On the way to Arsenal - no that's a lie, it was earlier in the day when I was swimming at Kentish Town Baths, now much improved since the changing rooms have been done, no longer a health hazard - I met an old friend, Glyn Owen, the actor. Very big at one time in a TV series called The Brothers.
"Do you know three football teams with rude words inside them?" he asked as we rested at the deep end. Glyn is not a football fan, so it was bound to be something silly or obscene. "Arse-enal," he said, "Scunthorpe and ManFuckingUnited."
Yes, very childish, but it's based on a truth - that the half of the country who don't follow Manchester United hate them. I don't, being sensible, fair, calm, unprejudiced, why else would I be so delighted to get my half-season ticket back for Arsenal? It's good football I want to see, not just my team winning.
I felt almost like an Arsenal fan as I approached Highbury for the Euro home game against Ajax - apprehensive. Deep down, I feel that Man Utd are still better than Arsenal when it comes to Europe. Despite all their brilliant Premiership displays, and so often these days getting the better of Man Utd, they still don't seem to have sussed out Europe, how you plan it, how you play it. Most of Arsenal's players must remember their dreadful Euro displays at Wembley two seasons ago. If I were Fergie, really wanting to wind up Wenger, I would be wondering aloud about Arsenal, saying how sad that such an excellent team has never had much luck in Europe, hee hee. Man U were very fortunate at home against Juventus, but probably believe they deserved it.
Around me in the west stand, the Arsenal crowd were urging on Paddy, then they shouted for Bobby. I thought, heh up, have they signed some new players while I was away? I checked my programme, still only £2.50 for 68 pages compared with Spurs's at £3 for 60 pages. Turned out to be Patrick Vieira and Robert Pires, a sign of the affection in which they are now held, and a sad attempt to Anglicise them, make them one of ours.
After Arsenal's goal, the Ajax fans started singing, in English, "You're shit and you know you are." Imagine Arsenal fans, or fans of any British teams, singing in Dutch or German or French or any other foreign language.
The Arsenal crowd, not to be outdone, then started a chant I have never heard at a football match before, and probably never will again, unless it's against Ajax of Amsterdam: "I saw your wife in the window, I saw your wife in the window."
One chant I'm looking forward to next season, assuming Portsmouth go up, is when their supporters come to London and start singing "Dirty northern bastards". I heard them singing that against Leicester, so presumably they sing it all the time, even against Southampton. They will be the most southern club in the Premier League. If they do get promoted, we'll be able to study Harry Redknapp's twitch once again and also see if his team continue taking pointless short corners, over and over again, until you could scream. (Being sensible, I can scream at any team.)
Ajax then drew level and Arsenal immediately seemed to lose confidence, yet there was nobody of note in the Ajax side, most of them being very young. We go on about our brilliant young players coming through, like Wayne Rooney or Jermaine Jenas, convincing ourselves our next generation of players is going to be really really good, forgetting or being unaware that equally good young players are coming through in every country on the planet. Well, apart from Scotland.
So who is going to do better this season, Arsenal or Man Utd? Man Utd are not the threat they were. "Here comes Gary Neville in acres of space," so the commentator commented during Man U's game against Juventus - words guaranteed to instil instant apathy in the opposition. Roy Keane is no longer Roy Keane. But I think Man Utd could still win the European Cup. Arsenal should easily win the Premiership.
And what of Scunthorpe, third of the rude teams? I'm tipping them to make the play-offs from the third, but to be pipped at the promotional post by Carlisle United, making a last minute miraculous. I've always thought car was a rude word . . .