Even the sky wept that afternoon, and the general contour of the day was surly.
From a myopic perspective, this was a crime against this part of the universe when that team, erstwhile best in England, would be brought to its knees, humiliated.
In plain words—shorn of the soaring arch of music—it was the day Arsenal's head was shoved into the mire and the foot of a giant placed on the back of its figurative neck to inflict maximum suffering as this King of London flailed helplessly for air.
The giant was Manchester United, who seared a scarlet letter of shame—8-2 the letters read—on its once fierce and dreaded rival.
On this day, this wasn't a rival, it was a stripping wet-behind-the ear, who had hazarded a grave mistake: You do not challenge a seasoned warrior with a mere stone and sling, no matter what a fabled legend may say.
The foot shove and ground and ground, until the faux King could breathe no more, and then poised on the fine point of death was left to slink away, covered in filth, tail between the legs.
Events would turn and the giant itself would fall with a mighty crash from the blow of a brother, a blood brother, the emblem of whom is a favorite of the sky.
On this day, though, the entire footballing universe saw the mismatched duel and wept, nay, laughed.
The commander returned soaked like a chicken, and no songs of joy or triumph welcomed the defeated troops back to the capital.
Down in the commodious holds of the citadel, mild on the surface and to the eye and named Ashburton Grove, the great engine stirred, to whet the knife to dissect the fallen commander.
In the western corner of the city, a stricken horde—with grief, alas—unfurled a banner whose accents were plain and clear:
No songs rose or echoed, so the official narrative says in diplomatic disregard of the wild celebration that broke out in a nearby neighbor's household. Music loud and coarse by brass and drums tuned, garnished with horrible ululations, warmed the bosom of that night.
Promptly this brother seized the scepter of London from the impotent hand of the beaten commander and, upon a white horse, charged forward and onward, proclaimed by a curious banner: a rooster on a ball wearing spurs.
Recriminations would last two moons-and-a-half at the red citadel. When the troop emerged again, having thus been baptized by fire, it set about repairing its reputation, to take back its rightful scepter and place.
The victory on the vertiginous bridge named Stamford was part of the process, and when the confrontation of the brothers would happen after seven moons had completed their cycle, the scepter was wrested firm and sure and the King ascended his rightful throne again.
I vote the Manchester United 8-2 defeat as the worst moment of Arsenal's season.
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