Having partially lost his eyesight in the mid-80’s, my father initially stopped going to watch Arsenal play football. However, he subsequently discovered the club’s excellent provision for blind and visually impaired fans and managed to continue to be a regular fan and still goes to this day, his enjoyment of the game being retained through the help of various volunteers who commentate for him and others every week.
When I started sitting with him around 1992, I would be often be called into action to help describe something to him. On occasions, I ended up commentating on the game myself. At first, I found it extremely hard (and not a little embarrassing!) but as with many things, I quickly got used to it. For some time, I provided the official commentary for the blind and visually impaired fans.
During the 2002/2003 season, one of my friends suggested that I record the audio of my commentaries and put clips of the goals on the internet. So for some of that season, the whole of 2003/2004 and some of 2004/2005, I used a clip-on microphone to record my commentary of every game and edited the recordings down to just the goals.
They’re not all great pieces of lyrical commentary and most of them end the same way – with me screaming like an idiot – but they serve as a great memory of a fantastic Arsenal team as well as being more than a little amusing.
Saturday, 15th February 2003 – F.A. Cup 5th Round
Manchester United 0 Arsenal 2
One of my favourite ever away trips with Arsenal.
The day that Alex Ferguson hit David Beckham in the head with a boot, Edu scored with a deflected free kick, Sylvain Wiltord scored a superb 2nd and Ryan Giggs missed from the edge of the penalty area with the goal gaping, David Seaman having long since disappeared from his post.
Saturday, 16th August 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 2 Everton 1
The opening day of the new season and we started badly, Sol Campbell having been sent off early on. But a penalty from Thierry Henry and a goal from Pires was enough to win 2-1.
Wednesday, 27th August 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 2 Aston Villa 0
A Sol Campbell header from a corner and a last minute goal from Thierry Henry gave us a fairly comfortable win at home to Villa to maintain our 100% record.
Friday, 26th September 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 3 Newcastle United 2
A week after the fantastic scenes at Old Trafford when Martin Keown explained to Ruud van Nistelrooy that he was quite pleased that he’d missed his late penalty, we just about defeated Newcastle at home. Twice, they levelled the scores but we eventually ran out winners.
Saturday, 18th October 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1
This game will forever be remembered for the winning goal – gifted to Thierry Henry by Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, who dropped an easy one allowing Henry to tap into the empty net. Lovely stuff.
Wednesday, 5th November 2003 – Champions League
Arsenal 1 Dynamo Kiev 0
We really struggled in this game, just as we had done in the whole group. In the last minute, the ball was floated into the penalty area and (as you will hear) I was convinced that Henry was being held. It didn’t matter though, as Ashley Cole headed in to send us wild.
Saturday, 8th November 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
We limped past Spurs after Anderton had put them into the lead. Pires scored the equaliser and a deflected Freddie Ljungberg shot nabbed the points.
Tuesday, 2nd December 2003 – League Cup
Arsenal 5 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
A very straight forward win against Wolves which will always be remembered for Cesc Fabregas’ first ever goal for Arsenal. But it also featured a brilliant solo effort from Jeremie Aliadiere.
Wednesday, 10th December 2003 – Champions League
Arsenal 2 Lokomotiv Moscow 0
A straight forward home win to give us a good chance in the group.
Saturday, 10th January 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 4 Middlesborough 1
A brilliant performance at home, featuring Freddie Ljungberg’s 50th goal for Arsenal.
Saturday, 1st February 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 2 Manchester City 1
A Tarnat own goal and an incredible goal from Thierry Henry sealed the points.
Tuesday, 10th February 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 2 Southampton 0
Another two goals – his 100th and 101st – for Thierry Henry as we cruised past Southampton.
Saturday, 15th February 2003 – FA Cup
Arsenal 2 Chelsea 1
Jose Antonio Reyes. He didn’t last that long in England but his impact was huge. His first goal for the club was scored in front of the North Bank in this game and I will never forget it. An absolute rocket from outside the area, it deserved to win this excellent cup tie.
Saturday, 16th April 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 5 Leeds 0
A brilliant, and easy win over Leeds, with Thierry Henry scoring 4. This win, along with Chelsea’s failure to beat Newcastle, set up the day we won the title at White Hart Lane.
Saturday, 15th May 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 2 Leicester City 1
We’d long since won the league and still hadn’t been beaten. We just had to avoid defeat against lowly Leicester. However, we were losing 1-0 at half time thanks to a Paul Dickov goal. I can still remember the feeling that day, of thinking we might not do it after all. But then Thierry Henry scored a penalty (kissing the turf in front of the North Bank afterwards) and Patrick Vieira finished the job. An amazing achievement – unbeaten for the entire League season.
Saturday, 22nd August 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 5 Middlesborough 3
It was now time for Arsenal to try and beat the record for unbeaten games. We did it in the end, but this game came closest to ruining our chance. Middlesborough were 3-1 up at half time but 4 unanswered goals followed and the record was equalled. The most memorable one came, once again, from Reyes. After Pires had equalised, we simply stole the ball from the kick off, ran down the other end and scored again. As I say on the commentary “what an incredible team this is”.
Wednesday, 25th August 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 3 Blackburn Rovers 0
Record breakers! An easy home win featuring Cesc’s first league goal for the club.
Saturday, 11th September 2003 – Premier League
Fulham 0 Arsenal 3
A fun day out by the river as we thrashed Fulham in the sun.
Saturday, 18th September 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 2 Bolton Wanderers 2
Boring old Bolton did their usual job on us, stopping our 100% start to the season.
Saturday, 2nd October 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 4 Charlton Athletic 0
A very easy win which will always be remembered for Thierry Henry’s ridiculous backheeled goal through the legs of Jonathan Fortune.
Saturday, 16th October 2003 – Premier League
Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 1
The last game of the 49 game unbeaten run. We went 1-0 down but won 3-1 and then went on to lose 2-0 at Old Trafford the following week.
Tuesday, 16th February 2011 – Champions League
Arsenal 2 Barcelona 1
One of my most memorable nights of football, an Arsenal team which included Niklas Bendtner and Johann Djourou beat Barcelona when they were at their peak. Lionel Messi was kept largely quiet by a massive performance from Laurent Koscielny and a goal from a tight angle drew us level in the 2nd half. But the goal we’ll all remember for all time was the winner, on the break from Andre Arshavin. The noise in the stadium was incredible and proved too much for my iPod so the sound cuts out every time I scream. Beautiful.
Sunday, 26th February 2012 – Premier League
Arsenal 5 Tottenham Hotspur 2
The only goal I managed to record in a fantastic game in which we came from 2 down to win 5-2. After Bacary Sagna’s header had pulled one back, Robin van Persie turned on the edge of the area and curled one in to the left hand corner to level things up. What a day.