It didn’t take long for derby debutant Gary Doherty to get to grips with what a Tottenham-Arsenal clash means to fans.
Only a few minutes had gone at Highbury when the young defender chased down Thierry Henry to the byline. As Henry trotted away, Doherty retrieved the ball — and got his own special ‘welcome’ from fans in the Clock End.
“It’s a frightening atmosphere,” said the Irish star. “When you are young it’s one of the derbies you are brought up on as one of the biggest and it was awesome to play in it.
“The ground is quite closed in and you get the odd bit of stick from the fans but it’s great to play in.”
Doherty was outstanding alongside Chris Perry an Anthony Gardner as our defence came under increasing pressure. It took 70 minutes for us to finally crack and it took a special goal from Robert Pires to do so.
“I thought we battled well,” said ‘Doc’. “You look at their team before the game and it’s an awesome line-up and we had a lot of youngsters put there.
“I thought 2-0 was a good result, especially with a bunch of young lads.
“Perhaps it was a little surprise to see such a strong Arsenal team but this is as important for them, to get a Champions’ League place. They needed a win.
“I’m sure they’ll have another strong side for the semi-final but we will as well with a few key players coming back.”
Doherty, one of six players aged 21 or under in the starting line-up, said the youngsters were desperate to put on a show in a game they know means so much.
He added: “Most of the young lads were saying before the game that it was a great opportunity to play in a derby in front of almost 40,000 fans at Highbury.
“It was a first derby for a lot of the lads and it was a great occasion for us. I thought we held our own.”