Vital Football

Latest Arsenal FC News

The Best Matches Ever Part 10

The Best Matches Ever Part 10

This match will conclude this little series. Some of my criteria has varied within the series, I have picked matches of huge historical significance to our football club; the away matches at Inter and Real Madrid for instance. Some have been seemingly run of the mill matches illuminated by moments of brilliance; Middlesbrough and Southampton spring to mind. Others have been oft ignored matches of symbolic import, emphasising a shift in Arsenal's footballing landscape (Torino and Manchester United). But this one is included for reasons of more personal resonance.

Having been privileged to spend my life to this point following a truly successful team, I have been fortunate enough to witness moments that other football fans can dream of. But I have often wondered what it would be like to support a less glamorous, considerably less decorated side. Travelling to the likes of Rochdale and Grimsby on a Tuesday night in the hope that, by winning our last seventeen games and hoping that every single other match in the Division finishes a draw, we might just bag a play off spot. Growing up where I did I could easily have been taken in by the solicitous gaze of Millwall, Crystal Palace or Charlton Athletic. About 90% of my football loving social entourage support Millwall and I quite often go to the Den with them on occasions when my beloved Arsenal are not playing. (In fact, I went along to watch their game with Oldham this weekend, and if you think Cashley got some stick, you should have seen what Lee Hughes got. At one point, someone ran onto the pitch to try and punch him!) It's a curious fascination to see life on the other side as it were, and the reason I choose this match against Doncaster is that I got a small sample of the other side of the fence in the context of an Arsenal fixture, without running off to a lower league side for a bit of extra marital slap and tickle!

Days after being drawn against Real Madrid in the Champions' League, the Gunners' were drawn to play away at Doncaster Rovers on a Tuesday night, four days before Christmas in the League Cup. The draw represented my first chance to stand on terracing to watch Arsenal in a first team game, the Taylor Report having come into effect the very year I would begin to go to live matches. The tie was awkwardly timed and to be played in a ramshackle stadium on a cold Tuesday evening. The very disenchanting nature of it what was excited me so, a chance to do some pretentious football tourism was most welcome. In fact, it was a little bit like one of those vulgar reality shows! With the home support crammed in tightly, the travelling support took the chance to remove their monacles and titter dismissivley at the facilities, 'I say Giles, look at their director's boxes. They look like Public School P.E changing rooms, chortle, chortle.' I arrived outside the ground and, to my horror, the mobile refreshment facility stationed outside the away turnstile had run out of avocado and rocket baguettes!

The home fans did not take long to taunt the aristocrats penned behind the North goal, 'who the fookin' hell are you?' they implored. To which the reply came, 'where the f**k were you last week?' in immacluate grammar. But on four minutes, Belle Vue went stir crazy when Michael McIndoe squeezed in Shaun Thornton's left wing cross. Arsenal's young guns, including the likes of Seba Larsson, Alex Song, Nicklas Bendtner and Quincy Owusu Abeyie struggled to get to grips with Donny's rustic approach. Rovers could have had a two goal lead but for an heroic double save by Almunia from Lewis Guy. Time and again, Arsenal moves would break down amongst a littany of passes (culminating in the chant, 'all we want's a fucking shot!'- amazing how one can be contaminated when forced to socialise with the great unhosed. But after an hour of struggle and strife, Quincy Owusu Abeyie drove a shot from the edge of the box which flew in via a massive deflection from Thornton. 'We've only had one shot!' came the mocking taunt of travelling Gooners.

The match moved into extra time, and with Donny flat out on their feet and probably satisfied with how far they had pushed the mighty Gunners, they were ours for the taking. But one minute before the end of the first period of extra time, Almunia saved Guy's effort, Senderos hesitated with a clearance inside his own six yard box and Paul Green stole in to give the Vikings a shock lead. The young Arsenal side looked shell shocked, with the goal renewing Donny's desire and draining the lactic acid from their legs, Arsenal simply could not break them down. 'Are you watching Real Madrid?' came the chant from a travelling support resigned to loss. In the last minute of extra time, Emmanuel Eboue sprinted down the right touchline and sent in a low cross which the marauding Gilberto ghosted onto to equalise. The feeling of relief was only momentary, as the prospect of the great leveller, the penalty shoot out beckoned.

