Valentines' Day Football

I have an app on my phone called Futbology. It's a brilliant tool for tracking every game you've ever been too, and even allows you to check-in to nearby matches that you may be attending. 

One of it's features that is particularly useful is the 'on this day' section, which, as the name implies, tells you what games you were at over the years. Today being Valentines' Day, reminded me of two fixtures from over the years. One that I went too, and one that I didn't.

19 years ago, I was at Highbury watching an all-star Arsenal cast dismantle Crystal Palace. Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry to name but a few put five past Iain Dowie's men in what was more like a massacre than a love story. It was however, an opportunity to watch my first love, Arsenal, at my favourite place, Highbury. 

Eleven years after that game, Arsenal were once again scheduled for a Valentines' Day fixture, this time for the visit of title-chasing Leicester City. Arsenal were well in the race at that time, and were only one of two sides to have beaten the Foxes that season. Just three weeks before the proposed fixture, the genius' at Sky decided they wanted it on the Sunday, and so the game was moved to the most romantic date in the calendar. As a pre-arranged plan for that day, I was due to go white-water rafting at Lee Valley followed by afternoon tea. A desperate attempt to save a failing relationship. 

Any Arsenal fan is likely to be able to tell you what I missed at the Emirates that day. Yep, that's right, Danny Welbeck scoring with the final touch of the game. Arsenal being propelled back into the title race. A now or never moment from Welbeck as the commentator so eloquently described. Meanwhile, I was stuck in a kayak in freezing cold water regretting my life decisions. 

Make no mistake, this was and is one of the single worst decisions I have made in my adult life. I have never allowed myself to be forgiven for it. I ended the afternoon staring at my phone whilst consuming a French Fancie.

There are things that I would sacrifice a day at the football for. But for a commercialised day that in truth isn't any different than any other day? Never again.