Trips to Everton always promise to be feisty affairs. Everton, under the stewardship of David Moyes, have more often than not, punched above their weight. And, Arsenal have usually enjoyed their trips to the blue half of Merseyside.
This particular match remains in my memory, because, it effectively was my first game as an Arsenal supporter!
Everton 1 (Carsley 64) – Arsenal 4 (Bergkamp 23, Reyes 39, Ljungberg 54, Pires 83)
I vividly remember my high school days, when I was introduced to the world of Premier League football, by my high-school cronies. Messrs Siddarth, Sumegh, Krishnadev and Dheeraj.
Well, Siddarth was a glory hunter. Sorry mate 😛 Reason was pretty simple. His favorite’s in sport were Manchester United, Michael Schumacher and Ferrari, Valentino Rossi and of course he taken a liking to Maria Sharapova! Krishnadev, however was not a typical glory hunter. He was a Manchester United fan of course, but in Formula 1, he preferred Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya, would soon become a Nascar driver, though.
Dheeraj was not a fan of a club in particular. His only love was Michael Owen, so he was unsure about whom to support, the hugely popular Manchester United, or Owen’s Liverpool. As of today, he is yet to make that important life choice. Sumegh, well, he was the first Arsenal fan I met. And, he was a big big Arsenal fan. Loved Thierry Henry to bits!
For someone like me, who had just begun to follow a bit of football, I was yet to make my decision. I mean, I wasn’t even sure, if I wanted to watch much of football. I would just involve myself as the four of them got into heated arguments over the finer nuances of English football.
I was a bit of a yo-yo-ing glory hunter. I would swing between supporting Manchester United and Arsenal. Even as we finished our 9th grade, Arsenal were crowned league champions in 2004.
To be honest, I did not know about Arsenal’s feat, and the buzz of the 2004/2005 season among my friends got me more interested about football, and on India’s 57th Independence Day on August 15th 2004, I became a Gooner!
Arsenal faced Everton on opening day, and I could barely watch the match, thank’s to family’s obsession of watching disastrous Hindi soap’s. Anyways, every time there was a commercial break, I would switch channels to watch the match.
Arsenal were breathtaking to watch. Sublime, slick and easy on the eye. Quick moments between players, like Henry and Pires, and some cute flicks by Bergkamp, the bullish approach of Ljungberg. I had instantly fallen in love with this team.
Of course, I wasn’t watching the full game, but glimpses of Arsenal’s game were enough to capture my loyalties. I did get to watch the third goal though. A Henry pass came into the path of Ljungberg, who had the easy task of tapping the ball home.
This was the first goal I had celebrated, and will remain long in my memory, especially because of the perplexed looks on the faces of my family! 😀
Minutes later, when I switched channels, the score was 1-3. Everton had gotten one back through Lee Carsley. However, Arsenal sealed the result when Robert Pires scored a simple goal, after the Everton goalie was unable to hold on to a save he had made from Henry’s shot.
Meanwhile, news had poured in that Manchester United had lost to Chelsea. So, that sealed the deal for me as well. Arsenal were my team.
Arsenal endured a bit of a frustrating season. Their unbeaten run was ended at Old Trafford in acrimonious circumstances. And, despite being an Arsenal fan for just about 3 months, I was so devastated, I refused to speak for an entire day!
There was sweet revenge, though, at the end of the season, when Arsenal scraped past the Red Devils on penalties after a one-sided affair in Cardiff.
But, the blurry memories of my first Arsenal game will linger long!
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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