Arsenal Expects Every Man To Do His Duty On This Day, 26th May 1989

No matter how much the broadcasters of today might try to paint the end of the 2011-12 season as the most exciting in the history of the game, it was not. Nowhere near. 1st v 2nd for the title, home of the leaders, still the dominant force in English football. 2nd place team requires a two-goal victory, a margin of defeat that the home side had not tasted on their own ground in over three years.

Having procured our tickets barely a fortnight earlier, arrangements were made for the meet-up in Guildford. Time off work secured, the pub beckoned and that last pint was almost costly. Welcome though as we travelled to Anfield in Larry’s van; an escort with room for driver and a passenger in the front, third person in the back. No seats. Still, fairs fair, one person in the back on the way up, the other on the way home. Alcohol certainly helped with the bruises suffered, numbing my pain as Anfield drew closer.

Hearing “A Place In The Sun” by The Men They Couldn’t Hang – a band I used to see regularly with Jon and Al – on the radio as the sun shone through the windscreen brought a sense of well-being, a rarely heard single in those days (in any day) seemed to make the day complete. Anywhere inside the Home Counties was considered fair game for a TMTCH gig. What memories of those nights as well; dodgy pubs in Harlesden (I knew the Irish branch of the family would come in useful some day); dubious hairs in a raita, never stopping to find out what joys the curry would bring; ales quaffed here, there and quite possibly everywhere; tales for another arena.

Nothing prepared us for the traffic though; horrendous to the extent that we just made kick-off. And the match. I remember snatches of it, quite big chunks from our vantage point by a terrace entrance, close to the home fans. Alan Smith’s goal? Surely he touched it? Didn’t he? The opinions of the officials were all that counted and not enough credit was given to the referee and linesman for having the strength of character to withstand the pressure from Liverpudlian players and supporters alike.

Mickey Thomas blew it. Grobbelaar saved a tame shot with what seemed like minutes to go and then the glorious moment. As the ball hit the back of the net, I felt lifted by the wave of emotion, genuinely leaving my feet, turning and sinking to my knees in the open space with   an old couple standing in the entrance to the terrace, tears in the man’s eyes. It remains and difficult moment to capture in words; sheer undiluted joy. The lifetime of disappointment before and since can be forgotten with moments like this.

Even the bricks that rained in on us from the footbridge as we left the city could not dim the moment. I wonder what happened to those kids as several cars pulled in and gave chase. I don’t actually, it doesn’t take too much imagination.

I bought a copy of each newspaper the following morning. And on the Sunday as well. For a month or two, I bought every football magazine that was published. All the clippings and a photocopy of my matchday programme and the ticket are in a scrapbook which still sees the light of day every now and then.

It was an amazing night and even though I enjoy title wins and cup triumphs, nothing comes close to the emotions of that night in May.

(Click on images to enlarge)

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12 thoughts on “Arsenal Expects Every Man To Do His Duty On This Day, 26th May 1989

  1. The greatest night of my life, I still get goosebumps when I think about it,

  2. In a dream I had last night, I remember asking someone I didn’t know what he thought the best match of all time was. He didn’t reply but this was the game that I was thinking of when I asked the question. Spooky! What a night. One I will remember for the rest of my life without doubt.

  3. what a night the greatest finish to a season ever ,i can remember some of the liverpool players walking around shaking each others hands thinking it was all over then bang it was all over just not the way they thought .just shows you what determination and grit can do for a team

  4. Pingback: All Hail The Conquering Arsenal Heroes On This Day, 28th May 1989 | Arsenal On This Day

  5. I am an arsenal FC fan ever since we had a chance to watch premier league in my remote village in India.I have heard of MU only and obviously I followed them.In one of the match I lliked the oppenent very much.It was their jersy which attracted me first. Then their style and speed of play. Their left back taking the ball from their post to the other post,their midfielder trying trying and collecting back the loset ball from the opponent,their forward placing the ball into the net as if it is the easiest job for
    now I know those days will never be back. Reading yoir article I envy the atsenal fans of that day.tthei r hnames are Cole,Lungberg,

  6. i think alot of people forget the importance of george graham in the development of arsenal football club he brought his own grit and organization to a team that badly needed it, football was changing and george laid the foundation for arsene wenger if it was not for the famous back four/five i doubt we would of had the success as quickly as we did.after all george had an eye for a player and a plan A B and C.so we should all say a thank you to george (stroller) graham

  7. 2 league titles, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cups, 1 Cup-winners’ Cup, 1 Charity Shield.

    £400k was a pittance.

  8. Is the crowning of CITY the highest thirller EPL ever witnessed?
    After being trailed for 2-1 till the end,equalising on 90th minute,still wanting to win for their first ever priemier league(aftet it has been re-birthed as EPL -other wise 2nd time in more than 100 years) scoring on the 92nd minute and becoming leauge champions is one of the greatest thriller we have seen recently.After a week we have witnessed another thriller at Munich.
    But is it the greatest thriller? of course not at all. Like our new rich Cityechs and their owners Saudi sheikhs, the Indian(and of course their Kerala copy cats ) media don’t know (have) history.
    They don’t even know the traditional english clubs with gteat pedigree. They will spell,pronounce not only the the players but also the clubs wrongly.
    But thanks to the compettition from news channals, they are now slowly understanding that a game called football is there and it is most intensively played in Europe and greatest among them is the EPL. Later they will also understand that their will be at least 1000 foot ball players who earns more than Tendullar by merely playing this game.
    After spending all the big money, City was expected to win the the league this time arond and nobody expected relagation bound QPR (another newly rich-this one by Indian bollioner Mittal) to beat them.In fact all the pundirs predicted MU to be winners this time again and city to be in 2nd place (should have been exactly correct had it not been for the 92nd goal)
    Their was a club called Arsrnal in the 3rd place and if you (The malyalee news copiers) really want to know greatest league final day fight, go through their history.
    “malappurathu naalu paper adhikam vilkkumenkil achayan futbolum patikkum”
    But for that you need higher level of intelligence not the one reading Achu as great scholar,Vijayan as non intelligent and P.C. as clever.

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