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Captain Planet

"One Minute!"

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“One Minute!”
May 26, 2014  / arseblog
“One minute”, he gestured, holding up one Mugsmashing finger. “One minute.”
 
That’s all they had to hang on for. Just one minute and the title would be theirs. One measly minute. 60 seconds. The effort from the opposition was brave but not quite good enough. They lacked the experience to defeat the defending champions, the team of the decade, and would go south again disappointed. Perhaps ruing that game against Derby.
 
“One minute! Come on. One minute.”
 
That finger aloft, making sure his mates knew how close it was. And then John Barnes had the ball. Heading towards the corner flag. All he had to do was go there and keep the ball away from the Arsenal players. Instead, he dribbled into the box, looking to add some icing to a cake that really didn’t need it. If only he’d known back then that you’ve got to hold and give, but do it at the right time.
 
This was not the right time. He lost the ball to Richardson who gave it back to Lukic.
 
30 seconds. If that.
 
Lukic bowls it to out Dixon, as Arsenal come streaming forward in what will surely be their last attack. Dixon plays a good ball into midfield finding Smith. He knocks it forward for Thomas who is moving rapidly through the midfield towards the Liverpool area.
 
Moving rapidly.
 
Storming.
 
Rushing.
 
Racing.
 
Dashing.
 
Dammit. It’s not right. Must be something else.
 
Hurtling.
 
Careering.
 
Galloping.
 
Charging.
 
Yes!
 
Charging!
 
Thomas is charging through the midfield. The ball takes a nick off the defender and he’s through on goal. It’s there for him to make history. To win the league in the most dramatic way possible. All he has to do is shoot now. Just shoot. Come on. How much time to do you want to take? The defenders are almost on top of you. Grobbelaar is coming out of his goal.
 
You’ve got to do it now. Just shoot. Do it. COME ON. They’re going to get the ball. Oh please. Just shoot now. It’s been ages. Minutes. Don’t you know that it’s up for grabs now? It is. All you have to do is shoot. WHY AREN’T YOU SHOOTING YET?!
 
Ray Houghton, I think, is running really, really fast towards you. And it could be Steve Nicol coming from the other side. It doesn’t matter exactly who though, but for goodness sake Michael Thomas can you please now put the ball in the net and stop all this not putting the ball in the net because I am getting nervous and even when I watch it 25 years later there’s still a part of me that worries that you’ve held onto it too long and they’ll get back and make a clearance denying us the greatest ever GOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL …
 
It’s in!
 
Thomas tumbles. Winterburn races across the face of goal with an arm in the air. Thomas recovers from his tumble then uses his neck to wiggle around lying a dying fish but a dying fish that has just scored the most thrilling goal many of us will ever experience. It’s virgin territory for some, an unbelievable climax.
 
No minutes. A final Liverpool foray forward. Thomas turns it back to Lukic. It goes long, a sprinty slide by Perry Groves to try and stop it coming forward again but that’s it.
 
Definitely no minutes. Aldridge is down, upset not only at the poor quality of his moustache but the fact the title has been taken from them. Kind-hearted David O’Leary goes over to help his international colleague to his feet, but Aldridge shrugs him off. The two will never speak again (or maybe they do but who cares?).
 
A corner of Anfield goes berserk. North London erupts. A 17 year old lad in Dublin can’t quite believe what he’s seen but knows it’s special. Made more so by the fact there was a live game of football on TV on a Friday night. Hard to reconcile with the modern era and live coverage or a stream being so ubiquitous, but back then this was very much the exception rather than the norm.
 
Forget what they try and tell you about the way Man City won the title a couple of years ago. Sure, it was dramatic, but it was two drunks in a park acting out a scene from a school show compared to this Royal Shakespeare Company production. A team built with billions playing 10 fairly hapless men doesn’t even compare to what that group of Arsenal players did.
 
In the mists of time people forget too easily the brilliance and experience of that Liverpool team. They were the dominant force in England, they came with an aura of invulnerability, and this was an Arsenal side put together from bits and scraps from our youth team and signings from teams like Stoke, Wimbledon and Watford.
 
“You haven’t got a prayer, Arsenal”, said the Mirror on the day of the game. Thankfully ignoring the fact that you don’t need a prayer. You need a man … charging through the midfield at exactly the right time.
 
“One minute!”
 
It doesn’t even take that long.

 

 

 

Edit sorry was meant to post in Arsenal room :/

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