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All Guns Blazing: A salute to Arsenal's away support as Old Trafford beckons

PUBLISHED: 11:00 13 May 2015 | UPDATED: 11:00 13 May 2015

Alan Sunderland (l) scores the first goal of the game for Arsenal against Swansea on New Year's Day 1983. Picture: PA

Alan Sunderland (l) scores the first goal of the game for Arsenal against Swansea on New Year's Day 1983. Picture: PA

PA Archive/Press Association Images

In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Layth Yousif remembers his first ever Arsenal match and looks ahead to Sunday’s Manchester United match.

The ever-excellent official match programme against Swansea City on Monday featured the game between Arsenal and the Swans from New Year’s Day 1983. The significance? My first-ever Arsenal match. I can still recall marvelling at the skill, technique and vision of Vladimir Petrovic as he orchestrated a 2-1 victory.

The 1982/83 season marked the slide of the Welsh club down the divisions - only to reach rock bottom when they needed a win on the last day of the season to avoid falling into non-league football.

How times change.

As the idiotic Wenger-out vitriol started up again after our frustrating 1-0 loss against the Welsh Premier League side, it’s worth remembering that distant victory over Swansea in 1983 moved us two places up the table.

From 14th to 12th. In front of a crowd of 25,000.

So, before anyone moans about an FA Cup appearance and a probable finish of third instead of second being a poor season and calling for the manager’s head – who incidentally secured an 18th season in a row in the promised land of the Champions League – I’d ask to you to remember what following Arsenal used to be like in those depressing days after our three FA Cup Final appearances on the trot ended in 1980.

If you’re too young to remember, buy Monday night’s match programme and read about it.

And while you’re at it say a silent prayer you don’t follow that lot from N17 who endured their 20th St Totteringham’s Day in a row.

How times change indeed.

***

I’m off to Old Trafford again on Sunday. I’m not looking forward to navigating the huge parking lot that is Salford Quays – or the M6 for that matter. Nor am I happy in seeing so many tourists in half-and-half scarves who’ve never heard of Bryan Robson let alone Duncan Edwards.

But what I’m looking forward to is being in the middle of our superb away support which never gets the credit it deserves for its unstinting loyalty.

Before my kids came along I spent two decades following our club around the county and Europe to every away game – so I know the sacrifices our fans make to get to games nowadays.

Factor-in high ticket prices and Network Rail, and it’s a wonder fans make away games at all – but they do in their hordes.

As this is my last column of the season I salute you all. See you at Old Trafford – and Wembley.

Follow Layth @laythy29

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