Monday, 29 August 2011

Away Days: The day the Gooner army sang its heart out

New for 2011/2012 on is a series of articles about the ups and occasional downs of being a Gooner at an away match. Here Akhil Vyas, who was singing his heart out in the away end as Arsenal went down 8-2 at Old Trafford, gives his experience of the trip to Machester for yesterday's Premier League game.

Well, that did not quite go to plan, did it? The positive? The performance from us, the supporters. The negative? Where do I start!

I got to Manchester around midday and headed straight to the Wetherspoons in Manchester City Centre. Then came the awkward moment of trying to fit in and not making it too obvious you’re an away supporter. We met a few fellow gooners and started talking tactics and as you can well imagine the talk of transfers came up once or twice.

We then got to the ground about an hour before kick off and were welcomed in the away section with chants (and beer thrown on the TV screens) aimed at Samir Nasri who of course was playing for City at the time. The usual meet and greet took place in the concourse as you regularly meet the same people on away days. The emergence of Twitter has meant you often meet people you haven’t met before who recognise you from your Twitter profile picture. A few more pints of lager or cider depending on what you drink and we headed for our seats.

Over the last few years we haven’t had much to celebrate at Old Trafford so when Theo Walcott was awarded a penalty it was met by jubilation by the travelling faithful. The less said about the actual penalty the better however I do feel the amount of pressure on Robin Van Persie to score goals along with the occasion got to him as he did not make clean contact with the ball.

3-0 down but a Theo Walcott goal just gave Arsenal some glimmer of hope as the half time whistle went. The second half started and Robin Van Persie had a volley saved which would have made the game interesting; after which it was all one way traffic with Manchester United scoring goals of high quality.

The performance of the half undoubtedly should be awarded to the away fans who didn’t give in from around the 47th minute until the final whistle the choruses of we love you Arsenal could be heard by the 70,000 inside Old Trafford.

You would think conceding eight goals would result in people leaving early however that was not the case as the majority of the away section stayed and sung until the end.

Goal scorers Robin Van Persie and Theo Walcott came over to the away support and showed their appreciation at the wonderful support. This was a day that will be deleted from the memory of most Arsenal supporters but the ones in the away section can be proud of the support they provided and certainly enhanced the reputation as one of the best away support in the country.

With the news that Arsenal are to practically refund away supporters, my reaction is that it may have just hit home how damaging a day it was yesterday. I did not expect a refund as it was my choice to purchase a match ticket and despite the loss I have no plans to sell my Blackburn away ticket.

Football is like an addiction, I cannot keep away and will always try and go to as many games as I can afford. It is a good touch from the club however, as it may have just hit home how hard this month has been for supporters.

Akhil Vyas writes his own blog. You can follow him on Twitter. is looking for a fan heading to Borussia Dortmund for the Champions League game on September and also someone heading to Ewood Park for the Premier League game with Blackburn to write about their away day experience. If you'd like to get involved, contact us via Twitter or Email.

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