It was the usual Sunday afternoons where soccer fans gather at any pub around the country to watch their respective clubs (referring to the English clubs) play each other for the day’s fixtures. This past Sunday (31 January, 2010) was unique in may ways: Ghana was playing Egypt in the final of the 27th edition of the African Cup of Nations. At the same time, English club Arsenal was also playing host to rivals Manchester United. It was a crunch match and highly anticipated one.
I headed off to a pub owned by Reggie Rockston, one of Ghana’s finest rappers. His pub, The Office, is well known in the capital, Accra. Especially for those night revellers it’s a place for perfect hangout. It was my first time of being there. It was not as big as I had envisaged but was great atmosphere. It had three giant screens stashed on the walls, providing football fans a great viewing opportunity.
Soccer fans mostly dressed in Ghana colours were present. The whole atmosphere was filled with smoke from cigarettes from some of the soccer fans. Accra based Joy Fm was also providing live feeds from there. In the middle of the noise and the smoke, the sports team of Joy provided in-between analysis of what was happening.
I was dressed in full Arsenal t-shirt with my name written boldly at the back. I was one of two guys dressed in Arsenal t-shirt and we were confident the club was going to win the game. So here I was watching the final between Ghana and Egypt and still keeping taps on the outcome of the game between Arsenal and Manchester United. I was confident Arsenal was going to win because the last time we met them in their own back yard, we were cheated. So I was confident Emirates will be Manchester United’s waterloo.
However after playing for about 35 or so minutes, a gentleman holding a mobile phone and monitoring the scores via the internet began to mentioned the score. “Man U is up by a goal,” he said to a loud applause and claps. I was surprised but not down. I was confident Arsenal was going to bounce back, equalise and then win the game.
He then came out with another goal for Manchester United. At this time I was devastated. I refused to follow the game any further and instead concentrated on the Ghana-Egypt game. Things were going pretty well, at least for Ghana. Though I was watching the finals, my mind was on the Arsenal and Man. United game.
Ghana lost after 85 minutes. I must confess though I didn’t support them, I was impressed by their performance. But not that of Arsenal. Later in the evening, I headed out to ‘The Honeysuckle, a pub and restaurant owned by some British expats. The atmosphere inside the bar was heavily laced with cigarette. I sat there and had a bottle of mini-star.
After few minutes of settling down to have my drink, the match between Arsenal and Man. United was played back. It was really heartbreaking to watch the game, though I made very conscious efforts not to watch the game, but I couldn’t. Here I was sitting there and watching the game. The goals then began to pour in. Arsenal played as if there was nothing at stake. I felt bad and heartbroken.
The Arsenal that had so much recovered from a game after losing out to Chelsea in November at the same Emirates had been induced. I was heartbroken as I made my way out of the bar to catch a taxi home. I still love Arsenal despite the loss but I think it’s important for the coach, Arsene Wenger, to change his youthful policy.
Five years without a trophy? That is too much for a club of Arsenal’s quality.
Time for the guns to blaze especially against Chelsea this weekend. Are we to let that also slip through our fingers?
Goooooooners wake up!