Tag Archives: leeds united

Ups and Downs – An Arsenal Away Fans Thoughts

As the season is nearing its end, my mind often turns to the bottom of the league table, and top of the Championship. Thoughts and conversations with pals revolve around who we want to go down, who we want to stay up.

As someone who go’s home and away, with an away scheme membership (away season ticket) I travel the length and depth of the country every week with my pals. No agendas. No BS. Just a good group of lads going to the football.

For us, relegation and promotion into and out of the Premier League is important. Who are we losing. We are we getting?

It is always sad to lose a London club. Since the £26 ticket prices, we save a lot of money with easy trips round the capital. Birmingham clubs are similar. Just a little over an hour on the train, cheap train tickets, Birmingham is always a cheap trip up north.

On the other hand, last season the ‘worst case scenario’ came true when Burnley, Middlesbrough and Hull came up. All rank trip to Northern towns. I actually have not made any of them this season.

So who do I want to go up and down?

With regards to relegation, I am happy with it being as is, with the current bottom 3 disappearing.

I am bored of Sunderland now. Their constant battle against relegation year after year. If they were a horse, dog or fish they would be put down by now. Time to put them out of their misery.

The trip has improved recently with a new train from Kings Cross direct to Sunderland. But it is still a 4 hour trip, with no boozers the other end (unless you go via Newcastle). Sunderland station is in a run down part of the city (or perhaps the entire city is run down?). They will not be missed.

Also in the north-east we have Middlesbrough. Another dump. Whilst I will not be making the Monday night trip this season (thanks Sky!) I have done it before. It is another place that is not high on the list of places to visit in the UK.

Making up the north-east trio is Hull City Tigers. One of only 2 current Premier League grounds I have not yet visited (the other is Burnley). I have no plan to visit it. I went for a wedding in Hull 2 years ago. I do not plan to go back.

I would not shed a tear if all 3 went down.

Also in the relegation dog fight is Swansea.

Swansea is a decent away trip, if you are doing the night out. Full of Welsh slags. But if you are not doing a night out, it is a long old trip up their with Sunderland. Around 4 hours, their is usually delays, often engineering works.

In the last 3 years we have been re-rooted vie Gloucester, held just outside Swansea station for over an hour, and had to get a rail replacement bus service from Port Talbot. A good night out, but a tough old journey.

West Ham and above are probably fair enough ahead to not be dragged into it. Whilst the Hammers going down would be hilarious, going to the London Stadium is the easiest trip for me to do.

Leicester fall into the Birmingham category of being a nice easy, cheap train trip.

Sandwiched between are Burnley and Crystal Palace.

Palace have the London thing in their favour, although it would be nice to get rid of their embarrassing ultras. Burnley can also disappear off the face of the earth. A nasty little racist town.

Sunderland, Hull City Tiger, Middlesbrough, Burnley & Swansea. 3 of those 5 gone will make away days a little more enjoyable next season.

As for who comes up, it looks like Newcastle and Brighton are almost certain to have their Premier League status secured for next season.

Despite my hatred of the north-east , I actually do not mind Newcastle.

Whilst in terms of time the train journey is not too much different from Hull and Sunderland, there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or a pub at the end of the train journey.

Newcastle has some decent boozers near the station. The ground is a short (but hilly) walk from the station. Plenty of options home (trains back to London every 20-30 minutes). It is a decent away trip. Add in that it is a decent night out too.

I am not so enthused about Brighton coming up.

We have done the trip down to the Sussex coast a couple of times in the FA Cup in recent years and both times, I was not too impressed.

The journey is not the issue, but I just do not like Brighton as a town. It just is not set up for football fans to turn up en masse and have a pint. We are looked at by locals as the scum of the earth. They do not want us in their establishments and seem like they can not wait for us to leave.

Add in that horrible little train to Falmer – Brighton are not actually based in Brighton – and a stadium which comes out of the identikit stadiums that sprung up in the late 00s / early 10s and all in all it is a trip I will not overly look forward too.

