13 November 2004: The most memorable day in my entire Arsenal career. The reason: my best derby showdown against our rival Spurs. In the premier league history, this fixture has produced the most number of goals and has provided its viewers with a display of finesse, roughness and most importantly breathtaking goals.
For me, the away derby match of 2004 has a special place in my heart. Like every amateur fan, the game took me to another level into understanding my team better. I finally understood what a rivalry truly signified. It was Martin Jol’s first match as Spurs manager and my third derby delight.
|A Fierce Rivalry|
I vividly remember watching the game with my brothers at my uncle’s home and the delight of enjoying the match to the fullest was truly thrilling. My elder brother kept on commenting on Arsenal display and we listened to every fact that he explained. In my society, our big festival was near but we took our time to respect our parents’ orders for a later time for no Gunner would abandon his team’s display for the sake of lending a help to his parents (no offense but it is an established fact).
The game progressed in an admiring fashion and it was interesting to witness the legendary Thierry Henry leveling the score just before half time with an emphatic finish after Noureddine Naybet put Spurs ahead. As the game developed, the possibility of a low-scoring game was never given a second thought. Spurs netted in as well. Not to worry, Arsenal replied back with a quality goal. The pattern continued until finally, the game ended 5-4 with the Gunners seizing up all three points. Only later did I notice that all the nine goals were scored by nine different players. It startled me. I weighted the possibility of a player (out of a maximum 28 that could play in the field) not getting a brace from a total of nine goals scored throughout the match and the result turned out to be astounding. By any means, it was a very rare scenario. Usually, we expect the forward to at least score a brace, if not for the others. And yes, the rare history would have just been a normal history had my best player, Thierry Henry, not scored before the first half . Never mind, the game promised to deliver the best and gave me enough reasons to cherish the quality of Gunners and as many reasons to detest Spurs.
The point is that this fierce rivalry revealed a lot about Arsenal whom I was very naive. The insight into what caused this rivalry and the fierce chants flowing around the stadium gave a glimpse to what I could expect in the next derby fixtures.
Over the years, I have followed numerous Gunners vs Spurs fixtures but, never have I been so satisfied than the 2004 away derby cracker.
The 2004 away game proved to be a worthwhile experience. I recognized the faces of the goalscorers and the interest into understanding my supported team grew even wider and deeper. It is only a matter of time before a revival of the beautiful game is possible. That revival can be excavated only by digging deep into my subconscious. Until then, the joy lies in cherishing every moments of the 5-4 Arsenal win. Thank you Arsenal!