As a football fan, one is dedicated to the club that he pledges to. Mine is Arsenal Football Club and has been that way for 19 years now. Compared that to what Chelsea fans have witness, I’ve only ever had 3 managers in my years of supporting this great club. I feel very privileged indeed.
As a foreign fan, I don’t have the luxury of going to the stadium each week or follow the team for away trips. I’ve had my fix of Arsenal in person, twice in fact. First in 1999 when Arsene Wenger brought his team to my Malaysian shores. Then again last year when they again stopped by here for a pre season friendly.
I missed out on being inside of Highbury when it was still our stadium. The class of the place never ceased to amaze me even if I was only able to view it on television. There’s so many memories there and it’ll be my one lasting regret. Though I can’t really be faulted as I only started working when we left Highbury and my parents are not the wealthiest kind to send me for such excursions.
I’m writing this at the airport waiting for my flight to London. Yes, I’m finally doing my pilgrimage to what has become my religion, Arsenal. I detest missing on matches and my schedules are planned around their fixtures. Visiting them for the first time and watching them play in front of my eyes for a competitive match is a dream come true. It feels like going home.
It is always hard to plan for such trips, coming from where I am. Flights take half a day and the trip can be really expensive. Cheaper flight tickets can be bought from a year ahead but that is not possible for my case as I wouldn’t know how the fixture looks like. This time I was adamant. I was waiting for the Champions League game to be drawn. December 2011 was when I was seriously contemplating going to Arsenal.
It wasn’t easy. I wanted to experience a Premier League match and a Champions League match. Having drawn AC Milan, I knew this was my chance, an opportunity to see another great club in action. Was there another home league game before/after the Milan one? Yes, there is. Newcastle are the visitor and it was time to plan for the trip.
I guess I was just lucky. The usual flights are the low cost ones which are not really worth it. Seeing as the sales office for the Emirates is nearby my office, I decided to drop by. There’s a promotional offer and the price is similar to one from the low cost airline. It’s as if the stars aligned to make this work. It was decided there and then, flight ticket was purchased. I couldn’t believe I just did that.
Travelling alone to London for your first ever visit to the British Isle can be daunting. I’m grateful to the group of people whom I met on the social network twitter. Based on their advise and encouragement, it made all the planning a little easier. The next task was simply to get my hand on the match tickets.
I know there’s a twitter account which helps to resell tickets that are not going to be used. However, these are only usually available a day or two before the match day. Coming from such a distance, it was not a risk that I wanted to take. Thanks to Will Seabrook, I was recommended the best way to purchase tickets, by becoming a red member.
It was an easy decision to be made if I’m being honest. I was already paying RM30 a month as subscription fee for the Arsenal Player service. Becoming a red member only cost half of that amount. Plus I can still continue having access to the Player via that subscription and on top of that, have the privilege to purchase match tickets.
Buying tickets online is a real joy and an easy thing to do. Log in and you can select the area you want. It is important to note when the sales open for red members as you don’t want to be late and find that the tickets are sold out. One can also see the view of the block that you purchased, just in case you have preference. I went for the upper tier because I wanted to see how the game develops.
Things are in motion as you read this. I’m finishing this piece in Dubai airport. Halfway mark of the journey. The sun is only just rising as I await the connecting flight. A dream come true and I’m smacking myself to believe that I’m already halfway there. Although to be fair, knowing I’m going to the Milan game and then seeing us thrashed 4-0 was not fun.
See you on the other side.