Finton's Frolic: My Emirates Debut
By Daniel Finton (Deputy Editor)
What up, Pimps?
Being an Arsenal fan is pretty depressing at the moment. We’re shit, not fun to watch, and shit. I know I said shit twice, and now thrice by the way. It’s indescribably painful for Gooners like us at the moment. Once again depression and apathy is setting in like a Thomas Partey shot nestling itself into row Z. So, I figured now might be a good time to share the story of my, personal Emirates debut — a tale of a much fatter, yet less apathetic version of the man who runs the blog series that’s known as a right opinion zone of sorts. Buckle up buttercups, we’re traveling back to the Unai Emery days — the hopeful beginning ones.
My journey started just as yours is doing, buckling up, but for an expedition through the sky. After an eight hour journey through the air, packed with flight anxiety, from Tampa International Airport to London Heathrow (an eight hour trek), my father and I finally arrived in England. The whole purpose of such an expensive, and lengthy journey was to see the Arsenal.
In the literal clouds on the plane, I could not manage even a wink of sleep given the metaphorical cloud of excitement I was engulfed in. Of course, my fear of flying did not help my case either. But that mattered no longer, after such a drawn out period thousands of feet up that I care little to think back to, we landed in the metropolis known as London.
The city is lauded for its incredible scenery, hugely significant history, and impressive diversity. It is known as one of the greatest places a Pimp can ever visit. And on that note, I absolutely hated it at first.
It smelled horrible, the stench of pollution was so potent that I could feel it burning my throat and eyes. There was boat loads of trash in the road, and the buildings just looked dirty and frankly, quite ugly for lack of a better word. I wasn’t yet in the “touristy” part, so the London I saw at first glance was what many unbearably cocky locals would deem as the “real London.” Regardless, however, I cared little of the city, I wanted to see Arsenal.
So, after getting off of the tube at Finsbury Park, and dropping off our luggage at the Travelodge, my father and I started towards the Emirates Stadium. After just 15 minutes of walking, we stumbled upon the unmissable monstrosity. I grew speechless. Heaps of supporters, bigger than those of the street's litter ready to penetrate the turnstiles stood joyous, yet somewhat nervously outside the ground that looked like a spaceship. The side was set to take on Southampton in just an hour or two. It would be the first time I ever saw my club through my very own eyes rather than through pixels.
My father and I circled the bustling ground, observing all there was to. While London may have underwhelmed, initially, the Arsenal Stadium overwhelmed. The constant emotional frog in my throat made it difficult for me to express how jubilant I was. The stadium itself is an absolute beast, seeing as it holds 60,000 supporters, I’m not sure why I expected any less. The statues of legends around the ground such as the Tony Adams and Thierry Henry ones were not regular, old casts. But instead, they were also massive, maybe even nearing eight feet in height, an attestant to their presences in Arsenal fan’s hearts.
Whilst browsing the outskirts of the Emirates, I eagerly awaited my new friend and co-host of the Arsenal Cannon Podcast. The bumptious Brighton boy Alfie Culshaw.
The fans outside the ground started to dwindle and my anxiety heightened. It almost felt like I was on the plane again. Kickoff was fast approaching and Alfie was nowhere to be seen. I texted him, eagerly, asking how close he was. Ultimately, he turned out to be late through no fault of his own, in fairness, but the ever-annoying London traffic. Another reason to despise such an overrated shit hole. To be honest though, at this point, I was so enamored by the magnificence of the Arsenal space vessel that I forgot I was in London.
Finally, the then shy and humble lad showed up and gave me his friend’s season ticket, which granted me access to the “proper fans” that stand the whole match. Upon arrival, we’d missed the first 10 minutes or so, and in my reserved manner, I grew nervous with regards to finding my seat. I asked a fellow spectator, who must have seen my confusion, but as the side neared scoring, he waved me away — understandably. In all the confusion, I spotted four empty seats next to another foreign set of supporters. Immediately after getting to the seats, Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring. Elation commenced.
For the rest of the match, Arsenal dominated Southampton. Honestly, there was an element of complacency that one could easily see within the players, and that feeling was shared by supporters. Eventually, Henrikh Mkhitaryan bagged the second of the day, and that turned out to be the final goal.
It was a routine win that probably meant nothing to many and most Arsenal fans and players. We’d fucking take that today though wouldn’t we?
But anyways for me, it was an emotional roller coaster. I was sleep deprived, anxious and ecstatic simultaneously. I thanked my dear friend Alfie for his friend’s ticket, and said I hoped to see him soon. Thank goodness I haven’t. Just kidding, love you Alfredo.
Outside the ground stood my dad, who loyally waited for me while I was having the best two hours of my life. We trudged back to the hotel and I talked about the patterns of the match, which I know he cared little about, but he acted like he did.
Upon getting to the humble, yet oddly nice hotel, that was only about $50 (£40 or so) a night, we each laid in our oddly tiny, European beds and dozed off for around 13 hours. In retrospect, the beds would serve normally for any normal human being, but we WERE fat sacks of American shit.
I woke up the next morning, still high from the adrenaline of it all. I told my dad how desperate I was to go to the Emirates again. Not for any reason, just to be close to my home again.
We did so, and even the vibe the ground gives off while empty made me the happiest man on earth for very many moments. The sheer size of the club makes the intimacy within it a true achievement, let’s not forget that in this depressing state. Many large teams just aren’t like the Gunners — there’s only one Arsenal. Sometimes it may not feel like it, and we don't want to admit it, but we're a family.
I loved and love everything about my visit. It's bizarre, now I find myself missing not only Arsenal in the flesh, but the best city in the world: London. I long for the stench, I long for the arrogant rudeness of the inhabitants, but above all, I dream of going back home as soon as possible.
Hang in there, Pimps. Arsenal will be back — just like I.