It seemed like a badge of honour to some of the familiar faces. 'I was there when The Arsenal played as poorly as anyone in living memory can recall' t-shirts all round to the unlucky. The steward in our block deserves more as he "couldn't leave early like everyone!'
We were away by the sea. Yet we still crowded around a small screen to witness the mess. We returned in time to retake our seats for QPR. It had to be better. Two pathetic displays & a tetchy AGM meant we had to turn up and show, at least some heart. In fact, the very least that was needed was a win.
Before the game people spoke of taking a win of any calibre. A scrappy 1-0 would do yet having achieved just that there was dissatisfaction. We won. We got 3 points. We kept a clean sheet. Jack & Bac were back. We were better than them. We deserved all we got yet the Arsenalisation of our mood didn't reflect that.
The problem is we scraped past a very poor side with a much better side waiting for us. (Not Reading - like the club I'm not counting the COC.) Man U stand poised to batter us about the parts with a wet rolled up newspaper & we are all concerned it won't be pretty (especially if you now have that image in you head.)
We are feeling fragile. Poor performances from the team that used to make us gasp with joy, the constant selling of captains & an owner who couldn't find us on a map and hasn't spent one dead president on the team all add up to the problem. We see a team without a win & Shaun Wright Phillips and expect a landslide. We hoped it would inject much needed confidence into a flaccid team. We needed stiffening up before Old Trafford (and that's enough of the cock analogies!)
Before the game we visited Piebury Corner for a quick Ian Wright and roast potatoes & my son had a go at kicking balls through holes for a minute. Apparently Squillaci got 4. My son got 3. We entered the stadium through our lucky turnstile with "Worse than Squillaci" ringing in his ears and sat through a fairly dull first 45 minutes. We were better than the last 180 minutes - damning praise indeed.
The highlight was Jack. I wish we had 11 Jacks. I bet he's even good in goal. Utter class. Wonderful passing with a steely determination. I think we'd nearly forgotten what he brings to the side. Sagna too was a welcome sight. Jenkinson did nothing wrong but Bac is just a better option for now. We will see a lot more of Jenkinson in the future.
The second half was more of the same. We pressed them but worried they might break at any second. Just as the stands were getting restless, looking at the clock to see how long to go before the moanathon could start up poped the perfectly haired Artete to head then stab the ball home after a pinball of a scramble in the 6 yard box. The ground erupted in relief and rumours we'd all forgotten how to celebrate a goal were unfounded.
Two scares followed as QPR waltzed through our defence and they probably should've scored but holding your breath works and we hang on. And that's the problem. A team managed by a bastard who are awful made us hang on. It almost seem perverse to celebrate such a win but celebrate we must. A lot can happen in a week and we must be ready for the mancs & we will be. I said to someone after the game that the 8-2 won't happen again. He agreed, "Yep, can't see this side scoring 2!" Brilliant! Stop it!
Now you must forgive me this week as up to Friday night I'll be concentrating elsewhere. The mighty Cambridge City are playing MK Dons in the FA Cup 1st round and it's live on ESPN. This is the first time they have ever been shown live & the money they've made from this cup run is history changing for them. They need a new home & this could've just made that possible. It's going to be a great night and my son and I will be amongst the lucky 1730 crowd. So if you have ESPN stick it on at 7.30 this Friday and we will give you a wave. We will be standing to the left of the goal waving the obligatory homemade cardboard and silver foil cup (if we get it together) or a small inflatable one left over from all those trips to Cardiff when the cup meant something to The Arsenal. It's not like a trophy. It's an actual trophy. If you get depressed at how the big clubs treat this wonderful old pot take a look at the game on telly and peer into that old cup magic. For Cambridge City it's massive & I'll be relishing every second.
Up The Underdogs (on Friday night & Saturday lunchtime.)