When Fulham away was announced for the Bank Holiday weekend in August, we were over the moon. Then came the wait, and wait, and wait, for the live TV fixtures to be revealed. Thanks to BT Sport, our plans were thrown sideways - what with the match being broadcast at 12.45pm on the Saturday. Apart from Monday night, this was the worst possible outcome! But we ploughed on with our plans to hold a big party for Gooners, on the Thames.
So following a lot of dialogue as to how we should play it, discussions with the boat hire company, and agreement on what we'd do, we announced it to our members. BSM on the Thames was happening!
Unfortunately the original plan of docking at Putney wasn't possible due to the early kick-off. Tide levels at that time of day meant the larger party boats on the Thames could not dock there - only the smaller 'river bus' style vessels could do that. Our party was designed to be a party, not a bus service - we wanted a big boat to cater for all our guests, so even with that spanner thrown into the works, on we ploughed!
Gauging the responses from people up for our party, we felt that attendance at the afternoon's match was secondary; the main event was getting people together for a good old-fashioned booze cruise on the river. Arsenal fans together, some quality music, a cracking sing-song and a great time. So following the promotion work, online bookings and loads of chat looking forward to it, the day finally arrived. And so did the poxy rain! Spanner after spanner thrown at us, but fuck it - we're The Arsenal and we keep on.
8am on a dreary Saturday morning, Gooners started to arrive at Temple Pier in central London; a fair few tired but expectant faces, looking forward to what was about to happen. Those of us who'd arranged the party boarded the boat to get it all set up and ready to go. We'd chosen what we felt was the right boat for this event; Large enough to hold a lot of partygoers? Check. More than one bar to cater for thirsty Gooners? Check. Good sound system to pump out the tunes? Check. Large outside deck so our guests could soak up that late summer sun? Check... well, we can't control the weather, right? Overall we felt we'd chosen a great vessel for our party - it was one of the largest party boats on the Thames, it ticked all the right boxes, so we were more than happy with the choice we'd made.
9am, and it was time to go. The Captain got us moving and the tunes kicked in. What followed was three hours of top, top quality partying, Arsenal style. The music on board was chosen specifically for the crowd with a mixture of old school R&B, hip-hop, house, you name it. And of course any Arsenal party wouldn't be complete without the old classics such as The Laughing Gooner, and tunes aplenty from our favourites The Riders of the Night. EYES RIGHT!
I personally got to meet so many people on the day, it was like a whirlwind of handshakes, great chat, drinking and having a real good laugh. The comments we received all day long were superb, too - and if I had a quid for every time I got asked when we were doing it again, I'd have enough to afford a round of beers at Emirates!
As the party entered the final stretch, the mood on board was as upbeat as you can get. It reminded you of just how great it is to support this amazing old club of ours, and how when we're together as fans there's nothing better.
As a lot of Gooners left the boat and made their way to Craven Cottage, there were around 100 of us who were ready to carry on elsewhere, as we'd made alternative arrangements for fans to see the game in a nearby pub.
After ensuring everyone had made it off the boat, it was onwards to the boozer... and that's when the heavens opened. As we walked across Westminster Bridge singing all manner of Arsenal tunes, the rains came down but our spirits couldn't be dampened.
To top it all off, the boys on the pitch put in a superb performance and secured the three points, which just made the whole day even sweeter.
My memory from the latter part of the day isn't too great; I can't remember how I got home but I made it back somehow. Completely drenched thanks to loads more rain later that evening but by that point I didn't care. I'd had one of the best days in all my years of supporting The Arsenal. I'd spent it with friends old and new, having a drink, a sing-song and celebrating the fact we're Arsenal. Fuck all the rest.
Up The Gunners