Not quite the day the music died but a tumultuous day in Arsenal’s history, and that of the wider game. English football would never be the same again when the final whistles blew around the grounds this day. The Football League’s grip on power was loosened to fingernails as the Premier League came into existence.
With the broadcasting revenues since, revisionism has become a mantra strictly adhered to. Nothing before 1992-93 exists unless it can be repackaged into a Gold Channel highlights programme. Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.
More terminally, the terrace culture ended. On the day we said goodbye to The North Bank, home counties fans in their thousands flocked to Old Trafford to bid farewell to The Stretford End.
A generation of football fans will never understand what is was like to stand on the terraces. It certainly was not brilliant, clubs and police treating their supporters as criminals, cattle on their way to the slaughterhouse were afforded more space by legislation.
Yet there was a camaraderie that existed, a tension that fed the atmosphere. There are too many glorious nights in my memories to single one out, great nights for me for reasons that have nothing to do with the matches played out on the pitch.
Events I had previously forgotten flooded back. Silly things. Catering sheds at the back of the terrace revamped with plush surroundings for the time despite the preponderance of aluminium and plastic. Jumbotron Screens fanfared in their arrival. They didn’t do anything during the match except stand erect and steadfast in telling you that there had yet to be any goals.
I miss the half-time board, letters denoting the match and a furious scramble to find out if it was Spurs losing 0 – 4 at half-time. I never failed to be disappointed when I found out is was Norwich or Coventry not Chelsea suffering although they spent considerable time in Division Two which was always funny.
By the time this match had come about, we had become more grown up. 1989-90 had been our first season in the West Lower; we had good seats on the halfway line just far enough back to be covered when it rained. But for one day only, we returned to the terracing.
And enjoyable it was too. Well, the last fifteen minutes or so anyway when Ian Wright went goal mad. It was fitting that this was the season that the North Bank went I suppose. The all-conquering side from the year before had been exposed ruthlessly as Arsenal descended into functional football rather than flourishing.
Gone but never forgotten.