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Missing Dad 

BY MATT GOLDING / @Matt_Golding

Like a lot of fans I know, my love for Arsenal has been inherited from my Dad and the passion that we share has meant we frequently watch games together.

That includes the trip to Milan back in February which, whilst having a fantastic build up, was devastating for the both of us. Having been optimistic ahead of the game the trauma of such a heavy defeat and the sense of betrayal which accompanied the performance was so strong that my father refused to watch the home leg, despite tickets being available. Although I too was obviously disappointed, I had a feeling we could turn it around.

I’d missed the 5-2 win over Spurs in the days before and having also missed the win over Barcelona the season before there was no way I was going to miss another potentially unforgettable date at the Emirates.  

Ticket in hand, I made the same trip I’d made hundreds of times before; just this time I was alone. Walking along Gillespie Road on the way to the ground, I missed talking to my Dad about the team, making our predictions etc. Once I had taken my place in the Clock End lower and the atmosphere had started to build, the loneliness eventually drifted to the back of my mind.

I found myself sitting next to two Italians who were obviously supporting Milan and they looked a bit uncomfortable when Koscielny scored early on. The crowd celebrated cautiously, although when Rosicky netted a second we all got far more excitable. By the time Van Persie scored from the penalty spot before half-time I was in a full-on embrace with the visitors next to me…although it obviously didn’t last long.  

I sat down at half time, exhausted, and checked my phone. I’d been expecting texts from friends who I had spent the whole week telling we would win 5-0, but instead there was just one text, from my Dad, saying "Hope you're enjoying it".

Knowing he wasn’t next to me as we attempted to make history took the edge off the excitement and I watched with a slight feeling of regret despite the atmosphere being arguably the best I’ve ever experienced at the Emirates.

Robin missed his chance to level the tie with 20 minutes or so to go and we all knew at that point the game was up, as the team visibly wilted after their first half exertions. While I left the stadium with a real feeling of pride in the team, there was also the disappointment that we’d not qualified and a strange sense of relief – as for me football will always be something I go to with my Dad.

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