It was a season that started with our Captain finally getting back together with his first love. Nasri did the same for money. The summer was a shambles with us picking up what was left. There were some nuggets but a bit of crap too as there would be with any supermarket sweep. We let a team put 8 past us for the first time in over a century. We called on our old leading goalscorer to help out as the new strikers didn't strike. We lost Jack for the whole season. Others fell to the injury curse as time went on. We ran out of full backs for a month. We lost the ability to close a game down. We've forgotten how to defend.
Despite all this it wasn't all doom. We had John Terry falling over as we stuck 5 past them at their little ground. We tucked in another 5 against s*urs as they were 2-0 up and 10 points clear. We turned over Liverpool away (not as impressive as it once was!) We beat AC Milan 3-0 (ignore the first game!) That winning run was fun too.
Sunday was one of those days where you wake up and The Arsenal are your first thought. 3pm seemed a long way a way. A trip to Build-a-bear, for my daughter's late birthday treat, in Covent garden killed a bit of time. As the day wore on the nerves grew. We all knew it but were uncomfortable saying it. Arsenal could blow this easily.
A variety of devices were set up by ten to three. Soccer Saturday on the telly. The commentary on the Arsenal app. Twitter on the phone. This is a nightmare! 3.02pm bloody AdeBuyWhore scores. Nothing for it now lads. We need a win. Yossssssssiiiiiii!!! 3.04pm and we are ahead thanks to a very odd but welcome bit of keeping by Fulop.
Two stunningly poor bits of defending for a change. The defending this season makes me weep but that's not news. We now need 2 goals without conceding again or 16 year olds will see something that hasn't happened in their lifetime. Just before half time the larger left back thumped in a shot that Fulop could only let sting his fingers before it rested in the net. 2-2! This has a Norwich feeling to it.
There was a time when an audio commentary was the norm. We knew how to deal with it and recognised the inclinations of the voice. I remember a moment when the radio exclaimed "Niallllllll Quinnnnnnnnnnn has....." We were off our seats punching the air. "..........hit the bar!" These moments were normal but few and far between. Yesterday we held our breath for an unhealthy amount as we attacked then they attacked. The whole season, summer and next season could change in a second. Such living room drama can't be good for you.
Finally that moment came. The corner was swung in with all expecting it to be cleared by the first defender. It beat that man but headed for the keepers hands. "Fulop jumps... OH HE'S DROPPED IT.....KOSCHELNY!!!!! It's 3-2! Would you believe it? 3-2! I like 3-2. It's a satisfying score. It's the score of my first game, the 1979 cup final. I consider that day the day I became addicted. As we went 3-2 up at west brom I'd been a Gooner for 33 years and a day and wouldn't have it any other way.
Gooners worldwide screamed DEFEND as images of the Norwich mess flash through us. We were ahead and third. That's top in our own private league and more importantly above 'them.' That 16 year old who's on the till in the supermarket at weekends? Never seen 'them' finish above us. That's how it is and how it must stay. The last 20 minutes was a blur drenched in commentators raising their voices while we swore more and more. The longest few minutes of our season saw Arsene hide in Pat's jacket before it was over. The 9 month roller coaster trundled to a stop. We'd survived. We feel sick. We need a drink and a lie down but you know we'll do it all again.
So it's done. We are a couple of points, a couple of goals but crucially 1 league position better off than last season. After the summer and the start that is a miracle and despite the disappointment of never troubling any silverware we should be delighted. I, indeed, am delighted and 3rd does feel a bit like a trophy (sorry) as long as we build on this. Poldolski is a huge start but he cannot be alone. RVP's decision will be massive too but we must not forget that we are 19 points behind the team above us. Not so much mind the gap as mind the canyon. That's the next challenge.
It's the end of term so we will have some leavers. The most important of these is Pat Rice. A true legend who is Arsenal all the way through and back again. He was the captain of my first Arsenal team. He was the first person I saw in an Arsenal shirt lift a trophy. I remember going to Cambridge City to see them play Arsenal in a pre-season friendly in the early 80s. Pat was there. Sammy Nelson too. They wore the yellow from the cup final and all smelt of the Vaseline rubbed liberally into their legs. I shook Pat Rice by the hand that night and I'll never forget it.
It's been a pleasure sharing this seasons joy and pain with you but now the exhausted need a rest. Here's to a summer off with only the fixtures to look forward to, the new kit to moan about and transfer fetting to keep us going. We wouldn't have it any other way.
Up The Rip Roaring Goal Scoring Glorious Gunners.