It doesn’t add up to a majorly significant episode in the great scheme of Arsenal things in our club’s illustrious history. It won’t be remembered as and when those in attendance last night recollect the famous game at the Emirates when the glorious Gunners came within an outstretched palm of pulling off a stunning Champions League comeback. But I tell you what, for me it summed up the majesty of Arsenal.
To put you in the picture I am talking about the conversion of a Manchester United fan from Kazakhstan. A supporter who only the day before had gratefully accepted a United shirt from a mate of mine who is a Manc. “Just don’t turn him into a Arsenal fan,” he told me after I had arranged for our foreign visitor to attend the home of football for the match against AC Milan. A ticket had become spare and surprisingly I knew of no other takers (oh ye fools of little faith) so Alexander happily came along for his first experience of football in England.
Of course, it wasn’t me who turned him into a follower of the rip-roaring red machine. Arsene Wenger and his spirited players did that with an oh-so-close display that had fans on their feet at the end applauding with gusto despite the 3-0 triumph not being enough to claw back the four goals we had shipped in the San Siro.
The Oxo Kid with his directness. RVP with his goal threat. TV5 with his winning mentality. I could go on but safe to say every man Jack who turned out for the Arsenal last night did us proud and, though they will never know it, changed the course of one man’s life forever.
Alexander, or Borat as inevitably he became known, reveled in it, cheered every touch, goal and corner and lost his voice in the process such was the ferocious support he offered the boys. “But, Alexander,” I said. “You’re a mad-keen United fan, even if it is from afar.” His response was touching. “How can I support them now when I have witnessed this?” And, I kid you not, in the immortal words of a certain AA23, he added for good measure: “I am Gooner!”
Please join me in welcoming another member to the Arsenal family. How long before Alexander starts the Kazakhstan Arsenal supporters’ group. Now that would be a first…