Big day today. The wife, having frustrated and bored in their last two games, travelled to the knuckle draggers needing a win. A draw would be ok considering the opposition but would leave no room for error later on. The mistress needed a win even more urgently if they were to make the play offs.
As I stood in the drizzle with 504 other people willing a goal for Cambridge City I did briefly wonder what I was doing. My son had headphones glued to his ears giving Arsenal updates every 2 minutes. I concentrated on the part timers in from of me. City was where I went with my dad. He wasn't Arsenal and this was our team to share. I go now with my son and he's there. We walk past, but never stop, where he stood. It wouldn't be right standing there without him.
It couldn't be more different to the padded experience of The Grove. An adult and an over 12 at the turnstile hand over £13. A programme and a line of raffle tickets is another £3. Change from a twenty. Stand where you like. We go behind the goal we attack and stroll to the other end at 3.45.
Both of mine needed wins yet both settled for draws. The Arsenal's will only be ok once we know the next two. We are crawling to 3rd which will be fine if we make it. In a season where you lose 10 games then 3rd is a miracle and says a lot about the sides below us.
City needed a win. 5 teams going for 4 spaces. A 1-1 drew a groan from the crowd. We assumed the other teams hadn't messed up so joined the queue to get out of the car park. Half way up the motorway the Stourbridge score appeared on the phone. They hadn't won so City's poor draw saw them home. I smiled as the spray from a lorry battered the car. I thought of the Swindon player I'd had a little 'discussion' with after a high tackle on one of ours. A major difference from the Emirates. The players answer back if you call them dirty bastards! His team were relegated. Mine was in the play offs. I won!
The radio reported Arsenal's missed opportunities on the field and off it. 3rd, once we'd hauled ourselves there, became ours to lose. We are doing our best.
This morning I was explaining to a friend, in an Islington coffee shop, my day. The stress of worrying about two must win games. A last butted in. "I really don't understand the obsession" she exclaimed. I explained the spectrum. When you are young it means everything. As you get older it means as much but you subconsciously know its daft. Your happiness is intrinsically linked to people you don't know, occasionally millionaires but sometimes postmen, hitting a ball past a man wearing large gloves into a big oblong. Daft. But quite brilliant. The lady thought for a second and said she understood alittle more, smiled and went back to her paper. I didn't believe her.
So it's Oxford City or Chesham United away in the play off semi final. 90 more minutes of hoofing the ball into the box and hoping for the best. None of your pretty triangles and lovingly crafted opportunities. Madness.
Up The Gunners (and for this week only on the blog, Up The City too!)
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