As Theo Walcott’s mis-kick dribbled wide of the goal and television pictures scanned to the Arsenal bench to reveal Arsene Wenger’s looks of utter hopelessness and frustration I thought our Premier League dream was over.
I thought for all our scrapping, for all of our determination to fight back and snatch points with several goals as late as a Karl Henry tackle, it would all come down to nothing.
It’s not as though I didn’t think this might happen: that we actually might not win the league. With Manchester United and Chelsea leading us all the way and our injury crisis the envy of no team in the land it’s not like we were ever going to be favourites.
But for it to end here at home against Wolves? I really didn’t see that coming and it made the feeling all the worse.
As I sat in the living room at home in Australia at 2am in the morning I looked across to my right at my brother Patrick, sitting in a stressed silence, his brow frozen in a furrow. I looked across to my friend Darragh, his hands on his head squeaking noises of frustration with the situation we had got ourselves in.
And I noted the way I was feeling. Utterly defeated, wondering what the heck I was doing up at this ridiculous hour watching football the day before Easter, when kiddies all around the country were wrapped up in their beds ready to eat themselves sick in the morning.
But my thoughts were interrupted as Rosicky picked up the ball in midfield. He passed it to Walcott who decided against going at his man as he had done so many times already, instead shifting it back to Bacary Sagna who hit a first-time cross into the middle. And then…
The three of us jumped out of our seats, yelling at the top of our lungs, form some sort of man-triangle of love that would have made our mothers proud. When people say that the feelings felt watching football are better than sex, these are the sorts of moments they are talking about. But then…
With the game still running and Wolves on a late, post-goal attack I did the dutiful thing and raced downstairs to answer the door. Behind it stood our next-door neighbour – a hilariously worrisome fellow with whom we do not have the best relationship – and the look of expression on his face was not the sort of a person delighted to have been woken at 2am in the morning.
“What’s going on?” he asked, “Is everything alright? It’s two in the morning! You woke up my sister and she thought someone had hurt themselves!”
“I’m sorry!” I replied, “We were just celebrating our team. I’m so, so sorry!”
But as I slammed the door and raced upstairs to see the referee blow the final and watch Emmanuel Eboue race onto the pitch to lift up the hero of the day and carry him around the pitch like the World Cup, I didn’t feel sorry at all.
I might have felt ecstatic, relieved and utterly, utterly exhausted, but I sure as hell didn’t feel sorry.
Football, what a game.
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