The Arsenal and me – Rob’s Story

I could talk about the atmosphere at games, view from seats, smell of burgers but that has all been written about before. This is more an account from my years as a GOONER.

If I am being honest I can’t remember my first Arsenal game. I was that young (5years old) when my dad took me to my first game. The reason I support “The Arsenal” is because of my dad, I mean you always follow your dad’s lead. Right? Unless your @petemartin who was far too clever at a young age to become a spurs fan like his dad.

What I do remember at that early age was where we sat, in the upper west stand, close to the clock end & seeing how passionate gooners were about there team, it was an extraordinary thing at that age – I wanted to be like that. I asked my dad “were you like that dad?” he responded, “yes son, but I stood in the North Bank, we rolled backwards & forwards for the full 90. And when we scored, well you did not know what hit you”. Wish I had have had the chance to stand on the North Bank. I eventually got the chance to be a “North Bank boy” when the new stand was built, not the same though! That temporary boarding still makes me chuckle……

I remember sitting in the East stand, we were playing Wimbledon & my brother was the mascot, shooting balls at John Lukic & of course netting one, which brought a cheer from the clock end. This annoyed me as I was the bigger “gooner”, I lived, breathed arsenal, bought the shirts (kind of), cried when we lost & would not eat my dinner (mum hated it when we lost). Dad used to say if we lose make yourself scarce…go out as we won’t be happy. The worst line a Lady can ever say is “it is only a game”….sh*t would hit the fan then.

There was a benefit of my brother being mascot. I got to go to the marble halls & into the payers lounge after the match. I will never forget this, we met Rocky, Paul Davis, Michael Thomas, Richardson & more. We were waiting for “Captain Marvel” Tony Adams of course (he was mums favourite). Then he appeared in the marble halls, as we were about to leave, he stayed talked for 15 minutes, pictures, signed programmes etc. Me being a cocky little Sh*t said “ where you been Tony?”, he responded “getting your ball signed son” & then handed over the ball and patted me on the head. TA never was the gentlest, that pat hurt, though I did not mind!

Like all good dads ours signed us up to the junior gunners & we then sat in the lower west stand in the Junior Gunners section. I used to love choosing the photo’s that came out in the Junior Gunner pack. I always chose Rocky, as he was my hero. I was a bit like Carl Jenkinson, in that I had arsenal pictures, posters on every wall in my bedroom, though never had the bed spread. My prized picture now is of the last day at Highbury & the great Henry Cooper is in it (have a look if you have the same one).

My first experience of silverware was the 1987 cup final, I was 6 yrs old. I remember watching on the T.V & hearing the crowd singing “Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, Charlie of course for Champagne Charlie Nicholas.

My first away day was in 1988 away to Wimbledon at Plough Lane, the only other time I had been to Wimbledon was to the dog track! I was 7 yrs old, I had my Arsenal top on, a scarf (was a hot day), Arsenal badges & of course wimbledon had won the FA cup the season before. We smashed them 5-1, with a hat trick from smudger. Coming away from the ground we knew we had a good side that year & so it turned out.

I was not allowed to Anfield but of course was able to watch on TV & having read others blogs on here it sounds like it was probably the best night in our history – it was against the odds, against a great l’pool side but we did it & will never, ever be forgotten.

The coming years after that saw us win another league title, Double cup year, CWC winners, really great times as a gooner.

That Era then came to a halt, george took bungs or did he? I don’t know and don’t really care, anyway he was gone. We then had an “interim” manager for a year that bought us probably the best player I have ever seen so we must be thankful for that.

Then it was a certain Mr Wenger that turned up at the marble halls & the trophies then continued and these memories are my best as I was a nearing my 20’s, allowed to drink & had my own cash. It was during this time where I followed Arsenal all over the country, up to Sheffield when Big Ron took over & we got done 2-0, up to boro (crap hole), all London grounds & beyond. The thing I loved about away days was not necessarily the winning but the bond you had with other fans – you were on the road together, travelling miles to cheer on your beloved team. I liked learning the new songs, the ones about players are always my favourite as it associates them to the club & shows our love for them. Though I used to love “she wore, she wore, she wore a yellow ribbon…on our cup runs, Anthem.

And of course “we are unbeatable, we are unbeatable”. Will that ever be sung again?

I recall all the trips to Wembley & Cardiff, the one that stands out most was the 2-0 victory over Chelsea mainly because we were singing to the welsh police in “welsh” & we got kicked out the pub for “weeing” in the coat cupboard. Discusting I know!!!

It was only Ray Parlour though….lovejoy is a mug!!

I am lucky to have had some great memories. I have travelled to some fantastic grounds to watch my great club & experienced trips to Wembley, Cardiff (cup finals are great days) & done a few naughty things along the way. But the luckiest thing is to have been able to watch some of the best football this club has ever played, real privilege.

