Friday, December 9

A Greek Oddity

By @buxtongooner

After a rather amusing day out in Wigan, where for once we didn’t throw away a lead, the four of us found ourselves at Manchester airport the following morning at sometime after five o’clock.

Myself, Jay and Darren are three exiled Gooners from London, and young Sam is a Buxton lad who, luckily for him, I have decided to adopt football-wise.

Things did not start to well. Sprung by the hotel maid whilst lounging on the double bed in a towel as my room mate (nameless) straightened his hair, followed not long after by the four of us falling for the oldest trick in the book. Yes, we followed a friendly local who we had chanced upon to The James Joyce Irish bar, only for him to invite us for a quick beer where he ‘worked’, just ‘round the corner’ from our destination.

Why not? What a helpful chap.

I’ll fucking tell you why not.

Three small beers, one mineral water, semi-naked eastern european women and 38 euros later, we made our excuses and left.

‘Fresh of the plane’, we were. I wouldn’t have minded but it must be the, oh, fifth or sixth time it’s happened to me. The BuxtonGooner never learns.

The James Joyce finally found, we settled in for some beers and watched the two mind numbing games that were on offer. A late night, then bed.

The following day, we trekked up a large hill and visited the Acropolis, as one does when in Athens. Impressive the Parthenon may have been in 432 BC, one can still sense the weight of history but cannot fail to notice that in reality it’s a bit shit these days. The newly constructed museum, however, if you ever find yourself in that part of the world and can be arsed, is rather pleasant.

A ramble around the centre of town led us predictably back to The James Joyce. Alan Whicker I may not be, a creature of habit I most definitely am.

Gooners were arriving and Gooners were a drinkin’. Danish, Austrian, Italian, Welsh, and even a few English ones. We watched the Liverpool game, got pissed, you know how it is, and laughed at the goalkeeping cock-up that gifted Fulham their winner. Karma, as well as two kebabs were around the corner.

We swerved back to the hotel via nightclubs that refused to let us in, the slightly insane Bulgarian Gooners, Bully, and cheap beer from a kiosk.

Matchday was finally upon us. We did some serious lurking, coffee sipping, enjoyed a fine Greek lunch to celebrate Jay’s birthday, some skulking and trolling, before predictably ending up at the same pub.

A TwitterStorm followed as we tried to get hold of a spare ticket (thanks to everyone who tried to help) and rounded up the thirty or so of us to leave together amid reports of mild slaps being dished earlier by groups of young Greeks with marvellous hair.

A Sing song on the Metro caused much mirth, and we skipped merrily to the ground to find that someone had had his phone nicked, someone else 40 euros and Jay had the two tickets he was holding swiped. Some excellent work by the lady from the Arsenal Travel Club (kiss kiss) left Sam and Darren in the away section and myself and Jay in the VIP section.

More excellent work from Jay, a bit from me and various stewards who frankly had no idea what we were going on about, and we eeked our way back into the away section. Miraculous.

The match? Well, um, you saw it. I thought, glaring howling mistakes apart, we did ok considering the youth in the team and the bear pit atmosphere of the Karaiskakis Stadium they had to put up with. Proper lairy.

We were through anyway as group winners, so we weren’t too bothered. Yeah, a win would have been nice, but it was far more amusing watching the locals sneak out after the news of late goals in Dortmund.

Back to you know where for a couple more drinks (5 euros a pop, I should add) and we were done.

An odd trip, on the whole, as it was utterly pointless in the end. Met some good people among the 550 Arsenal supporters that travelled, and I now await next Friday’s draw to see where I can get ripped off in a knocking shop next.

Can’t wait



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