Category Archives: Tim in London

Photojournal of Wembley

This is a bit of a drunken post so.. well.. take it or leave it.

First, I need to thank everyone who helped make this very special trip possible. Melissa, thank you for being there for me. Margarette, thank you for everything you have done. Dee, you are the man and I’m sorry that we didn’t win. Jay, Les, and Michael, thank you for the company. And for everyone else I met this weekend thank you for the moments.

Second, I can’t really talk about the match because I think… that in a sense I’m like a kid when it comes to matches. I know, I’m 40, but I’ve never done anything like this for any sports team I’ve ever followed. It’s one thing to drive 20 miles and see a game with some friends twice every year and it’s an entirely different thing to fly 5,000 miles and see your team well beaten in a cup match that you have been waiting for years to see. After today I’m convinced that cup finals should have an age requirement, or at least a match attendance requirement; you should have to see your team lose a meaningless game at least twice before you are allowed to see a cup final.

That walk back to the train was like a funeral dirge. I’ve been to matches that my other sports teams lost and it was never like that. I fuck near cried when people started singing “Perry Groves World” in sotto voce. It was as if they were pining for the days of old while there’s so much to look forward to with this club.

Third, I won’t write tomorrow. Sorry. Can’t do it. I have a flight to catch and maybe I’ll do something else instead. I’m really happy for you if the idea of this fills you with glee, like today’s commentator — the Stoke fan, “shawx”, who has decided to use his entire intellect to rub in the fact that a team he probably couldn’t give two fucks about beat Arsenal. Enjoy the shadenfreude.

Fourth, I’m going to bed. Next time I write it will probably be Tuesday. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Getting off the train

Hardcore fans sing the Nasri Song

Your reporter at the match

Pre-game piss up

Szczesny warming up

Birmingham actually tackled the shit out of each other before the match

Photogs

One of the strangest opening celebrations I have ever seen

I couldn't figure out what the balls were for until they did this weird shit.

The crowd is nervous

MOAR BALLS!!!

They passed a flag around

Ugh... the highlight of the night?

Since RvP scored in front of the Brummies and they scored in front of us, I'm going with... yes.

Last chance before the sub

Leaving Loss Vegas

 

League Cup Final: lead the way

I’ve struggled to explain to my American friends what today’s game means to me and to Arsenal as a club. And if I’m struggling to explain this game to them, you can probably understand why some people are already writing the game off as less meaningful than, say, Arsenal’s return trip to Barcelona and chance at Champions League glory.

That’s the thing about Americans, we tend to be singular about our sports trophies. There’s The Superbowl for NFL teams and that’s it. There’s no parade when your team wins their division to become “Division Champions” but here in England there are four different cups that a top level Premier League team like Arsenal can go for: the Champions League, the Premier League title, the FA Cup, and today’s game, the League Cup.

Perhaps the closest comparison you can make to this English cup madness in American sport is the College Football Bowl Championship Series. There you have the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the Discover Orange Bowl, the Hyundai Sun Bowl, and the granddaddy of them allâ„¢ the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Visio. In the BCS system any one team could win any one of those trophies. But as you can see, even that comparison falls apart quickly because no one College Football team can claim all four trophies in a single season.

Even as one of four trophies in England, and widely considered the least of those four, you only need to ask the players what today’s game means. Four years ago, Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas led his team out in the Millennium Stadium to play Chelsea in this same final. He was a precocious 19 year old that day who dominated the midfield giants of Chelsea. Arsenal went ahead 1-0 off Theo Walcott’s strike and yet went on to lose to two brilliant strikes from Didier Drogba. You can believe that Theo and Cesc were devastated when news came to them that they would miss the chance to lead Arsenal to redemption today.

In Cesc’s place is another precocious 19 year old midfielder in Jack Wilshere. A player who is so lauded by his peers that England captain Frank Lampard has said that Jack should be starting for his national team. You better believe that this will be the biggest game of his life so far.

But for the fans there’s something palpable going on. When I got my ticket from Dee yesterday, we had a quick pint and he tried to describe what he was feeling and all either of us could really do is get excited. Jay and Les the night before stumbled when it came to putting the meaning of this game into words. But there’s something there. It’s the most excited I’ve seen Gooners in years. Dare I say, even more excited than the 2007 League Cup final.

And maybe that’s just it. Maybe the meaning behind today’s game is sort of indescribable. Some will blow it off as not that important, will write off the idea that winning this is a stepping stone to bigger and better things but make no mistake that’s exactly what’s at stake today. In the competitive world you start out beating what’s in front of you before you can go on to bigger things. Maybe you start out by winning something like the FA Youth Cup then you move on to the Carling Cup and before you know it, you’re holding old big ears high above you.

And perhaps that is what is so exciting about today; it’s both a trophy in the now and possibly the harbinger of future glory. After all, Jack Wilshere knows what it’s like to win, having led Arsenal to the FA Youth Cup just two years ago.

A photo journey to the Golden Ticket

Waiting outside the tube station for my friend with the ticket…

Ticket secured I went to the Grove.

Needed to get something from the Armory, lovely chat with the nice lady who works there. Former IT person, early retirement, works at Arsenal for the love of it.

Evidently, having a walk or jog around the Emirates is quite the thing to do.

Already there, needed a trip to the old ground.

Not what it once was. Kind of a shame.

Love the Chapman crest but then I like Art Deco.

Back to the tube…

The bars are for the Stoke City fans.

The long trip back to the hotel done, here’s the prize. See you all tomorrow!