Veteran's View - Sing up for the Arsenal!

By Samuel Mowbray

There was only one thing wrong the other night as our teenagers, with the sheer exuberance and innocent joy of youth, blunted hardened blades that the dour Home Secretary should have witnessed if she really wanted to stop knife crime.

Well, if you believe the figures (which none of us do - come on Arsenal give us the bums-on-seats number not the cash-in-club-coffers amount) there were 56, 632 things wrong.

Yes, the crowd. So, you, if you were there.

We were pathetic. As dour and leaden as Jacqui Smith.

This was one of the great nights in our Emirates history. The alchemist that is Arsène at the peak of his wizardry. Have you ever seen him smile - no, beam, shine - like he did on Tuesday?

And what did we proffer? "StandupifyouhateTottenham", "Byfarthegreatestteamintheworld" rubbish.

God - by far the youngest team in the world would have lent not just some staggering truth to the moment but some unknown wit and irony that seems to escape us.

NOT JUST DID WE WITNESS A TEAM WITH AN AVERAGE OF 19 BEAT A BUNCH OF RELATIVELY HARDENED PROS - WE SCORED SIX GOALS IN THE PROCESS.

DO YOU NOT REALISE HOW BLESSED WE ARE? HOW COULD ANYONE LEAVE A GAME LIKE THAT EARLY. NO NOT A GAME - A TEAM?

IT WAS SHAMEFUL. For anyone that left early on Tuesday, of all nights, it was, if you are a parent, like betraying your children.

I got dewey eyed. I saw ghosts. I saw John Hartson in Nicklas B. I saw John Matthews in Marc Randall. I saw Liam Brady twice!!! In Jack Wilshere and Aaaron Ramsey. And how does Arsene clone Gael C in Gibbs and Gallas in Djourou?

But that's not the point. We saw pure blissful football. Blissful. Professionals don't play like that.

And in Carlos Vela, we saw genius.

[Incidentally not the youngest hat-trick by an Arsenal player. That goes to the great John Radford who on January 2 1965 at the age of 17 years and 315 days scored 3 in a 4-1 win at Highbury versus Wolves. I wasn't there sadly but the fading cuttings from my scrapbook didn't herald him as they should have.

I have three - one from the Express ('This Scoreline Flatters Gunners/Young Radford Does the Damage'), the Telegraph ('Woeful Wolves Toppled By Eastham's Scheming') and the Sunday Times ('Arsenal boy wrecks Wolves Morale').

Strangely that 64/65 season was one when poor Billy Wright tried to bring through youth. Looking back (again in my scrapbook) to October 17, 1964, we beat Burnley 3-2 at Highbury with six teenagers and in the Daily Mail report, it says that nine of the squad of 14 who after the game went up North for training were teenagers. This is the crucible of the first double year: Armstrong, Radford, Storey, Sammels, Simpson were amongst those numbers.

I digress in the mists of time.

Vela was extraordinary. And not all the pundits picked him as man of the match. I have seen his goals now countless times and the second just brought me to exuberant joy - "I have thought about doing that quite a few times before but I never dared try it". He said.

Perhaps as a crowd we should dare to try a few more things out of sheer honour and respect not just for this team, but the first team and the wonderful afternoons and evenings that lie ahead.

If you weren't there on Tuesday, you missed something very very special. Enjoy it - but SHOW that enjoyment.