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Bergkamp Testimonial – Arsenal V Ajax

A fitting game for the first match at The Emirates Stadium, graced by some of the world’s greatest footballers. Today the Emirates received its first real test, 50,000 fans – it passed with flying colours.

A fairly lacklustre 1st half saw Ajax take the lead on 35 minutes, with the Ajax No.9 slip the ball past a stranded Poom. Some poor defending by the reserve side saw a cross whipped into an empty box and Huntelaar side foot the ball into the net. The only other activity prior to this was the inaugural Mexican Wave, snaking its way round the stadium after about 5 minutes. Arsenal were lucky not to go in at half time 3 or 4 down, Trarore was caught out of position a number of times and with Larsson sleeping in the midfield putting Poom under unnecessary pressure and was forced to handle outside the box luckily the ref was on Arsenals side for once. Poom produced a great save on the stroke of half time  from a powerful shot from Ryan  Babel.

The second half was played at a more sedentary pace as we saw the introduction of the Ajax and Arsenal legends. The introductions went on for about 15 minutes,with Bob Wilson acting as compere. the biggest cheers were reserved for Viera, Henry and Ian Wright, with the chants echoing round the new stadium, clearly an extra 20,000 supporters made the noise greater than anything heard at Highbury. The scum had a single representative in Davids and on 75 minutes he beat the aging defence’s offside trap, got passed Seamen, and with an empty net threatened to spoil the party. Grimandi to the rescue, saw a sliding tackle from behind scythe down Davids and earn a penalty, Ronald de Boer dutifully obliged by blasting the ball over the bar. With 2 minutes of play left, and after a plethora of Bergkamp opportunities, it was left to Kanu to win the game for us, a powerful shot, took a wicked deflection and crept into the left corner of the Ajax net, passed the hapless Menzo.

The football was almost the side show at this event, with the stadium taking centre stage, chants started up and died out as the crowd tried to find its voice in these strange surroundings. The stadium, whilst truly impressive, is cut in 2 by a set of club level and executive box supporters, who perhaps aren’t there to cheer as loudly as the old die hards? a little of the Highbury intimacy has gone forever in this commercially driven corporate environment. Lets see how the atmosphere develops when the Premiership kicks of for real in a few weeks.

Despite, what appeared to be vast open spaces on Tuesday afternoon, come match day the public spaces soon filled, the vendors did a roaring trade and the toilets, could barely cope with the half time rush, not a great sign for the future!

It was great to witness Dennis christen this new chapter in Arsenal’s history and I look forward to supporting the gunners for another 35 years in their new home.


July 22, 2006 - Posted by | Matches


  1. some nice pics, you should get ‘flickr’ check out the right hand side of my page now. clcik the link to go onto my account and sign up for it by going to the homepage or summin

    Comment by lasagnechef | July 24, 2006 | Reply

  2. Agree totally with your synopsis, however the bagel pricing of 4.50 was terrible… The food didn’t even taste good. Sounds like we will have to rename the stadium cAshburton Grove unless they sort the food choice and prices about. Next time I am smuggling in my bagel from the local m&s.

    Comment by Gooner | July 24, 2006 | Reply

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