By Tony Attwood
I guess most of us have Arsenal moments that we always remember, maybe several jostling for position at the top of the list of our “most memorable” listen. But for myself, for the last 16 years there has only been one. This day in 2004, the last day of the unbeaten season.
Sitting in the east upper I still remember the shock of going one down to Leicester – a team already relegated, Arsenal of course easily champions and thus far unbeaten. One match to go against a relegated team and we were 0-1 down at half time. It was hardly credible.
I’d love to know what happened in the dressing room at half time. Was it a stunned silence? Argument? Everyone waiting for the boss to speak? I’ve no idea.
But of course it all came good, and the teams did their normal thing at the end of the slow lap of honour – and Mr Wenger being given the most fulsome applause and cheers ever.
I also remember the drive out of London – I was heading from the game to South Wales, so a very slow and tedious trip around the North Circular was required. The whole of the north and north west of London seemed to be on the streets – and indeed in the street. Progress was indeed extraordinarily slow.
And the next day, of course, the newspapers couldn’t handle it. It wasn’t really an unbeaten season of course because we’d not won the cups. We weren’t the first of course because Preston had done it. We weren’t really that good. And so on and on.
It was ever thus, but we did do it, and I was there, and I won’t ever forget.
Here are the anniversaries…
15 May 1916: The hated “entertainment tax” was introduced to help pay for the war, the tax raising the cost of entry to football matches by between 50% and 100%. It was supposed to be withdrawn at the end of the war, but remained until replaced by VAT in 1973.
15 May 1926: SK Slavia Ips Praha (Prague) 1 Arsenal 5 (Buchan, Brain 2, Ramsey, Lee). For the second consecutive season Arsenal went on a European tour.
15 May 1971: John Roberts made his international début. He only made 56 league starts for Arsenal, but 18 of those were in the first Double season.
15 May 1979: Arsenal played their one post-season friendly against Lyngby Boldklub of Denmark. Macdonald once again played but was substituted, as Arsenal won 4-2. Gatting, Brady, Price and Rix scored.
15 May 1990: David Seaman purchased from QPR for a record fee. He went on to play 405 league games for Arsenal and continued playing until 2004.
15 May 1993: The single “Shouting for the gunners” entered the hit parade. Remaining copies are not thought to get a high price on the antiques market.
15 May 2004: Arguably the greatest moment in the history of Arsenal. Arsenal 2 Leicester 1. The season was unbeaten. See also the chronology To their credit Leicester fans stayed to congratulate Arsenal as the team toured the pitch. Dickov gave Leicester the lead, Henry scored a penalty on 47 minutes, Vieira got the winner on 66 mins. Arsenal were 30 points ahead of Liverpool in fourth place.
15 May 2016: Arsenal sat third and Tottenham second in the league ahead of the final day’s games, with Tottenham needing just one point (at relegated Newcastle) to secure second and end above Arsenal for the first time since 1995. Despite Newcastle having a man sent off, Tottenham lost 1-5, while Arsenal beat Villa 4-0 to secure second place, and achieve one of the most unlikely St Totteringham’s Day victories ever.
15 May 2018: The BBC ran the headline “Colin Lewin: Arsenal head of medical services loses job after 23 years at Gunners” Subsequent reports showed that Colin Lewin had resigned and set up a clinic with his cousin Gary also a physio. No apology from the BBC for this mis-reporting was ever noted.