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Better Lucky Than Smart

BY STUART HILL / @arsenalstu 

My favourite Arsenal moment comes from 1988. At the time I was a hard-working(?) student at Cambridge University and, having supported the Gunners from aged 4 was really enjoying travelling down on the (then reasonably-priced) train to watch our renaissance under George Graham.

Like fellow Arsenal/Cambridge swot Nick Hornby 10 years previously, I was going out with a teacher-trainer from the local college (I recently discovered Hornby and I were also born in the same hospital in Redhill). If you bother to read on though, you will conclude that this is where our similarities end, especially with regard to story telling abilities...

Anyway, said girlfriend had just started her studies and was busy getting ready for her welcome dinner which is a big tradition in the university. I feigned the usual bored-boyfriend interest as she decided what to wear and how to do her hair etc. She left in a slight huff and I departed for a standard night down the college bar with a couple of mates.

I didn't think anything more about it until I got called to the staircase pay phone (no mobiles back then) the next morning, to hear the girlfriend's excited voice on the other end of the line. "You'll never guess who I sat next to at the dinner last night" she triumphantly announced. Again feigning interest I enquired as to the identity of said person, to which she replied, "Nicole Graham".

Slightly hung-over and non-plussed as to why this should be of interest to me I replied "Who?", in the manner of the Highbury faithful greeting the announcement of an opposition substitute.

Understandably peeved at my combined lack of enthusiasm and sharpness she fired back "I thought you Cambridge students were supposed to be smart - I'll give you a clue, her Dad's called George".

Turns out that her and Nicole had been discussing boyfriends, my missus had mentioned that I was an Arsenal obsessive and Nicole came out with her bombshell. To cap it all the girls got on great, so much so that a few weeks later I found myself sitting up in the Carrow Road Directors box next to Nicole watching us win 4-2. George came up after the game and chatted away, I froze and forgot the thousand things I would have liked to have asked, but I was in 19-year-old Gooner heaven anyway.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention, said girlfriend kindly agreed to marry me several years later and produced a beautiful daughter and two sons - the latter two now, aged 15 and 14, accompany me to our East Upper Seats, graciously suffering my rants at Bendtner, Denilson and lately the meerkat. Whoever said "better lucky than smart" knew what they were talking about.

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