league game back then. It was a great evening. I've still got the Platini programme somewhere too

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPete
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