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A Warm May Evening

BY CHRIS HOWARD / @ChrisHoward1982

For many young Gunners it takes an intervention from an older family member to explain that Alan Smith was actually an Arsenal player before he leant his voice to Sky Sports. For me though, he will always be at the heart of my first joyous experience as a supporter at Highbury.

It was a warm May evening in 1991 and Arsenal were readying themselves for what was effectively a championship coronation against Manchester United. As a young, naive 9-year-old going to my first game with my Dad’s mate Roy, I’d yet to grasp the fact that Liverpool’s defeat against Nottingham Forest hours earlier had rendered the result meaningless.

"But what if they lose?" I asked. "Don’t worry, it won’t happen," was Roy’s understanding response. He was right too; George Graham’s side ran out 3-1 winners and not only were we confirmed champions, but thanks to a hattrick from Alan ‘Smudger’ Smith we also had the golden boot winner as well. 

From that day forward I’ve been hooked. At such a young age it could be suggested that I was just craving a taste of success, but I don’t think it was that. It’s hard to explain the shared sense of belonging you have when you’re a football fan, but it’s a feeling I still experience every time I flash my season-ticket at the turnstile. 

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