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Thursday
Mar292012

Their Miserable Faces

BY ANDREW FOULIA / @UnfunnyNameHere

My first year as an Arsenal season ticket holder coincided with the 1988/89 season. As I was only 11 at the time and amazingly it only cost £16. Yes, sixteen pounds…for a whole season. It’s fair to say times have changed. My dad and American uncle Chuck also had tickets for the year and there’s were only £34 each!

At the time we had no idea George Graham’s side would be challenging for the title, let alone win it. As such there were some great moments along the way; experiencing my first live last gasp injury-time equaliser having been 2-0 down against Southampton certainly comes to mind. Of course there were lows as well. The home defeat to Derby County in the penultimate home game of the season had everyone thinking the title was gone, nobody even bothered to celebrate Alan Smith’s late consolation goal…although, little did we realise how important goal difference would prove to be.

Though we went to every home match in all competitions, we weren't travelling supporters so only went to one away game, the 3-2 win against that small club down the road in the third game of the season. By the time May 26th arrived we’d agreed as a family to watch the title decider together at home.

Unfortunately, some uninvited Spurs supporters turned up as well, including the bloke across the road (his son was my best mate at the time but couldn't face the prospect of seeing my face in the unlikely event that we did it) and three relatives on my mum's side. Needless to say, I wasn't happy about this as I knew that if we didn't achieve do it an Anfield, I wouldn't be able to handle their piss-taking! Luckily, one of those relatives brought along one of his Gooner mates, meaning we had even numbers. Four Gooners, and four Spuds cheering on Liverpool.

In the early portion of the game the Spurs relatives couldn’t help themselves from laughing at the fact we had no chance, although they were, in no uncertain terms, told by the  neighbour not to tempt fate. All the while, we Arsenal supporters just sat quietly concentrating on the match, far too nervous to respond to the banter. Even Dad was silent, despite being the most optimistic Gooner I know. 

When Mickey Thomas missed a chance with 15 minutes left, we understandably thought that was that, and there’d be no chance Liverpool would give us a second free run on goal. The Spurs relatives grew increasingly confident, resuming their laughter and ‘banter,’ while we sat with our heads in our hands. As the match entered injury time we were all just screaming at the TV, begging for one more chance...

There's no need to describe the goal as you've all seen it several million times, but as us Gooners were going completely and utterly berserk, I glanced at the faces of the Spurs fans. I've never seen such misery!

This, of course, made it even more enjoyable (if that was even possible). They were motionless, looking as though they had a front row seat to the apocalypse.

When we calmed down to watch the final, heart stopping moments, the neighbour piped up to my relatives, "I fucking told you not to tempt fate, didn’t I?

That night, the elation, their miserable faces, it will all live with me forever!

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