Donny won the toss and the shoot took place in front of their fans amassed in the South Stand. The Arsenal players formed a beeline in the centre circle, blocking the view of half of the away section! With no response to, 'Arsenal, out the way, Arsenal. Arsenal out the way' forthcoming, hundreds of us scuttled around the terrace, craning our necks for a semblance of a view. Yours truly drastically over estimated his athlecticism and threshold for pain by scaling the steel fence at the back of the stand and clinging on to the metal railings for dear life. Up stepped Pascal Cygan first, much to the bemusement of the Arsenal fans, but he tucked his effort away neatly to make it 1-0 in the shoot out. Donny replied in kind. Gilberto Silva restored the lead, before Michael McIndoe smashed his effort against Almunia's legs. Seba Larsson gave Arsenal a 3-1 lead and when Paul Green put his penalty wide, Alex Hleb had the chance to apply the finishing touch. But being the socially conscious aristocrats we are, Hleb simply passed the ball back to their keeper to give the little ones a chance. Ahhhh. But Lewis Guy spurned the millionaire's scraps and hit the bottom of the post to give Arsenal a frankly undeserved victory. On our coach home we clebrated with a glass of sherry and some nibbles. So there you have it, an awful performance, in a dour match in a ramshackle 'arena' (now replaced by the state of the art Keepmoat Stadium), on a freezing night. The reason I recall it with such fervour is that, for about two hours, I got an all too real insight into an alternative reality, and you know what? There was a real perverse charm to it. But I wouldn't swap what we have now with anyone in the world.LD

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Join the Vital Fantasy Football League - its Free!

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Thursday December 20 2007
Time: 2:07PM


Great write up LD. Did anyone see that Theo is the only doubt for the spurs game. That means Eboue is fit and practicing. This will be the first game in a long time that we will have our first choice squad availible. Perfect timing!! :)
20/12/2007 17:20:00
Adebayor to score a hat-trick is's featured bet at 18 to 1. The last featured bet was Diaby to score first in the Blackburn game at 20-1 and I did it and it happened! Any takers on this one?
20/12/2007 17:32:00
go for it gk107. he'll get 2 at least against that defence, so why not
20/12/2007 17:56:00
I fondly remember this game, too. Doncaster were very resilient and perhaps deserved more from the game. There were so many interesting moments in this game, Almunia's double save and Cygan as 1st pen taker were the highlights for me.
20/12/2007 18:13:00
I wonder LD, has the gme vs Blackburn from the other night not been so recent, would it have made this series?
21/12/2007 20:21:00
Page 1/1
  1. 1

Login to post a comment

Best of Vital Network

Recent Arsenal Articles

Vital Pre-Match - Premier League, 29th-31st Oct

The 2016-17 season continues with the latest round of matches this weekend, which will see us among those having a match in this upcoming schedule with three-points the aim of course.

Jenkinson Ready To Battle Bellerin

After his first Arsenal appearance since May 2014 against Reading, of course during this time he had loans with West Ham and a long-term injury, Jenkinson's hoping for more chances.

Aguero In From Manchester City?

Manchester City are unlikely to sell Aguero but if they do, with it said his relationship with Guardiola is 'strained', Arsenal, Chelsea & Tottenham are all ready to step in?

Iwobi Impresses Wenger But Still Has Work To Do

Alex Iwobi, who has managed 33 first-team outings for Arsenal since breaking into the first-team having apparently chosen the Gunners over West Ham, has netted just twice though.

Archived Vital Arsenal Articles

Vital Arsenal articles from

Site Journalists

Editor email
no email
no email

Current Poll (see more polls)

Sunderland v Arsenal
Suggested By:
Arsenal win100%
Sunderland win0%
ScoopDragon Premier League Network Sites

League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
1 Man City 9 6 2 1 20 11
2 Arsenal 9 6 2 1 20 10
3 Liverpool 9 6 2 1 20 9
4 Chelsea 9 6 1 2 19 10
5 Spurs 9 5 4 0 19 9
6 Everton 9 4 3 2 15 5
7 Man Utd 9 4 2 3 14 1
8 Southampton 9 3 4 2 13 3
9 Watford 9 3 3 3 12 0
10 AFC Bournemouth 9 3 3 3 12 0
11 Crystal Palace 9 3 2 4 11 0
12 Leicester City 9 3 2 4 11 -4
13 WBA 9 2 4 3 10 0
14 Burnley 9 3 1 5 10 -5
15 West Ham 9 3 1 5 10 -7
16 Stoke 9 2 3 4 9 -7
17 Middlesbrough 9 1 4 4 7 -4
18 Hull City 9 2 1 6 7 -14
19 Swansea 9 1 2 6 5 -7
20 Sunderland 9 0 2 7 2 -10
The Vital Football Members League
Latest F1 News
Latest Vital Boxing News
Vital Football Comment

Recent Arsenal Results (view all)

Arsenal Fixtures (view all)

Oct 29 2016 12:30PM : Sunderland (a)
Barclays Premier League
Nov 6 2016 12:00PM : Tottenham Hotspur (H)
Barclays Premier League
Nov 19 2016 12:30PM : Manchester United (a)
Barclays Premier League
Nov 27 2016 2:15PM : AFC Bournemouth (H)
Barclays Premier League
Dec 3 2016 3:00PM : West Ham United (a)
Barclays Premier League
Dec 10 2016 3:00PM : Stoke City (H)
Barclays Premier League

Vital Members League Table

2.Galway Gooner5
5.mar 121
Write for Vital Football