Saturday 18th October 2014 – Arsenal 2 – 2 Hull City AFC
FA Premier League @ The Emirates, London
A fixture littered with ups and downs for Hull fans; unfortunately for Hull’s famous 2-1 victory over Arsenal back in 2008, I broke the cardinal rule of booking two weeks away during the football season (yeah yeah, better than the play-off final, piss off….). So to date, my Emirates experience has been limited to a 2-1 FA Cup QF defeat and a 2-0 Niklas Bendtner inspired defeat last season.
But my most recent experience of Arsenal was obviously throwing away a two goal lead in last season’s FA Cup Final at Wembley. Gutting, and a something that still hurts (exacerbated by Hull throwing away their Europa League ‘prize’ to focus on the League, but that is a rant in itself….)
So to The Emirates then for some revenge? Almost……
Arsenal are a club with a great history, some fine players, and without doubt (in Ground Grab’s esteemed opinion), the finest stadium in England, no doubt Europe, from an optical perspective.
What is there not to like? It is huge, but at the same time the view is top notch, and you have leather seats with ample leg room – check out my view that fine October Saturday (unfortunately the chap standing on the far right of the picture remained standing in the way of everybody else for the entire match……)
Ground Grab has recently moved to Kent, so this particular trip was something of a rushed affair, with no real opportunity to sample the more decent local boozers. So instead I made the relatively lazy trip from Highbury & Islington Station to The Famous Cock Tavern (err, next door….) – as pre-match pubs come, this did the job. Nice mix of Arsenal and Hull fans (kits and colours akimbo) with no bother at all, the home fans revelling in local rivals Spurs losing for the 864th time in a row to Man City by > 3 goal margin. Beer is ‘London prices’, and be warned, this place gets pretty busy, so expect a good 5-10 minute wait at the bar (and take cash!), it also randomly (for football pubs) has a ‘bog troll’…..
Whilst spacious in the open, the concourse at The Emirates is somewhat cramped (presumably to make way for a few more corporate boxes), so rather than queue for 20 minutes for a brew, it was straight to my seat.
After their well documented comeback in May, I was expecting goads of “Two nil, ya facked it ap…”; previous trips to The Emirates been something of a fuck all in terms of atmosphere – the odd “Arseeenaaaaal, Arseeenaaal”, and a quiet song about Corzola…..so I’m not sure why I expected anything different. It wasn’t different. There was nothing about what happened in May, which I guess suited Hull fans……
It was also noticed, in a rather lame attempt to make the place a bit more ‘Dortmund-esque’, that Arsenal appear to have employed some bods at either end of the pitch to wave huge ultra-style flags. I had seen these before in CL matches on TV, and assumed it was fans doing the flag waving, but no, outsourced (perhaps there is a health and safety reason? Arsenal fans – answers on a postcard please…..)
So atmosphere not great (sorry Arsenal fans…..), so what for visiting fans? Unfortunately it was the ever present demands by some not quite ‘heavies’ to sit down. Ground Grab is not a fan of sitting down at the football, but in the interests of making sure everyone enjoys the game, always obliges…..still sucks though. At least the seats are leather. And like I said, shit hot view of the game.
The game itself was tip-top. These guys can write a better match report than I can, but to come away from Arsenal disappointed with a 2-2 draw was an emotion I never thought I would experience.
After a fast Arsenal start – and them going 1-0 up – Diame equalised; I didn’t see the foul until MOTD later that night, but then I’m not sure anybody other than Wenger and Mertersacker did either (I certainly don’t recall any noise from the home fans about it). From that moment on – up until just past the hour mark – it was all City, which was great, especially given we lost our 1st choice striker to injury in the warm up, and our 2nd choice goalkeeper to injury at the end of the 2nd half.
So with City leading 2-1 at the end of the allotted 90, it was only to be expected that 5 minutes of added time was announced (sod’s law, right?). In a near repeat of May’s cup final, Wellbeck equalised; to say he broke hearts is an overstatement, but it was a gutting feeling. Two points dropped? But hey, 1 point from a game we were never expected to win….not a bad afternoon out.
The trip back from an Arsenal is a bit of a scrum; quite a lot of ‘first timer’ home fans not knowing where to go amongst the 60,000 heading home. The queue outside of H&I Station was huge when I got there, so I headed for The White Swan for a final pint before home; nice pub (typical ‘spoons re-hash of an old theatre / snooker hall etc), but a noticable absence of away fan colours – not sure I can recommend it as somewhere for away fans to visit pre and post match for that reason, but if like me you go ‘neutral’, a good place to kill some time whilst you wait for the queues to die down.
If I only I had walked a bit faster, I could have been as lucky as this guy: