People get very worked up in the now these days. Especially when it comes to football. The stress of the present and the immediate future – are we going to win the next game, is this player, or that player going to sign, etc, etc – that it’s very easy to overlook the past.
But it’s the past that brings us so much more joy. The past is where memories are forged and can be recounted at any opportunity. A story with which we’ve experience joy and delight that we can hold in our minds eye and bring back when we want. And the beauty of football is that it creates collective memories. Through a specific act or event we all experience varying degrees of joy but we all have a slightly different viewpoint on the same story. Which means that as football fans we can all retell it in its own way.
So for me, as somebody who never experienced the joys of Anfield 89 having only really started following Arsenal in 1990, it is a real pleasure to have been part of the premiere of the new documentary which has been released, retelling the story of what is without question the single most dramatic ending to a football season that there will ever be.
Yesterday I touched on why the Sky eras attempt to put Cuty’s triumph up there on a similar pedestal was folly, so I won’t go over that again, but today I want to focus on that notion that it is the different way in which the same story can be told in so many different ways and each time it can be magical.
Nick Hornby’s retelling of it in his book and subsequent film. I’ve watched it a few times and he’s perfectly encapsulates what it feels like to be a football – specifically and Arsenal – fan. I have watched that DVD a few times and I suspect I’ll be watching it again.
Friends I meet in the pub who experienced the day as it unfolded. I was fortunate enough to spend the end of the evening with one such chap who even had old photographs to show of the day. In an old Kodak wallet and just reliving that was great as he told me about the build up, what he and his mates did from 11am that day, having already secured time off. The build up, atmosphere by the buses before they left, etc. Both before and after the showing it was nothing but the positivity of being an Arsenal fan as a result of that performance and end to the season just under 30 years ago. And I loved that.
I love people who recount their memories online and through blogs, Twitter, etc, too. And I’m sure there are plenty around today and over the next few days to make this interlull much more palatable. There is so much made of the problems of the current team and
The players that were there as part of the side that day – and again I was fortunate enough to get a live snippet of what that particular moment in time was all about – also have a different story to tell and each one is different. Tony Adams is the golden boy that can do nothing wrong, George’s mouthpiece to the team. Lee Dixon is the quieter northern lad who is given a sense of self belief that stands out more than any in the documentary. Micky Thomas is the ice cold laid back lad who doesn’t really feel any pressure. There are literally a million different ways to tell the story and even on the pitch that night there were a minimum of 22. And each time it’s more fun for us than anything listening to them being retold.
And then documentaries like 89, which do a very good job of capturing the mood of that day, evening, then subsequent over-indulgence of everyone who was present at Anfield and then Highbury the next day.
And if you were there, or weren’t but we’re an Arsenal fan at the time and experienced the ultimate high of that game and weekend, then I’d love to hear about your corner of the world at that time. Where were you? Who were you with? How did you celebrate? These are all the things that make Football so amazing. The ability to retell a wonderful story in so many different ways and still be enthralled each time.
It really is quite a fascinating documentary and I’d encourage you to have a watch if you get the chance. It comes out on 20th November.
Catch you all tomorrow.
I am now 75 and still always a Gunner. ‘THAT’ night I was in Jersey for our first holiday in 4 years ! When I knew that I would not get a ticket for the match I decided that I could not stand the stress of being lost in Cambridge or London, so I needed to get away. I did not have the guts to watch the start so sat watching the other side until the 60th minute. It was bloody agony…constantly saying to my wife ‘ typical bloody Arsenal’ lose a title by one goal’ or ‘what is the manger doing , cant he see we don’t have enough big men forward’ etc etc. I was seething when I heard ex Spurs man Pleat say ‘ its a consolation for AFC by winning 1-0’ and I exploded when I saw Liverpool players shouting ‘one minute to go’. I nearly turned off the box but something deep inside said ‘your a Gunner for life mate’ and Mickey shocked the world. The greatest away performance I have ever seen by any team , under that pressure, in my 67 years as a Gunner. My poor wife still to this day cannot explain what happened next as I stood dumbfounded saying over and over, ‘ I think we have won the title’ but not believing it. after the program ended I raced out to the nearest Fish shop and found myself amongst hundreds of stunned Gunners celebrating but waiting to be told that the FA had decided to award the match to Liverpool. That is what its like to be a true Gunner. Years of fatalism and knocks. Knowing that the media is 80% anti the club and despite all that the players had sent them all the finger. My best AFC day ever.