This week has been a strange one, to put it lightly. While most of the initial chaos has started to finally de-escalate, we are all still left to deal with a very different existence in the wake of COVID-19. Schools are closed for the foreseeable future, people are socially isolating, and many, many people are left in a nebulous void of uncertainty. Wherever you may find yourself, we hope that you are navigating this trying time as well as possible.
My wife and I are teachers, so we were already scheduled to have spring break this week, which has meant that we haven’t really felt the impact of all of this yet. On top of that, we are in the process of moving out of our old house and into a new one and our lives have been consumed with packing, cleaning, sorting, and running through the whole Mari Kondo purge of excess clutter. In a way, it’s been a nice respite from the sobering reality of the world around of us. In a different way, it sucks, because moving is a pain and I hate it.
According to my wife, I am a “pack rat” who “hoards” items and “doesn’t know how to let go of things.” I prefer to think that I am sentimental, nostalgic to a fault. I hold on to all sorts of memorabilia - old Christmas cards, flyers for shows my old bands played, tickets to sporting events, etc. I may or may not have a duffel bag with no less than 100 shirts of different bands I’ve seen. I think you get the picture. But those relics tend to sit in boxes in the closet, only to be unearthed once we move or do some spring cleaning.
While we were packing today, I was purging my closet of non-essentials and stumbled upon a number of cool old collectables that took me down the long and winding trip down memory lane. Among the piles, however, emerged one of those things that I had all but forgotten about - two copies of the match-day programs from the first Arsenal match I had attended.
I’m not sure what surprised me most - that I still had two programs, or that they were both in pristine condition. Match programs are always entertaining time capsules, but what makes these unique is that they are from Arsenal’s Invincibles season. I was a regular Arsenal neophyte at the time, but watching that Boxing Day match at Highbury next to my dad planted a seed of fandom that has blossomed into something that, on a good day, gives me an exuberant sense of pride, and on others, crippling grief. But, like all of you, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Look at this roster, folks. Just look at it. How did we ever get so lucky?
Not pictured, but still very much intact, is the foldout Thierry Henry poster insert which will more than likely be framed and mounted in my new office. Please don’t tell my wife.
Among my other neat artifacts from sports are:
- A copy of the Washington Post from when Cal Ripken Jr. broke the consecutive game record (he was and still is my favorite baseball player of all time).
- All of the home tickets from FSU’s 2013 national championship winning football season.
- Every magazine, newspaper, and publication related to said championship.
- An autographed miniature MLS match ball signed by the 1997 DC United squad.
- A Pizza Hut promotional Ken Griffey Jr. foam baseball bat (a very 90s collectable).
- BONUS! My wife dug up a Mariners A-Rod shirt that she got as a kid as a game-day promotion.
So, what unique Arsenal/sports artifacts do you have among your possessions? Are you one of the few out there to have caught a homerun at a game? Maybe you have a rare trading card somewhere encapsulated in a rigid plastic card case deep in a drawer somewhere? A ticket stub from a particularly important or memorable sporting event, perhaps? Whatever it is, share your coolest, most interesting, and weirdest down below as we try to remember a more sports-filled time.
Be safe out there.