During the course of this season, I’ve tried to improve my knowledge of Arsenal to the point where it matches my love of Arsenal, but even on the last day of the season, I learned a number of things I didn’t know before.
In the morning we got up relatively late and had a quick breakfast. Given the proximity of the DLR to our hotel in Tower Hill we decided to go to the Docklands. We had made several attempts to spend time there in a previous trip but got so engrossed by the things to do in Greenwich that we didn’t quite make it all the places we wanted to go. We had the Rick Steves guidebook that included a walk in the Docklands from the South Quay station over to the Museum of London Docklands and ending at the West India Quay station. So we got off at South Quay station and began walking along and over the footbridge.
When we passed the Hilton Canary Wharf, my husband suggested that I take a picture of it. He told me the story of how Tottenham came close to achieving a Champions League spot in 2006 but they had to win on the last day against West Ham to guarantee it. Unfortunately, they’d stayed in a Canary Wharf hotel and been served allegedly bad lasagne the night before the match. With players unavailable and playing while unwell, they’d lost the match.
I let my mind rest on how great it would be if Tottenham lost their last match this year, being played at exactly the same time our Arsenal match against Aston Villa was to be played. I duly took the photo of the Hilton, hoping it would be bad luck for Tottenham.
As you might remember, Arsenal were sitting in 3rd place, but could finish as high as 2nd place or as low as 4th based on how things went today. (In my post last week I said it could be as low as 5th, but Manchester United tightened up today’s scenario by losing to West Ham earlier this week.)
To finish in 2nd, we’d have to win and Tottenham would have to lose. And there was one other possible scenario: Tottenham could tie and we’d have to win by something like 17 goals.
Now, on the last day both Arsenal and Tottenham were playing teams that were in the bottom three and had already been relegated, so both of us had a decent chance of winning. Still, anything can happen to Arsenal. And Tottenham had been having their best Premier League season ever. In fact, Tottenham was well-positioned to finish above Arsenal for the first time in 21 years.
Arsenal fans have celebrated something called St. Totteringham’s Day for 20 unbroken years. St. Totteringham’s Day is the day of the season that the number of points Tottenham has and the number of points available can no longer amount to Tottenham finishing higher than Arsenal. A silly, made-up day, but when you win the “4th place trophy” almost every year, you need something to lift your spirits. Being better than Tottenham is what we have, lame as that may be.
Looking at the ire of Arsenal fans this year, we are sad for not winning the Premier League in this very winnable year, but it’s clear that some fans were in mourning that there was to be no St. Totteringham’s Day this year, either.
So this Bad Lasagne affair that I was hearing about for the first time on the day of the match really captured my imagination: What if? What if?
As we crossed the bridge, my husband started wondering aloud about which had been the Lasagne hotel. Was it the Hilton Canary Wharf we’d just seen or was it the Marriott? We were nearing the end of the bridge when we saw some guys in what we thought were West Ham shirts. He said, “I’m going to ask them which hotel it was.”
He was heading in their direction but then he got uncharacteristically flustered. “Take their picture,” he muttered, just as I registered that they were wearing Aston Villa shirts. I was slow on the draw and got a badly exposed photo of their backsides in the distance. The photo was badly exposed. Their backsides were well-covered.
“Those were Aston Villa players,” he hissed.
“They didn’t look like players to me,” I retorted. I thought to myself that the Aston Villa fans probably think that every week, looking at that crap team take the field.
Then I realized that I’d committed the most deadly fan sin of them all, looking past the opponent. On the one hand, you get a bonus photo of the Bad Lasagne hotel and on the other you get docked for overconfidence. Both an Arsenal and Tottenham loss?
We spent some time at the Museum of London Docklands, but our hearts weren’t in it. I enjoyed looking at the historic building it was in, the floors and beams and such, but the exhibit was big and we didn’t have much time. Also, it was a glorious day to be outside.
Just to be safe, I took a photo of the Marriott when we walked past it. I also took a photo of it from the bridge as we waited at West India Quay station.
We had a quick picnic lunch back in Tower Hill at the Trinity Square park looking across at the Tower of London.
It was time to head to the Emirates and see how the day was to play out.