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Friday
Nov112011

Addicted

BY ANDI FOSTER / @andifoster

I've not chosen to write about my first visit to watch Arsenal. It's not that I don't remember it. I do. It was sometime in March 1999 and we beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 at Highbury with all the goals (two from Bergkamp, one from Kanu) coming in the last ten minutes. 

No, I'm not going to write about that experience for two reasons. First, our seats were rubbish. Secondly, my Dad's friend had taken me along to get me out of the house so that my parents could have a chat about the possibility of splitting up.

Obviously they didn't tell me this, but I half figured it out using my intuitive Ninja skills - tickets for the match had been left on the counter with a note from my Dad to my Mum saying "Give these to Andi - now we can properly talk.” The constant fighting subtly subtly made up the other half in my mind.

So no - for obvious reasons - I'm not going to talk about that. I will however recount my three most vivid Arsenal memories....

Finding out Paul Merson had left Arsenal via Teletext.

I loved Paul Merson, I thought he was a great player. But it was more than just his style on the pitch I admired, it was the way he’d confronted his demons and seemingly recovered from almost every possible addiction imaginable. I’d had a few bad years myself and he was an example that it was possible to come out the other side intact.

Anyway, there I was one morning checking teletext – doesn’t it seem strange to think that was our main source of Arsenal news before Twitter and the internet – when I learned of Merse’s departure. My friend, a Liverpool supporter who I walked to school with each morning, turned up moments later. Just as he was about to laugh in the face of my disappointment I decided it was a good time lamp him on the nose. We’re still friends. I still see him regularly in fact. But his nose is a constant reminder of the exit of my hero. It was only later that I find out Merson quit the club for money and I’ll never forget him scoring against us when he played for Boro...

Wiltord’s goal at Old Trafford.

I was watching the match with a mate in the Wendover Arms in High Wycombe and we were absolutely surrounded by Mancs. When Wiltord hit the back of the net the pub went completely silent except for me and my mate bouncing around the place like complete muppets. The landlord asked us to leave fearing our safety. I didn’t mind, that victory was more than a title-clincher for me – it signalled the kickstarting of a year which changed my life.

Losing in League Cup Finals (Please note plural).

I won’t forget this because of the lesson in taught me. If we go one up, as we did against Chelsea in 2008, don't get too loud and shouty before the final whistle. That's why my nose now has an awkward bump.

I love being an Arsenal fan. I've been in a relationship with the club for longer than I've been married, longer than I went to school and longer than I lived with my parents (incidentally, they didn’t split up). It goes further than being a relationship though, because if you’re just seeing someone you wouldn’t put up with all the constant letdowns - you’d move on. So that must make me an addict...just like Paul. I’m just not sure I want to get over it. 

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