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A Day Out With Dad

BY DAN GODDARD / @derge82

Like a lot of people I inherited my love of The Arsenal from my Dad. He used to go to Highbury regularly up until my brother was born in the mid-seventies. His stories of cup finals, staying in the pub for three days after beating Spurs to win the league in 1971, some of the crap players he'd seen, and how a result dictated his mood made me feel like he was part of something special, and I wanted in.

My parents separated at the start of the nineties and football became a way that me and my old man became close. It's now a strong bond we have, and one of the first things we talk about when we see each other. When I was 19 my brother and I decided to take Dad to Highbury for his birthday. He'd not been in years and I'd never been.

It was the third round of the Worthington Cup so we were able to get tickets easily, and we headed down early that afternoon. We walked around like kids who were somewhere new and exciting before it became obvious that memories were flooding back to my Dad - the Gunners pub, walking down Avenell Road, the burger vans and the doors to the Marble Halls…they all made him well-up with tears and smile like I've never seen him smile before.

We saw the team get off the coach and each as excited as the other. We couldn't believe we’d seen the likes of Gio van Bronckhorst, Arsene Wenger, and Robert Pires in the flesh! Arsenal lost, and on the way to the tube station I reverted back to being a kid, sulking that we'd lost and that Dad hadn’t had the chance to see us win on the rare day we all went to The Arsenal. I wanted him to tell me it was okay, and he did. It was only a League Cup game after all. It didn't really matter, what was special was that we’d spent the day together, seen the pitch together…that we’d been there. At Highbury.

Since then my brother and I have taken Dad to a couple of matches at the Emirates Cup. I myself went to Highbury a few more times and have made a further half dozen trips to the new stadium. If we had the money we'd go all the time, but it's alright. I'm happy that we got to go, that I got to take my Dad to the place where it started for him, and he passed it on to me. As much as I like the Emirates it's Highbury that's home. Even for a family from Suffolk who have hardly been.

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