Your Arsenal part 2 and its one of the finest football writers on the internet. The incomparable, Andrew Allen, indomitable keeper of the archive that is the AFCcollective. If, on the off chance, you do know an obscure fact about the Arsenal, well Andrew probably told you...!
ClockEnd5 > Why Arsenal?
Andrew > I’m not sure there was much of a choice! My dad was a long-standing season-ticket holder before I was born and used to go to games with my uncle and grandfather on my mum’s side. I was kitted out in an Arsenal kit from the age of four and the indoctrination process continued throughout my childhood.
CE5 > So what’s you earliest Arsenal memory then?
Andrew > I’m told I was taken to my first game when I was four, although I haven’t been able to confirm which exact game in the 1987/88 season it was. I vividly remember watching the last-gasp win against Liverpool in 1989 at the house of a family friend and then playing football in the garden until the small hours.
CE5 > What was your first game?
Andrew > As I’ve mentioned it was sometime during 1987, although the specifics escape me – a fact that bugs me regularly! My North Bank induction didn’t begin in earnest until the 1990/91 season. I was rested on the crush barrier by my dad for the first home game of the season on a Wednesday night against Luton Town and never looked back.
CE5 > Your favourite Arsenal player?
Andrew > I’ve obviously been privileged to see a lot of great players during the Wenger era, but I think Anders Limpar really captured my imagination as a child. His signing was so out of keeping with the usual Graham transfers and he had such an immediate influence on the team that it was love at first sight. Although he was at the height of his powers in the title winning season of 1990/91, his partnership with Ian Wright the following year was arguably the best I ever saw at Highbury, while his chip from the halfway line against Liverpool is still my favourite ever goal.
CE5 > Your favourite player from the current team?
Andrew > It’s hard to look past Robin van Persie. He’s cut a very mature figure both on and off the pitch this year. He was unveiled to the Highbury crowd on the last day of the ‘invincibles’ season just in front of me wearing the most offensive trousers I’ve ever seen, and got himself into some bother ahead of the 2005/06 season but his development in the last 18 (injury-free) months has been fascinating. He always had the technique it was just a matter of him, as Arsene might say, being more ‘efficient.’ The goal against Everton to cap off the 125th anniversary celebrations was a particular high point. Fingers crossed he commits his future to the club.
CE5 > Your highest point as an Arsenal fan?
Andrew > There have been so many. Winning the League Cup in 1993 on my first trip to Wembley will always stay with me, as will the personal congratulations I received from friends and teachers the day after the Cup Winners’ Cup triumph in 1994. My four years at university in London between 2001-2005 couldn’t have been better timed. Looking back it feels like the whole period was bathed in sunshine, booze and silverware. I celebrated winning the title at Old Trafford in the streets surrounding Highbury before getting a couple of hours sleep and heading to an exam. Two titles, three FA Cups, and 49 games unbeaten! Not bad…
CE5 > and your lowest point?
Andrew > The Nayim goal in 1995 still feels like a cruel joke, while the Owen brace in the FA Cup defeat to Liverpool in 2001 and Wayne Bridge’s goal for Chelsea in the 2004 Champions League quarter-final were also like shots to the heart. Strangely though, the lowest point was the draw against Birmingham in March 2008. I knew the moment Clichy conceded the injury-time penalty that our chances of winning the league were gone, despite the fact we were still top of the league at the end of the game. I think the emotion of watching Eduardo suffer such an horrific injury got to me. At the age of 25 I needed an hour lying face down on the floor of my bedroom just to try and calm down. It didn’t really work. That Birmingham repeated the feat two years later with a jammy last second equaliser and then beat us in the Carling Cup final last season hasn’t helped heal the wound!
CE5 > If you could sign any 3 players?
Andrew > Can I pass on all three on the proviso that Van Persie commits himself to Arsenal for the rest of his career? No? Ok…Messi, Ronaldo and Rooney – just so they can’t score against us anymore.
CE5 > Ok, get rid of 3 players?
Andrew > I always have a tinge of sadness when any Arsenal player leaves the club. I suppose I invest so much hope in them loving the club like I do, or being the best players they can be, that I take their respective exits quite personally. That being said there’s a few guys who I now just feel sorry for. Chamakh and Squillaci look completely bereft of confidence, while the Park transfer looks increasingly odd. For their own good, I’d love them to get their careers back on track elsewhere.
CE5 > Finally, Andrew Highbury or the Emirates?
Andrew > The Emirates is definitely growing on me, but it still lacks the dignified gravitas of Highbury. You can’t turn your back on 93 years of history and not feel sad. What I’d give for a chance to rewind the clock and stand on the North Bank again…
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