The year was 1975. The venue: T******** High Road. Those facts will never leave me. What has become a blur over the intervening years is exactly what sparked the horrendous football violence I witnessed that day as me and my Dad strolled along to watch the Arsenal play the north London derby. We were forced to take shelter in a chip shop as mounted police tried desperately to restore order as warring mobs fought battles up and down the road.
The game? Instantly forgettable other than the goalless stalemate that ensued recorded the match as the first ever 0-0 draw between God’s Own and the team that dare not speak its name. As a 10-year-old I knew that we weren’t supposed to like T******** but it was that day that I realised why. And I have disliked everything about them since. As I have mellowed over the years it has turned to pity. So that is why I can’t bring myself to want them to win tonight when they play Chelsea at the antiquated excuse of a football ground they inhabit.
I know, I know. We have a slim chance of still lifting the title and for that to happen Chelsea have to drop points. Were T******** to triumph and we overcome Wigan tomorrow then a glimmer of hope would emerge. But it is only that. To me the season is over save for retaining the Champions League spot. I haven’t got a fibre in my body that ever, and I mean EVER, wants T******** to prevail.
No, I don’t like Chelsea either. A lot of my pals, fellow Gooners, have grown to hate Chelsea as much as T******** as they have witnessed their rise from the wilderness to supposedly challenge us as London’s top club. But once the world turns, and history is re-written, they will undoubtedly take their place as a no-mark outfit once buoyed by a Russian’s billions, left to flounder when he tired of his plaything.
Another decade or so and they’ll be playing in front of 6,000 at home to Shrewsbury. Their fans? The ones that were there originally (not the stockbrokers and shiny-shoes-and-braces types drawn to west London by the fine wines and excessive prices) those who know deep down they are punching above their weight, will be happy as pigs in shit. They’ll still be able to throw up sieg heil salutes and terrorise away fans. Heck, they may even bring back the electric fence at Shit Bridge to make them feel more at home.
Back to T******** and the game later: The other issue I dread is that they make it into the top four. Remember, they have never played in Europe’s elite competition and for them to do so would be a sad indictment to our game and help feed their rabid, nonsensical belief that they can ever compare to us. So why not settle for a draw? That way neither side wins and both have dropped points in their respective quests. Not for me. Chelsea winning 5-0 would do me. And if it meant T******** not getting fourth spot I’d even welcome a Manchester City win at the Emirates next week!

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