Everything could change, however, it we get scheduled to play them in August or September. Bit of summer sun and beers down on the beach.

It looks like a 5-way battle for the play-offs.

Huddersfield, Reading, Leeds, Fulham & Sheffield Wednesday.

Right off the bat, I do not want Reading.

Like Brighton, it is one of these grounds not built in the city or town it resides in. Instead it is build on an industrial estate which you have to get a bus too. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, not bothered about going back.

Sheffield Wednesday is another I would right off. After the League Cup defeat, I do not have great memories of the ground. It is falling apart. And is a pigs-ear to get to. Trains planes and automobiles come to mind as you have to get a combination of trains, trams, cabs and walking to get to the ground.

That leaves Fulham, Leeds and Huddersfield.

Despite having done Fulham plenty of times before, it is always an enjoyable trip.

Another London day out, easy to get too, plenty of decent boozers. I do not think I have ever had a bad away day to Fulham. Even when it was torrential rain. They would be my favourite.

Huddersfield and Leeds are two trips I have never done before so I honestly do not know what either would be like for an away trip.

It would be nice to have Leeds back in the Premier League. A proper club who were ripped apart by improper owners.

A nice easy journey into Leeds, with a bit of a horrid journey to the stadium ,it would be nice to have a proper club with proper fans back in the Premier League.

Huddersfield, whilst one many have not done in recent years, is probably bottom of the 3, purely because of the train journey. You have to get to Manchester Piccadilly then across to Huddersfield.

I think I will stick to my original thoughts and welcome Fulham back to the Premier League with welcome arms.

Despite everything that is going on at the club at the moment, I go to football for the day out. That involves the train, the beers, the mates, as well as the game.

When you travel up and down the country following your team, there is much more important things that make it a great day rather than just the football.

Keenos

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Is the EFL Cup a ‘rip-off’?

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On BBC Radio 5 live, Ex-Spurs and Newcastle player Chris Waddle declared that the EFL Cup was a “total rip off”. Saying that teams should announce their squad for the cup’s fixtures in advance at the start of the week.

“It would mean that if you’re travelling a long way you’d know that it will be a weaker side and you may not buy a ticket,” Waddle said.

First a foremost, it shows just how out of touch pundits are with fans. Ex-players and journalists who have not had to pay for a ticket for years, and not had to put their hand in their pocked for a train either.

Anyone who does away games will know that you buy your train ticket early doors, taking advantage of Advanced tickets. No one will leave it till the Monday to decide if they want to go to a game based on the team sheet coming out, as you would then face ludicrous train prices.

For example, if the EFL Cup was next week, and a Spurs fan decided to pay their ticket today to Liverpool, the cost would be £153. The cost for November 29th (the QF date) is more than half that amount.

So fans need to plan in advance their travel. They cannot, as Waddle wants us to do, wait until the beginning of the week to decide if they want to go to the game based on the team sheet. Then add in booking the time off work booked at short notice, and you see just how out of touch Waddle is with his comments.

Then you have the clubs. It would be a logistical nightmare.

Arsenal have one of the best ticket booking systems around. Imagine 60,000 people logging on at 9am on a Monday morning to buy their tickets. The system would crash. And clubs who still use paper tickets rather than membership cards, it would be impossible for them to post out tickets on a Monday to guarantee them getting to the fan on a Tuesday.

Again, Waddle would not know this, he has not bought a ticket for a match in decades.

So we have an out-of-touch pundit who does not pay for his own tickets, does not pay for his own trains, has everything organised for him by whoever is paying for his comments, fighting on behalf of fans rights.

Why does he not talk about the likes of Sky & BT leaving it so long to decide what games they are going to show on TV? Meaning, like with the Man City v Arsenal game, cheaper advanced tickets are sold out before the game is moved. Why does he not pipe up about Arsenal fans having to travel to Burnley on a Sunday evening with no way home? Or a trip to Everton being scheduled on a Tuesday night?

