An international week brings an opportunity to start planning ahead. Christmas was always going to be a tricky operation this year given the fixture computers warped sense of humour. Tottenham at the Grove on the Saturday before Christmas, I ask you!
I know it is our turn to travel north and visit the grandholics. Careful negotiations are entered into with the grandmother of the grandholics. One false move and I could be in serious danger. It is a close call.
“We are going up there on the Sunday so I can help with the preparations. Why do you ask?”
“No reason my little sunflower.”
“You aren’t going to football on the Saturday, are you?” That is not so much a question as a royal proclamation!
“It’s Tottenham my precious.”
A short uneasy silence indicates that the message has got home. She understands even if she is not entirely happy about the situation.
A brief interlude is required before I deliver the killer blow. “You know Dad is coming up for the new year?”
“Yes, of course.”
I should put the next part of this conversation into context. During the final season at Highbury I brought my father up from Devon to see the Charlton game. He was born in Islington in 1922 and had followed the Gunners from the Chapman era. Obviously when I came along he ensured I lived and breathed Arsenal. I took what I thought was the last opportunity I would have to pay him back for all those hundreds of games he took me to, or funded, in my youth.
At eighty-three it was an emotional day for him, but also a very draining one. He was that exhausted when we finally got back I made a mental note not to attempt a repeat when the move to the Grove was complete.
I had reckoned without him getting ‘second wind’ now he is eighty-five! When we invited him up for new year he asked if I was going to the West Ham game on new years day, “only I haven’t seen the new ground yet son!”
Emotional blackmail was a guaranteed winner for him. By hook or by crook I will have two tickets for the visit of the Hammers, but one difficult hurdle remains.
“I’m taking Dad to the Grove on New Years Day.”
When the grandmother of the grandholics is talking to me again I will update you on my progress.
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