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Thursday
Dec012011

A Trip Worth Making

BY DEREK WHITE / @cooley1972

March 1990. I was 18-years-old and still a student in the final year of secondary school when my friend and I, both Gooners, decided it was about time we finally took in a game at Highbury.

It wasn’t exactly a convenient journey from where we lived in Ireland and required taking a car to Dublin, a ferry to Holyhead and an overnight coach to London. Moreover, it also meant missing my French exam, which was due to take place on the Friday, unless I persuaded my teacher to let me take it early. This, as it turns out, would not be the last time that The Arsenal would come before an exam.

Amazingly, after much begging and pleading, my French tutor finally relented and allowed me to take the exam a day early. Safe in the knowledge that I had probably failed the paper, we jumped in the car to Dublin on the first part of our epic journey.

The match was against Everton on the Saturday at 3pm, but we got to the ground around 11am just to soak up the sights, sounds and smells in the surrounding streets. As soon as the gates opened we raced to the North Bank terrace. We were in total awe. The pitch, oh my, the pitch! After ten years following Arsenal on television, in Shoot and Match, on the radio, on Sportsnight and on Teletext, we were finally going to see our side in the flesh.

John Lukic was in goal and received a supportive reception, despite speculation circling that George Graham was trying to sign David Seaman from QPR. After that the match is a bit of a blur, although I remember Alan Smith scored the winner. The game ended 1-0 to the Arsenal, a fitting result for the best day of my life.

My friend and I were staying in London for the week and we visited Highbury every day. We bumped into ‘super’ Kevin Campbell on the steps to the Marble Halls and even met Kwame Ampadu at Arsenal tube station.

I have been to many memorable games at Highbury since (none yet at the Emirates), but my first was the experience of a lifetime. 

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