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Wednesday
Oct262011

Afternoon Delight

BY SAM BROWN / @Gooner_Sam92

There I was, just another nine-year-old Gooner kicking a ball around in an East London playground, unsuccessfully trying to recreate the magic that Dennis Bergkamp had conjured up at St James’ Park days earlier. Little did I know I would be making my first visit to Highbury later on that day. 

I returned home from school that afternoon knowing that Arsenal were playing Derby County, and that three points would take us to the top of the Premier League. I anticipated that I would be nagged by my mother to do my homework, to eat my greens and, if lucky, as a treat, be allowed to listen to the game on the radio. I was totally unaware of the events that were about to unfold.

My Dad trudged through the door at 4 o' clock, surprisingly early by his standards, and proceeded to thrust a brown paper bag in my direction. “Here you are, Son,” he said, as I opened the bag expecting a couple of fizzy cola bottles and a flying saucer. To my shock and absolute delight I pulled out three Arsenal tickets. “You, me and your Grandad are off to see The Arsenal tonight...”

I was on cloud nine, a new kind of elation I hadn't experienced in my lifetime. Jumping in the car for the short trip to North London to see my heroes, I remember chanting with my young, high-pitched voice “Ooh to, ooh to be, ooh to be a Gooner.” For the first time I’d be seeing my idols; David Seaman in goal, Thierry Henry up front and Bobby Pires on the wing.

We won 1-0 that night and I became part of a new family. I was a Gooner, the whole North Bank was made up of Gooners and we all wanted the same thing -  a victory for The Arsenal. We went top of the League that night and went on to win the Double later that year.

I'll never forget the buzz Highbury gave me on that first visit, the stroll down Avenell Road, the history flowing through the stadium, the flood lights beaming on to that beautiful green carpet. I've not stayed away, and I never will.

I now work as a Steward at our new home and look forward to every single game. There is no greater honour than working for the club that I love.

Oh, Arsenal we love you!

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