Arsenal v Stoke City

‘You must meet my friend,’ I am always being told. ‘He’s a big Arsenal fan.’ And I meet the friend, and it turns out that, at best, he looks up the Arsenal score in the paper on Sunday morning or, at worst, he is unable to name a single player since Denis Compton. None of these blind dates ever worked; I was too demanding, and my partners simply weren’t interested in commitment.

So I wasn’t really expecting very much when I was introduced to Pete in the Seven Sisters Road before the Stoke game; but it was a perfect, life-changing match. He was (and still is) as stupid as I am about it all – he has the same ludicrous memory, the same propensity to allow his life to be dominated for nine months of the year by fixture lists and TV schedules. He is gripped by the same stomach-fizzing fear before the big games, and the same dreadful glooms after bad defeats. Interestingly, I think he has had the same tendency to let his life drift along a little, the same confusions about what he wants to do with it, and I think that, like me, he has allowed Arsenal to fill gaps that should have been occupied by something else, but then we all do that.”

Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch