Arsenal are what everyone should aspire to, a team of skillful fit players. Show Arsene an athlete and he’ll mould them into a footballer. As an Evertonian exiled in the south east during my formative years I had to do with wet Wednesday nights watching Lawrie Sanchez scuff his way around Selhurst Park, as 5 Dons fans, and me and my dad – watched in silence. My average month saw a maximum of two games at Goodison, and most of my time was spent down south , feeling strangely incarcerated in huge empty places like Selhurst, or the New Den, occasionally though I’d get to go to Highbury, these are the reasons why – unlike Scott – I’ll always have a bit of a soft spot for Arsenal.
1. Highbury, a great old stadium, and more specifically the East Upper, a great place for a shy non-Arsenal fan to sit with ridiculously amiable Gooners. As a ten year old I was once outed as a Toffee by my capricious mate in the East Upper, and no-one cared. A woman turned round and said she always liked Everton anyway, a huddle of others nodded in agreement and smiled at me.
2. Two of the famed Arsenal back 4 – Tony Adams, a wonderful facially challenged defender whose greatest achievement in my eyes will always be the fact that he dated Caprice(!) – I liked Winterburn too (always huffing and puffing his cheeks).
3. They were even charitable enough to incorporate “less talented” players — John Jensen for instance — in their team.
4. Everton’s relationship with Arsenal is one of thrashings , but good hearted ones — Ian Wright used to score for fun against us, and we rarely beat them home or away. They won the title against us but that is made up for by….
5. That goal, sent arching over the sky like a vandal’s brick, shattering Arsenal’s defence, from the petulantly skillful Rooney.
6. Arsene’s instant appraisal of Rooneys brilliance.
7. We took Limpar off them, they took Ball off us, sharing their fantastic wealth. We only got a small peek of Anders but he was some player, and he dived us all the way to last-game-of-the-season safety.
8. Even the Franny Jeffers transfer is balanced out by us buying Dickie “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em” Wright of them.
9.Gunnersaurus – All Evertonians appreciate a good mascot as we have had to deal with the Toffe-girl , spraying toffee treats to the front rows (her throwing is crap).
10. A shared appreciation of good keepers. They had Seaman – we had Southall (ours was better though, both in terms of ‘tache & keeping).