All in all I will always love this club, I still have a season ticket in Block 10 & will always support whoever is wearing the Red & White shirt. I have had a few “heated discussions” on twitter, who hasn’t? I love talking arsenal & I love reading blogs & hearing stories from way back when.

I now have a boy of my own, so there is one more gooner in the world now. I hope he gets to enjoy moments like I have had.

I AM AN ARSENAL MAN, that will never change & nor would I want it too. I am off to buy a baby kit!!!

We love you Arsenal we do, we love you arsenal we do……….

Rob

If you would like to tell your Arsenal story, click here

5 Theo Walcott Replacements

Raheem Sterling – The Realistic

Like Theo Walcott, Raheem Sterling’s contract has just 15 months left to run, and like Theo, it is looking more and more unlikely that he will sign. There will be a queue of clubs lining up to sign him. From Manchester City to Chelsea, Real Madrid to Barcelona. He is the sort of talent that would attract the top clubs. And for Arsenal, there might be no better replacement for Theo Walcott.

He not only has the raw pace that Walcott possess, but also the ability on the ball and technique that Walcott does not. He is able to beat a man with skill as well as pace, and also has an eye for the pass. Imagine him one side, Alexis Sanchez the other, with Mesut Ozil feeding both. It is enough to make your mouth water.

He has no loyalty to Liverpool. He emigrated from Jamaica to London at the age of 5, and joined Liverpool at 15. He is more of a London Lad than a Scouser, so a move back to the capital would be ideal for him.

Recently he has lost a bit of form, but this is more due to Brendan Rodgers playing him upfront and at right wing back, than anything else. Played in his natural position, as one of the 3 behind the striker, he is class.

In 2014, he won the Golden Boy award as the best U21 player in Europe. He only turned 20 in December.

Having already hit double figures for goals in back to back seasons, he is a talent and will only get better. Yes, there have previously been rumours about baggage in his private life, but these seem to have died down over the last 2 years, and he has let himself do the talking.

Swapping Walcott for Sterling would be a great move. Arsenal would be getting a player 6 years younger who will only get better. With Sterling’s contract situation, a deal could be done for fairly cheap.

Potential cost: £20million OR swap for Theo Walcott

Marco Reus – The Long Term Target

Rumours were abound last season that Marco Reus was a deal that was near to competition. When visiting Lukas Podolski in London, Reus had been given a tour of the Arsenal training ground. Whilst it was a ‘friendly’ visit, escorted around by his compatriot, we can be sure that Arsenal used the opportunity to put out the red carpet.

A deal would likely have happened last season, but his injury in June scuppered the deal – Reus had his tour of the Arsenal training ground in May. Arsenal ended up buying Alexis Sanchez instead – a deal which would not have happened had Arsenal got Reus.

Since then, Reus has signed a new contract with Borussia Dortmund, removing the £20m release clause from his contract. However, with Dortmund out of the running for Champions League football, Reus is almost certain to leave Dortmund this summer.

The big concern would be his injury record. Since that injury last summer, he has ruptured his ankle ligaments and torn his ankle ligaments. He has missed 14 games this season through injury.

He is a class player with a lot of ability and would be able to provide the goals from midfield that Walcott previously have, but it would be a bit of a risk with his recent injury record. He has been fit since January, so if he remains so till the end of the season, Arsenal could relight their interest.

Potential cost: £40m

Gareth Bale – The Dream

Tottenham have a special relationship with Real Madrid. They sell them their best players (Luca Modric & Gareth Bale) and get nothing in return. Meanwhile, Arsenal sign Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. Could this special relationship between Spurs and Madrid result in Bale joining Arsenal after 2 turbulent seasons in Madrid?

Bale’s talent is unquestionable. He is a brilliant player. In the summer, he will be 26, just entering his peak. But for some reason, the Madrid faithful have not taken to him. He is the Real Madrid Gervinho. The man who gets blamed for everything.

Despite his ‘poor form’ he has still scored 38 goals for Real Madrid in less than 2 seasons. His performance for Wales against Israel shows that he is a world class player.

Real Madrid always look to make a marquee signing every summer, but what it often means is as one comes in, one leaves.

To make space for Bale, Ozil left. To make space for James Rodriguez, Angel di Maria left. With Real Madrid potentially facing a transfer ban, they will again be looking for a marquee signing this summer. Only 3 players would possibly leave – Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema or Gareth Bale.

Ronaldo is the darling of the Bernabeu. He is unlikely to leave. However at 30, Madrid might be tempted to cash in on him if someone offers £80m+.

