Few things capture the attention of North Londoners like football does. Even the most nonchalant fan will have an idea of where they side when the “Tottenham and Arsenal” debate crops up.
Add to that, Wembley is a short distance away as well, being the home of a – dare I say it – revived England national side, North London flows football from every industrial building to gentrified coffee shop.
Although on the 30th October, it was Barnet FC that took centre-stage in North London, attracting superstars like Michael Essien (former Chelsea, Real Madrid and AC Milan player), Steve McMannaman (former Liverpool and Real Madrid player) and Robert Pires (former Arsenal and Villareal player) to the “Hive” stadium as they all turned out for the Kanu cup.
The Kanu cup is a game that raises money for the Foundation set-up by the old Arsenal front man called “Kanu Heart Foundation.” Kanu himself who suffered heart troubles through his career has set up a heart foundation that aims at helping kids in Nigeria suffering with similar conditions to himself.
Around 15 years ago to see players like Pires, McMannaman, Essien, Richardson, Chimbonda, Yakubu, Lua Lua, Mido and Kanu you were either very fortunate or spending a lot of money. Now, their physicality may have diminished a little bit but at the least the money we were spending wasn’t going to an owner or consortium that’s on the other side of the planet. Fans young and old came out to see players of yesteryear show us what they still capable of and had us all pondering the question “does he still have it?”
Some had it more than others. The game ended in a convincing 9-2 win for the Premier League stars, which gives a good indication which team had it more. But, to be honest, most of the people were not there for the score line, to see players that my parents used to marvel at playing was enough for me. Oh, and to see Lua Lua still had the cart-wheel and backflip celebration still in him was nothing short of mind-boggling.
Once the full-time whistle had blown, pandemonium begun. Fans started running on to the pitch, trying to grab that one precious selfie of their hero’s. Players like Gallas and Saha were bundled back while trying to sign every shirt and paper that they could. Kanu I am almost certain grew an extra arm but the rate he was signing everything thrown at him, phenomenal workrate being shown on and off the pitch.
All in all, it was a great day. I also heard through the grapevine there is a possibility that this could happen again next year. I do hope so, Barnet provided a great venue and for someone like myself, a life-long football fan, to see great players playing for such a cause is something I would love to continually keep going to.