A Gooner Matata pt II

Train, beers and tribalism – the coming of age on the terraces.

Following his boyhood memories of becoming a Gooner and the first taste of success (at least in his lifetime), the honeymoon period was over, and beer came into the picture. Part two (you can read part one here) encounters the tribulations that come with heightened expectations, and charts Arsenal’s evolution through a golden era.

Teens on the terrace

It’s true what they say, that title retention’s
a sign of real power, a vital dimension
of going one better, cementing your powers,
Well in 99, it was meant to be ours

The turbulent matches stick in your mind,
We’ve all seen the clip a gazillion times,
Loose ball played, it’s tight as a bedsit
and Giggs picks it up (he’s lightning), and pegs it,
He hurtles along til the box is reached,
Ravaging through like a fox through geese,
and hammers it high, the chest mane released,
An FA Cup-tainting, express train beast

And then in the league, Spurs couldn’t weather
an unlikely lead against Fergie’s endeavour,
Cole lobbed the keeper, as light as a feather
with Spurs yellow-bellied and spineless as ever,
So service resumed, a grin on Sir Alex,
They’d lift the three trophies and drink from the chalice,
Lost a whole final then flipped a reverse,
With Kuffour thumping his fist on the turf

This moment defined them but rather than whining,
Arsene let loose with an artisan signing,
The charlatan? Pied him, goodbye to a traitor
and welcome Thierry, the master creator,
Cheers to ‘Le Sulk’, but what he got we gave him,
So see you in hell, or the Reebok Stadium

It took a few years, but good times were had,
Big man Nwankwo stood by the flag
and twined up De Goey, twisting his sandals
and curling one in from ridiculous angles,
If you didn’t have Sky, the remote never failed,
Watching on Teletext biting my nails
in Pieman’s front room, I remember his flair,
Our Nigerian Lord, the defender’s despair,
And Titi was growing, more than severe,
Burning the touchline while sporting a sneer
and chasing through balls with the boldest composure
from the Iceman himself, the coldest composer

And then at St James’, we witnessed a murder,
A Greek tragedy with a twisted observer,
Dennis went one way, the leather the other
and poor ol’ Dabizas never recovered,

Now it’s the noughties, t’was clear the potential,
Replacing old faces was really essential,
So in came Campbell and Kolo the Wild,
Two footing Wenger’s a no-no in trials,
But no-one told Toure, hench and imposing,
The touch of a leper, the strength of a Trojan

Arsene enjoyed it, his foolish passion,
Snapped the boy up in the shrewdest fashion
and unleashed Big Sol, Martin was meaner
but Campbell had class and his marking was cleaner,
Had to snake Spurs, the timing was perfect,
One double later it might have been worth it,
Back in the bigtime, no time to be second,
Cos with Junior Gunnership, Highbury beckoned

Age 16, we bowled through the ‘stiles
without any old ‘uns cramping our style,
A fearsome firm, an outfit of loonies,
Thought we were Gooners but looked like the Goonies,
The tickets for kids were miles cheaper
until 17, then it’s wildly steeper,
Challenge accepted, creative deceit,
Phoney identities made it complete,
Couldn’t afford the full price, it was clear,
So we’d alter our surname and minus a year
and hope for the best, and somehow we scammed ‘em,
A year more of wonderful discounted fandom

And what a year that was, us Gooners were ready,
Pieman, the Twins and Congiu and Freddie,
We’d meet for a fry up and smuggle some cans
then jump on the train, a troublesome clan
discussing the match, or our antics last night,
Foul-mouthed and coarse, our semantics were shite,
Hop off at Highbury, delightfully prowl
to devour a burger that’s frightfully foul,
The timing it’s now, saluting the Arsenal
and picking up fanzines en route from a rascal

We’d look at their fans, give the boys our condolence,
We spent that whole season destroying opponents
and never quite losing, they couldn’t defeat us,
Thierry was taking these lads to the cleaners
and though we drew loads it’s never been matched,
Through Mourinho, Ferguson, Pep, it’s intact
and that’s special for me, in 05 I moved North,
Highbury closed shortly after and fourth
became a new benchmark, we had to accept it,
A gradual decline from a Northern perspective,
Now the odd FA cup keeps the cabinet refreshed,
and the Thunderbird now at the helm, I’m impressed,
But I pinch myself sometimes, perplexed at the mystery
how the year that I went was the best in our history

By Sean Stapleton – Check out Sean’s blog here

Posted by Sean Stapleton

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