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Sunday
Oct232011

A wedding present to remember

BY DAVID ALEXANDER / @CALACUS & @ARSENALADDICT

There is nothing worse than missing an Arsenal game.

And yet Arsenal v Burnley during the Clarets’ solitary Premier League season will linger long in the memory even though I wasn’t there.

Having got engaged six months earlier, our dream venue was available on 6th March and, given that I’d already pushed my luck by having a Saturday wedding (despite the risk of my fiancée’s actress friends possibly missing out due to stage commitments) there was no way I could or would have made a fuss just because Arsenal were playing.

Despite her father’s interest in football, my fiancée Amanda made it clear from the outset that she had no interest or excitement in football. I took her to a couple of games but the game never caught her imagination.

Burnley was not the biggest game in the world to be missing anyway, and when it turned out the maid of honour would miss the wedding because of an opening night some 200 miles away, I was already in a bit of trouble and feeling pretty awful that Amanda’s best friend would miss her big day.

The wedding went perfectly. Arsenal won, as I discovered during the drinks reception after the ceremony, and it was a beautiful day that matched our expectations and dreams.

Then came the moment I’d been dreading – the speeches.

I’d spent months working on mine and it was the only aspect of our big day that I was worried about. I finished tinkering with it only minutes before lining up for the ceremony.

Somehow I got through it and then Amanda stood up to speak herself.

She thanked those present and absent and, in an emotional state, shed a few tears about the day.

I thought she had finished when she acknowledged my passion and other true love: “Most of you here will know what I think about football...but for those of you who don’t know, David is a massive Arsenal fan. I wanted to show him how much I care and so I’ve got a message from an Arsenal player this evening. But not any Arsenal player – a Double-winning Captain...”

My mind raced, the Arsenal anorak in me quickly recalling that this meant one of three people: Tony Adams, Patrick Vieira and Frank McLintock. Whoever it was, I was honoured that Amanda had arranged some words from an Arsenal legend.

And while I was coming to terms with the fact that for the first time since we had known each other, she was actually showing some interest in football, she added: “But rather than read it out, I thought it would be a nice idea for them to say it themselves, so will you all please welcome, Mr Frank McLintock!”

To say I was stunned is an understatement. Guests said afterwards that I sat there looking blankly – but the truth was that it was complete shock. Shock that Amanda had gone to such lengths and shock that such an Arsenal hero was giving a speech about me at my wedding.

A true gentleman, Frank was courtesy personified, presented us with a letter and a signed photo from Arsene Wenger wishing us well for the future and spent time having his picture taken with guests.

Due to a taxi mix-up and ladies of a certain age swooning all over him, he even stayed and had a dance. An Arsenal Double-winning captain dancing at my wedding! Unbelievable.

Was it the best moment of my wedding? Of course I have to say that the “I do” bit was most meaningful.

But even though she has rarely shown any more interest in football since, that one, incredible moment when Amanda announced Frank McLintock into our wedding reception, will go down as one of the greatest, unbeatable moments of an already spectacular day.

(Picture courtesy of Arsenal)

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