Where was Chris Waddle when Everton fans had to travel to London to face Crystal Palace on a Friday night. With no way home. Or Burnley having to travel to Watford the following Monday. He is surprisingly quiet when it comes to how fans are mistreated by TV companies and scheduling. But why would he bite off the hand that feeds him.

Instead Waddle talks about how clubs treat fans poorly due to putting out changed line ups for the League Cup.

Before the Arsenal game, I stuck this up on the SheWore Facebook page:

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Yes, I was disappointed by the amount of changes (it was actually 71, not 80) and I even suggested cancelling the competition, or making it under-23 only. But that does not mean that I think it is a rip off.

Playing youth sides, reserve sides, in the League Cup is nothing new. You do not travel to Nottingham Forest or Sheffield Wednesday on a mid-weeker expecting Arsene Wenger to put out Arsenal’s strongest line up.

In-fact, weakened sides is what often makes the competition more interesting for fans. The likes of Jack Wilshere & Cesc Fabregas made their break through in the competition.

Fabregas made his debut in the competition in 2003/04, scored his first goal for Arsenal that season, and all 3 appearances in red & white came in the League Cup. The next year he played over 40 times in the first team.

Jack Wilshire also made his first start in the League Cup (his 2nd appearance for Arsenal overall having played 6 minutes against Blackburn previously). In 2008/2009 he started 3 times for Arsenal. All were in the League Cup. Like Fabregas, he also scored his first goal.

The League Cup is now a big part of a players development.

In last seasons disappointing 3-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday, the Arsenal number 45 making his debut was a chap called Alex Iwobi. Who would have predicted a year later people would be asking why Alex Iwobi is playing in the 2nd string in the League Cup once more?

This years competition has given the chance to the likes of Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Chris Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Who knows where all 3 might be next year?

Fans go into the League Cup knowing their side will be putting out a weaker XI. But it is the chance to see a youngster in a senior game that gets the fans excited, the reason why the turn up. They certainly do not feel cheated when the side is named, as Waddle would have you believe.

For the Reading game, Arsenal, as always, charged fans £10 lower / £20 upper for adults. And kids got in for £5 lower / £10 upper. Likewise, Nottingham Forest reduced their prices to just £20 when Arsenal visited them earlier in the season.

The majority of sides already offer massively discounted ticket prices for the League Cup, recognising the fact that there will be wholesale changes to line ups.

Now if Arsenal were to charge the normal £33-£60-odd prices for a League Cup game to watch a rotated side, then yes, I would feel ripped off. But they do not. And the majority of clubs do not.

Once again, it shows how horribly out of touch Waddle is. He probably could not even tell the BBC how much Arsenal, Liverpool, or other sides charged their fans this week. He is probably not aware that a father could take two kids to the game for £20.

Does Chris Waddle complain that fans of semi-professional Halifax Town are ripping of their fans?

Tickets for the National League North side – the 6th step on the football pyramid – are £16 for adults, £13 for concessions, and £5 for under 12’s. So on Tuesday night, you could have been watching Halifax Town play FC United of Manchester for the same price as you could have watched Arsenal against Reading. Who is really being ripped off?

The fact is, whilst the EFL has its problems, it is a brilliant opportunity to take kids, watch some young talent (and established stars – the Arsenal XI contained 5 players capped by their countries) and have a good evening out with the family at the football. Especially taking into account this week has been half term.

Like a young players first game for Arsenal being the League Cup, I wonder how many fathers have taken their sons for their first game in the League Cup this season, or previous seasons.

Maybe Waddle, before spouting rubbish, should have got out of his cosy BBC studio and gone to Arsenal, Liverpool or Leeds on Tuesday and asked the fans as the left do you feel ripped off? I bet no fan would have replied yes.

So Chris Waddle, you’re out of touch and talk a lot of twaddle. Maybe if you actually paid for a ticket, or a train, you would understand the real problems that fans have on a normal game day. Rotated squads for the cut-price EFL Cup is the least of fans complaints these days.

Keenos