Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Arsenal 3-0 Aston Villa: A Gooner's Trip

I know Arsenal beat Aston Villa last Saturday, but I've been too busy since then to even contemplate writing about the game. I was lucky enough to be there and I thought it might be better to relive my trip rather than report on the match itself.

Last Saturday morning I got up at 4.15 am to begin my journey to London and the Emirates stadium. After donning my Arsenal shirt I drove the 30 minutes to the long term car park at Dublin airport, and got on the shuttle bus to terminal two. I quickly printed my boarding pass for my Aer Lingus flight, and passed through the security check to the departure lounge.

As usual I was the first of a group of four to arrive at the airport, and I took the opportunity to grab a quick breakfast while I awaited the arrival of my fellow Gooners. It wasn't long before they arrived, and before I knew it we were already on our first drink of the day at about 5.30 am. Before too long our flight was called, and we boarded for the hour long flight to Heathrow.

The ease of travel from Heathrow to Arsenal is quite incredible, and we got straight on a tube which brought us to "Arsenal" station within an hour. Next up was second breakfast in true hobbit style before we made our way to the Armoury to pick up a few souvenirs of our trip. For my part I got a lovely new Arsenal top as well as a three pack of Arsenal socks and an Arsenal pendant.

With the club having banked my £55 I went outside to get a few photos of a tile which I had been asked to take for another fellow Gooner. It took myself and Darren a few minutes to find the tile with the persons name on it, but with our work done we felt happy to join the rest of the party in the pub. It was just 10.30 am, but we hoped that The Tollington would have the same opening time as Irish pubs.

Unfortunately we found out that the pub wouldn't open until 11, and we had to wait outside in the glorious sunshine for 30 minutes. We felt we were portraying an image of typical Irishmen, as we waited outside the pub for our first(actually our second) drink of the day. After what seemed like an eternity the doors swung open, and I went to the bar to get four pints of San Miguel.

Waiting for the pub to open.

The plan was to take things easy before the game, but the best of plans can easily go awry. As the pub slowly filled up I got to meet some good friends from previous visits, as well as some Gooners who were new to me. With everybody followed on Twitter, there was still plenty of time before the game started.

The Chelsea against Spurs game was being shown on the various TVs around the pub, but most fans were far too busy talking to pay it too much attention. I looked up occasionally when the cheering got louder, but the draw was the best result for Arsenal in my opinion. When that game ended it was time for us all to leave in a hurry, and make our way to the Emirates.

I have to admit I wasn't exactly sober at that stage, but a foot long hot dog at the stadium was a very welcome sight to me. I took my food to my seat and was delighted to see I was sitting directly behind the Clock End goal, and only three rows back too. The view was fantastic, and I looked forward to Arsenal winning their seventh Premier League game in a row.

I got a first hand view of Arsenal's first two goals, as Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott gave them a 2-0 half time lead. I was very impressed with Arsenal's play in the first half in particular, but I was also highly unimpressed with Aston Villa. Arsenal had their chances to add to their lead, but they didn't do so until the very last minute of the game through a fantastic free kick from Mikael Arteta.

My view from behind the goal.

I would love to know what Villa's game plan was, and I think they are lucky the season is close to being over. Even when Arsenal were 2-0 up Shay Given was wasting time in goal for Villa, and they seemed content not to lose by too much. At the moment they're eight points clear of the relegation zone with eight games left to play, and they must surely have too many points to go down.

When the game finished we made our way back to The Tollington again, and celebrated what was a very easy victory. The drinks flowed again, and after a few hours it was time to make our way back to our hotel. It was almost an hour long journey on the tube to reach our hotel, and one of the party couldn't make it all the way without stopping for a toilet break.

I got off the train with him at Earl's Court, but quickly zipped up my jacket to hide my Arsenal shirt as we were in Chelsea  country. It didn't take long to get back on the next train and make our way to Hounslow West where we felt the need to get some food yet again. Having purchased some very dodgy fried chicken from a certain Colonel it was time to get back to the hotel.

In the room we put Match of The Day on the TV, but I didn't see too much of it as it was almost over. Deep sleep soon fell upon me until I got a phone call just before five in the morning from my son telling me he had a problem with my car. It was a rude awakening and I found it hard to fall asleep again before it was time to get up at 6am.

In retrospect it might not have been a great idea to have booked a flight for just before 9 am on the day the clocks went forward. A very early breakfast was followed by a short taxi trip to the airport, and a short wait before we made our way back to Dublin again. I'm still not sure how one of our party managed to get through security at both airports on the return journey after he had lost his ID in London.

I was home by 11 am on Sunday morning, but I can rarely remember feeling so tired in my life. I would love to make another trip before the end of the season, but finances may not allow it.

A trip to the Emirates to see Arsenal play is an absolute must for any Arsenal fan if they can manage to make it. The hospitality and friendliness of the Arsenal fans is quite fantastic, and I was made to feel a part of the "Gooner Family." I've made three trips this season, and thankfully Arsenal managed to win all three games.

If I can't make it again this season I'm sure I'll be going as early as I can next season. I would love to make a trip to an away game as well, as the atmosphere among the traveling Arsenal fans is quite fantastic. I'm lucky enough to support the best club in the world, and to have plenty of fellow Gooners to share my support with.
The conversations I had with so many Arsenal fans ranged from reminiscing about former glories to the prospects for the future of the present team. There was an awful lot of slagging between the Arsenal fans, and my man-bag was a particular point of interest. I maintain that I needed it to carry everything around, and it will be with me on the next trip too.
That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.


  1. Great Post. Sounds like a fantastic day out!

  2. Nice work, sounds like you had a good time! Hopefully we'll end up at the same match one of these days!

  3. Nice to see your day is close to mine when we go up. Hope to meet at a game soon and keep up the good work.

  4. Eh mick at least you could hide ur arsenal top ie Earls court quickly made ourway back to the tube lol chelsea chavs 2busy eating there chicken