Benzema has constantly been rumoured with a move away from Madrid. He is a good striker, but not a World Class one. Madrid have always felt they can do better. However, is there better out their? Benzema will only leave if the new marquee signing is a striker. Falcao has long been rumoured with a return to Spain, but his poor form for Manchester United rules him out. Aguero another one who might make the big money move. But in reality, there is not much when it comes to World Class striking talents around Europe. The likelihood is that Madrid will stick with Benzema than twist.

And that leaves Bale. Madrid would only be tempted to sell if they recouped what they paid for him, and his £300,000 a week wages could be a sticking point, but Arsenal are now cash rich. The transfer fee is affordable, and the majority wages would come from the saving Arsenal would make by shifting Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott out, with the rest made up of image rights.

It is a deal that, whilst unlikely and a bit of a pipe dream, could happen.

Potential cost: £80m

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – The Existing

Arsenal may well already have the replacement for Theo Walcott in their ranks, in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Just 21, it is time for him to take the step up, and Theo Walcott departing could give him that opportunity.

He had already kept Theo Walcott out of the Arsenal team, and many fans will point to him being the better place. Maybe not as quick as Walcott, but, like Sterling, he has more ability on the ball and better technique. He needs to add goals to his game and become a bit more consistent. He also needs to remain fit.

Add in Danny Welbeck and the returning Serge Gnabry, Arsenal could be tempted to lose Walcott, and not replace him, afterall, he has barely played for 2 years anyway.

Rather than investing the money on Walcott’s replacement on another winger, this cash could go towards other positions – keeper, defensive midfielder, striker – and Arsenal could give Oxlade-Chamberlain the chance to step up.

It would be disappointing not to replace Walcott, but Arsenal certainly have the numbers already in the squad to provide the replacement, even if none of them are not yet of the requisite quality.

Potential cost: £0

Felipe Anderson – The Unknown

The 21 year old Brazilian, currently at Lazio, is a talent.

He joined Lazio for €8million in 2013 and, after a non-eventful first season, he has really developed into a top player this season, with 10 goals in 24 appearances, all of which have come in his last 13 games. He has also created 6 goals for his team mates.

Right footed, he usually plays on the left wing, however his best performances have been on the right wing. Quick and a very good dribbler, like many Brazilian’s, he also has a trick. He also has the physical attributes to compete in the Premier League. After his recent form, he has started to be talked about a bit more, recently being linked to both Manchester City and Chelsea.

If I was to describe him simply, it would be as a ‘Budget Neymar’. This is by no means a criticism, more that he plays in a similar manner to Neymar, is a similar age, and played alongside him at Santos, but is not quite as good. Afterall, Neymar is one of the best players in world football.

The main sticking point is that he reportedly signed a new contract with Lazio on Wednesday, tying him to the club until 2020. Contracts mean nothing in the modern game.

Before his renewal, he was on just £10,000 a week. His new contract would have given him a pay rise and removed a release clause from his contract. It is potentially the usual scenario, a player signing a new contract to ensure his club gets the best possible deal for him when selling in the summer.

Lazio just could not compete if Arsenal came in with a big contract offer for the Brazilian.

Potential cost: £20-30m

Let us know if there are any other potential Walcott replacements in the comments below.

Keenos

 

Hull City v Arsenal – The Big Ticket Con

I am fuming this morning. Absolutely seething. I am foaming about the mouth. And it is for the usual reasons. Ticket prices.

Like many people, I budget monthly. All of my monthly bills went out yesterday, it was time to work out today what I would be paying out throughout April. My biggest expense is football. Tickets and trains. So I log onto Arsenal.com to see if any of the upcoming games prices have been announced yet, and they have, Hull City v Arsenal. £50.

£50. Surely that has got to be a mistake. An error. Maybe I misread it. I refresh the page. There it is, in black and white;

Adults: £50Hull City v Arsenal 2014-15Wow! I thought. That is a bit expensive. More than I was expecting. Especially after remembering some research I did earlier this season.

So I looked into further, and through the brilliance of Google, was able to find an article on Hull City’s website advertising last years game:Hull City v Arsenal 2013-14

£35. Now that is more reasonable. Still not £20,. But reasonable. But wait a minute, we are being charged £50 this season!

That is a 42% increase. A disgrace. Sickening. Greed.

But here is the problem, I will still go. I will still pay my £50. I am a mug.

It will be interested to find out Hull City’s justification on the rise. Maybe I will email them.

In the meantime, it is time for action:

It is time for fans to unite. Fans of Arsenal,fans of other clubs, put rivalries aside and start making your voices heard. A 42% increase in a single season is a disgrace. Hull City should hang their heads in shame.

But there is no point moaning if you are not willing to take action. It is easy to sit behind blogs and twitter complaining, but never doing anything – which many do. If you have previously moaned on twitter about ticket prices, and are going Saturday, get down to Bear’s Roundabout at noon. Get involved. Make your voice heard.

Football Without Fans is Nothing

Keenos